Monday, November 30, 2009
Posted by Rajeesh on Indian Vanguard on November 30, 2009
New Delhi: Weeks before the government launches one of its biggest offensive against Maoists, the Maoists have welcomed it saying this will strengthen their movement in tribal areas.
The Maoist think tank believe that the government’s stand is responsible for their success in Jharkhand, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh. "The more destruction they (security forces) cause, the faster will our people’s army grow and our guerrilla war spread to other parts of the country. Thanks to the Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh, our war has achieved in four years what would have taken two decades. Now, thanks to home minister P Chidambaram, our war will expand to wider areas, mobilise more people and gather momentum," said Azad, the spokesperson of the CPI (Maoist) in a document made available to DNA.
"Maoism teaches us that self-preservation is possible only through war. You cannot defend yourself against a powerful and extremely cruel enemy by submitting to him meekly. You have to choose the appropriate method to fight a relatively superior and powerful enemy and only by this can you ensure the preservation of your forces," he said.
Targeting prime minister Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram for not doing enough for the tribals of mineral-rich areas, the Maoist leadership says the government is only interested in these areas because of resources but is doing nothing to develop them. The rebels are clear there’s no question of getting down to talks if laying down arms is a pre-condition.
"Never, not even in our dreams can we think of laying down arms. We have taken up arms to defend the rights of people and to liberate them exploitation and oppression. Laying down arms would be betraying the m," Azad said.
"We may lose some forces in this brutal offensive by the enemy. But you must keep in mind that when the people’s war began we had only a handful of committed cadre.
Today, it has grown into a big mass movement with a people army and a countrywide presence. Even if we lose some forces, we will rebuild the movement as we are now doing in Andhra Pradesh. You will see the results of our underground work soon," said Azad.
Hinting at more attacks against policemen, Maoists said they have asked their cadre not to use brutal tacticssuch as those used on Francis Induvar, the slain policeman from Jharkhand
Sunday, November 29, 2009
The Adivasi and Maoist resistance movements were discussed and the meeting explored ways in which the multinationals of British or European origin should be exposed for their complicity in the savage attacks by The Indian Government on the Adivasi people.The Multinationals are the benificaries of the land grab MOU's signed by the Indian Government.
Solidarity with the Maoist led Adivasi struggle was expressed at the meeting with a determination to expose all those responsible from Multinational's to the Indian Government responsible for the slaughter of democratic forces of resistance to oppression.
A statement was read to the meeting stating that Saibaba of the RDF had never agreed to speak at this meeting and the previous announcement was a case of mis communication.
G N Saibaba of the RDF speaks on Tribals in India , Ecological disaster and Political Prisoners at London meeting
G N Saibaba of the RDF spoke to a meeting in London organised by Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners on the question of the Indian State's War on its own indigenous Adivasi or Tribal people.
He pointed out the the areas of Forest inhabitated by the Tribals are the lungs of South Asia and should be a Green conservation area for the planet along with other forest areas like those in Brazil.
The struggle of the Adivasi people is our struggle and not just their's said Saibaba has the implications of the rapacious plunder of Adivasi lands by imperialist capitalist monopolies endangers the survival of the planet.
Saibaba also pointed out that India has the undeserved reputation has the worlds largest democracy - the reality is that India has the largest number of political prisoners in the world but the Indian Government refuses to recognise political prisoner status. India also has the highest rate of custodial deaths.
He called at the meeting for a campaign to recognise political prisoner status for those who have fought for social justice in India and have found themselves repressed and behind bars.
He received a standing ovation by those present at the meeting campaigning for the freedom of political prisoners throughout the world..
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Friday 27th November 7pm
Merchmont Community Hall
62 Marchmont Street London.
WC1N 1AB, near Russell Square Station
Program starts at 6:00 pm on Saturday
28 November 2009
2 Fieldway Crescent
London N5 1PF
Holloway Road (Piccadilly Line) or
Highbury and Islington (Victoria Line)
23 November 2009
Tribal leader K Singana and Andru’s funeral, where thousands of people have gathered.
They were killed on 20 November by Orissa police and Indian Reserve Battalion in front of the police station during a peaceful demonstration against molestation of woman by armed forces.
Thanks to Indian Vanguard for posting this video
Monday, November 23, 2009
The deadline exteded to the govt by the UCPN (M) has expired. The third wave of the Maoist protests, the third Janaandolan, is about to begin. It will include a three day nationwide general strike, a series of actions by the sister wings of the party (women, labourers, teachers, students etc), a series of actioons by the regional and ethnic wings, and if the government remains undefeated the Maoists will declare an indefinite general political strike.
Baburam Bhattarai summed up the difference between this round and those before it - "in the second round of protests, we knocked n the door of the government. In the third wave we will knock the door down."
The Maoists also appear to have decided to let the budget pass, in order to prove to the masses that they, unlike the govt, care about their wellbeing. The inability of the govt to pass it's budget had meant that govt departments had run out of money and everything from prisons to the PLA cantonments could no longer recieve funding.
Events are moving quickly, and the brave revolutionary people of Nepal need our support and solidarity. Lal salaam!
Thanks to Alastair Reith and Maoist List for this article
SOLIDARITY WITH THE OPPRESSED TRIBALS’ STRUGGLE
Speaker: G N Saibaba
Revolutionary Democratic Front India
Friday 27th November 7pm
Merchmont Community Hall
62 Marchmont Street London.
WC1N 1AB, near Russell Square Station
CO-ORDINATION COMMITTEE OF REVOLUTIONARY COMMUNISTS OF BRITAIN
(c/o BM Box 2978, London WC1N 3XX)
Second Wave Publications
George Jackson Socialist League Britain
South Asia Solidarity Forum
World People’s Resistance Movement - Britain
Indian Workers Association (GB)
Democracy and Class Struggle
free all political prisoners across the world!
Speakers and presentations
on the current issues and the struggles of political prisoners across the world
(Speakers from Brazil, India, Iran, Philippines, Turkey, US and …)
Statements & messages of solidarity
The Peoples’ Resistance in Lalgarh
Revolutionary music and cultural performances
in solidarity with political prisoners
Program starts at 6:00 pm on Saturday
28 November 2009
2 Fieldway Crescent
London N5 1PF
Holloway Road (Piccadilly Line) or
Highbury and Islington (Victoria Line)
Organised jointly by:
Activists of the People’s Fadaii Guerrillas of Iran - London.
Democratic Anti-imperialist Organisation of Iranians in Britain
Devrimci Demokrasi (Revolutionary Democracy Magazine)
Indian Workers’ Association -GB (IWA-GB)
Int’l Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners (UPOTUDAK)
Migrante International (Filipino Migrants alliance)
Solidarity Committee with Free Political Prisoners (OTDK)
International Migrants Solidarity Centre - London,
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
International food and drinks are available.
For all information and solidarity messages contact
Saturday, November 21, 2009
According to Andhra Police, Bhattacharya was acquitted in three cases registered against him in the state, while he already has got bail in the case registered against him in Bihar.
Speaking to media soon after his release from the prison, Tusharkant Bhattacharya reiterated that as long as there was State violence and oppression against the people, the Maoists movement will continue to fight for the depressed classes and those being exploited.
He charged the governments both at the Centre and State levels with terrorising the tribals and forcing them to flee from the forest areas so that the natural resources and mine deposits in the region could easily be handed over to the multi-national companies. “What they are planning now in Chattisgarh in the name of Green Hunt is nothing but a ploy to displace the adivasis. However, the Maoist party with the support of the people will not allow the evil designs of the Centre,’’ he said.
Despite his failing health, the Maoist leader said he would continue to serve the party and would play an active role in the people’s movements. “Protecting the mineral wealth in the forest areas will always be the priority of Maoists,’’ he said.
He said false cases were foisted against him and that he was mentally tortured in the prison. However, he said nothing would deter him. Former CPI (Janashakti) leader Amar was among those who came to receive Bhattacharya at the prison.
Bhattacharya was captured by Bihar Police in a raid on his rented house in Patna’s Dujra locality on September 20, 2007. At the time of arrest, Bhattacharya was looking after the Maoist movement in Uttarkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Uttar Bihar, known as the Triple U in Maoist parlance.
Tusharkant Bhattacharya — resident of Kagaznagar in Andhra’s Adilabad district is one of the leading idealogues of the Maoist Movement in India. He was arrested 2 years ago in September, 2007 from Patna. He is responsible for the infamous Tappalpur Village killings which led to a flight of landlords from 4 Andhra districts
The Maoists, who waged a decade-long war against the state before winning elections in 2008, said they would launch nationwide protests on Sunday, culminating in a three-day general strike in December.
The Maoist-led government fell in May after the president overruled their decision to sack the head of the army, and since then they have held regular protests, preventing parliament from sitting and paralysing the capital.
"We have been compelled to announce a third round of protests because the government has made no effort to meet our demands," said party spokesman Dinanath Sharma.
"But we will keep the door open for further talks with the government."
Sharma also said the Maoists would allow the parliament to reopen for three days to pass this year's budget, which should have been approved by lawmakers three months ago.
Most government workers including police and the army went without pay last month because government departments cannot draw down any more money until the new budget is passed.
The Maoists want the president to apologise for his move to reinstate the army chief, which they say was unconstitutional, and are also calling for a parliamentary debate on the head of state's powers.
Earlier this month, they blockaded the government headquarters in Kathmandu for two days in protest against the president's move.
Monday, November 16, 2009
We have been hearing many stories about the human rights violations before and after Operation Green Hunt was announced. Allegations and counter-allegations have been going around. Fact-finding investigations have uncovered the atrocities security forces are committing in these areas, but now those very findings are being questioned.At such a time it is crucial to present the reality and tear the veils obscuring the truth. When the State Declares War on the People is a 15-minute trailer by Gopal Menon based on his recent coverage of the ground reality in Chhattisgarh. This short film contains exclusive interviews with victims and their testimony including 1 1/2 year old Suresh who had three fingers chopped off his left hand, an old man who was electrocuted and whose flesh was ripped off with knives, women raped by Special Police Officers and CRPF.
The film also presents the views of Arundhati Roy and Mahesh Bhatt, two eminent citizens who have been closely following developments in Chhattisgarh. The clear intention of the State - to wipe out all resistance through terror in the name of fighting the Maoists - is demonstrated in this film.
About the Director
Gopal Menon is an activist-filmmaker focusing on caste, communalism and nationality. He was arrested twice while trying to go to Lalgarh and beaten with rifle butts and lathis. He was detained in Dantewada too. This is a trailer of a larger film on the Indian State’s war on the people.
Some of Menon’s earlier films are Naga Story: The Other Side of Silence, Hey Ram!! Genocide in the Land of Gandhi, PAPA 2 (about disappearances in Kashmir) and Resilient Rhythms (a rainbow overview of the Dalit situation) amongst others.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
SOLIDARITY WITH THE OPPRESSED TRIBALS’ STRUGGLE
Speaker: G N Saibaba
Revolutionary Democratic Front India
Friday 27th November 7pm
Merchmont Community Hall
62 Marchmont Street London.
WC1N 1AB, near Russell Square Station
CO-ORDINATION COMMITTEE OF REVOLUTIONARY COMMUNISTS OF BRITAIN
(c/o BM Box 2978, London WC1N 3XX)
Second Wave Publications
George Jackson Socialist League Britain
South Asia Solidarity Forum
World People’s Resistance Movement - Britain
Indian Workers Association (GB)
Democracy and Class Struggle
Saturday, November 14, 2009
‘I Am the Real Patriot [Desh Bhakt]"
Tusha Mittal, Tehelka, November 13, 2009
In this interview, underground Maoist leader Kishenji speaks on issues such as peace talks, armed struggle, the party's sources of funding, the difference between people's democracy and India's formal democracy, and the goals of the CPI (Maoist).
With unmistakable pride, he says he’s India’s Most Wanted Number 2. CPI (Maoist) Politburo member Mallojula Koteshwar Rao alias Kishenji, 53, grew up in the interiors of Andhra Pradesh reading Gandhi and Tagore. It was after understanding the history of the world, he says, that he disappeared into the jungles for a revolution. During search operations in 1982, the police broke down his home in Peddapalli village. He hasn’t seen his mother since, but writes to her through Telugu newspapers. After 20 years in the Naxal belt of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, he relocated to West Bengal. His wife oversees Maoist operations in Dantewada [a district in southern Chhattisgarh]. Now, at a hideout barely a few kilometres from a police camp in Lalgarh, he reads 15 newspapers daily and offers to fax you his party literature. If you hold on, he’ll look up the statistics of war on his computer. Excerpts from a midnight phone interview:
Tell me about your personal journey. What made you join the CPI (Maoist)?
I was born in Karimnagar in Andhra Pradesh (AP). In 1973, after a BSc mathematics degree, I moved to Hyderabad in to pursue law. My political journey began with my involvement in the Telangana Sangarsh Samiti, which has been pressing for a separate Telangana state. I launched the Radical Students Union (RSU) in AP. During the Emergency in 1975, I went underground to take part in the revolution. Several things motivated me: Writer Varavara Rao, who founded the Revolutionary Writers Association, India’s political atmosphere and the progressive environment in which I grew up.
My father was a great democrat and a freedom fighter. He was also vice-president of the state Congress party. We are Brahmins, but our family never believed in caste. When I joined the CPI (ML),my father left the Congress saying two kinds of politics can’t survive under one roof. He believed in socialism, but not in armed struggle. After the Emergency ended in 1977, I led a democratic peasant movement against feudalism. Over 60,000 farmers joined it. It triggered a nationwide peasant uprising.
The Home Minister has agreed to talks with CPI (Maoist) on issues like forest rights, land acquisition and SEZs [Special Economic Zones]? Why did you reject his offer? He’s only asking you to halt the violence.
We are ready to talk if the government withdraws its forces. Violence is not part of our agenda. Our violence is counter violence. The combat forces are attacking our people every day. In the last month in Bastar, the Cobra forces have killed 18 innocent tribals and 12 Maoists. In Chhattisgarh, those helping us with development activities are being arrested. Stop this; the violence will stop. Recently, the Chhattisgarh DGP [Director-General of Police] called the 6,000 Special Police Officers of Salwa Judum a force of pride. New recruitment continues. These people have been raping, murdering and looting tribals for years. Entire villages have been deserted because of the Salwa Judum. The government can say whatever it likes, but we do not believe them. How can they change policy when they aren’t even in control? The World Bank and America is.
On what conditions will you de-escalate violence?
The PM should apologise to the tribals and withdraw all the troops deployed in these areas. The troops are not new, we have been facing State terror for the last 20 years. All prisoners should be released. Take the time you need to withdraw forces, but assure us there won’t be police attacks meanwhile. If the government agrees to this, there will be no violence from us. We will continue our movement in the villages like before.
Before it agrees to withdrawing troops, can you give the State assurance you won’t attack for one month?
We will think about it. I’ll have to speak with my general secretary. But what is the guarantee there won’t be any attack from the police in that one month? Let the government make the declaration and start the process of withdrawing. It shouldn’t be just a show for the public. Look at what happened in AP. They began talks and broke it. Our Central Committee member went to meet the AP Secretary. Later, the police shot him for daring to talk to the government.
If you really have a pro-people agenda, why insist on keeping arms? Is your goal tribal welfare or political power?
Political power. Tribal welfare is our priority, but without political power we cannot achieve anything. One cannot sustain power without an army and weapons. The tribals have been exploited and pushed to the most backward extremes because they have no political power. They don’t have the right to their own wealth. Yet, our philosophy doesn’t insist on arms. We keep arms in a secondary place. We faced a setback in AP because of that.
The government says halt the violence first, you say withdraw the troops first. In this mindless cycle, the tribal people you claim to represent are suffering the most.
So let’s call international mediators then. Whether it’s Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal or Maharashtra, we never started the violence. The first attack always came from the government. In Bengal, the CPM [Communist Party of India (Marxist)] cadre won’t let any non-party person enter villages under their control. Police has been camping in the Lalgarh area since 1998. In such a situation, how can I press for higher potato prices and drinking water? There is no platform for me to do that. When the minimum wages in West Bengal were Rs 85 per day, people were being paid Rs 22. We demanded Rs 25. The Mahabharat [war] began when the Kauravas refused to grant the Pandavas even the five villages they asked for. The State refused our three-rupee hike. We are the Pandavas; they are the Kauravas.
You say violence is not your agenda, yet you’ve killed nearly 900 policemen in the past four years. Many of them came from poor tribal families. Even if it is counter violence, how is this furthering a pro-people goal?
Our battle is not with the police forces, it is with the State. We want to minimise the number police casualties. In Bengal, many police families actually sympathise with us. There have been 51,000 political murders by the CPM during the last 28 years. Yes, we have killed 52 CPM men in the last seven months, but only in retaliation to police and CPM brutality.
How is the CPI (Maoist) funded? What about the allegations of extortion?
There are no extortions. We collect taxes from the corporates and big bourgeoisie, but it’s not any different from the corporate sector funding the political parties. We have a half-yearly audit. Not a single paisa is wasted. Villagers also fund the party by voluntarily donating two days’ earnings each year. From two days of bamboo cutting in Gadchiroli we earned Rs 25 lakh. From tendu leaf collection in Bastar we earned Rs 35 lakh. Elsewhere, farmers donated 1,000 quintals of paddy.
What if a farmer refuses to donate?
That will never happen.
Because of fear?
No. They are with us. We never charge villagers even a paisa for the development activity that we initiate.
What development have you brought to Maoist-dominated areas? How has life improved for the tribals of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand?
We’ve made the people aware of the State’s real face, told them how rich people live and what they’re deprived of. In many of these areas the tendu leaf rate used to be one rupee for 1,000 leaves. We got it hiked to 50 paise per leaf in three districts of Maharashtra, five districts of AP and the entire Bastar region. Bamboo was sold to paper mills at 50 paise per bundle. Now the rate is Rs 55. But these victories came after we faced State resistance and brutality. In Gadchiroli alone, they killed 60 people on our side, we killed five.
The CPI(Maoist) also sends medical help to 1,200 villages in India almost daily. In Bastar, our foot soldiers are proficient doctors, wearing aprons, working as midwives in the jungles. We don’t give them arms. We have 50 such mobile health teams and 100 mobile hospitals in Bastar itself. Villagers go to designated people for specific illnesses: for fever go to Issa, for dysentery to Ramu and so on. There is so much illness in these areas that there are not enough people to pick up the dead bodies. We give free medicines to doctors for distribution among the people. The government doesn’t know that the medicines come from their own hospitals.
If the State sends civil administration to the Naxal belt, will you allow it?
We will welcome it. We want teachers and doctors to come here. The people of Lalgarh have been asking for a hospital for decades. The government did nothing. When they built one themselves, the government turned it into a military camp.
What is your larger long-term vision? Outline three tangible goals.
The first is to gain political power, to establish new democracy, socialism and then communism. The second is to make our economy self sufficient so we don’t need loans from imperialists. We are still paying off foreign loans from decades ago. The debt keeps increasing because of the devaluation of our currency. It will never be repaid. This is what the World Bank wants. We need an economy that works on two things — agriculture and industry. First, the tribals want land. Until they own their land, the State will exploit them. The people should be entitled to a percentage of the crop depending on their labour. We are not opposed to industry; how can there be development without it? But we should decide which industries will work for India, not America, not the World Bank. Instead of big dams, big industries, we’ll promote small-scale industries, especially those on which agriculture depends. The third goal is to seize all the big companies – from the Tatas to the Ambanis, cancel all the MoUs [Memoranda of Understanding], declare their wealth as national wealth, and keep the owners in jail. Also, from the grassroots to the highest levels, we will create elected bodies in a democratic way
But look at the history of communist governments the world over. They became as oppressive as the ones they overthrew. There are ample examples of coercion and absence of dissent in Maoist regimes. How is this in the best interest of the people?
These are all stories spread by the capitalists. People in the villages are dying by the hundreds, but all our doctors want to live in the cities. All our engineers want to serve Japan or the IT sector. They reached their positions using the nation’s wealth. What are they doing for my country? The State cannot insist you become a doctor. But if you do, it should insist you use your skill for two years in the villages. How oppressive the State is depends on who is controlling the reigns of power.
We want to have a democratic culture. If there is no democracy, ask the villagers to start another revolution and overthrow us. In an embryonic form, we already have an alternative democratic people’s government in Bastar. Through elections, we choose a local government called the revolutionary people’s committee. People vote by raising their hands. There is a chairman, a vice-chairman, and there are departments – education, health, welfare, agriculture, law and order, people’s relations. This system exists in about 40 districts in India at present. The perception that Maoists don’t believe in democracy is wrong.
What exists in India today is formal democracy. It’s not real. Whether it’s Mamata Banerjee, or the CPM, or the Congress party, it is all dictatorship. We negotiated the release of 14 adivasi women in Bengal to show the world who the State is keeping in jail; to expose their real face.
If you believe in democracy, why do you shun the democratic process that already exists? The Maoists in Nepal contested elections.
To create a new democratic State, one has to destroy the old one. Nepal’s Maoists have compromised. What elections? There are 180 MPs with serious criminal charges. More than 300 MPs are crorepatis [someone who is worth more than 10 million rupees]. Do you know the US Army is already conducting exercises at a base in Uttar Pradesh? They openly said they can take the Indian Army with them wherever they want. Who allowed them this audacity? Not me. I am opposing them. I am the real desh bhakt (patriot).
What kind of nation do you want India to be? Pick a role model.
Our first role model was Paris. That disintegrated. Then Russia collapsed. That’s when China emerged. But after Mao, that too got defeated. Now, nowhere in the world is the power truly in the hands of the people. Everywhere workers are fighting for it. So there is no role model.
When communism hasn’t worked elsewhere, why will it work for India? China now admits Mao’s theories were fallible. In Nepal, the Maoists are already seeking foreign investment.
What the Maoists in Nepal are doing is wrong. Following this path will only mean creating another Buddhadeb [the "Marxist" Chief Minister of West Bengal] babu. We have appealed to them to come back to the old ways. Wherever socialism or communism took root, imperialism tried to destroy it. Of course, Lenin, Mao, Prachanda – all have weaknesses. After winning the Second World War, Lenin and Stalin replaced internal democracy with bureaucracy. They disregarded the participation of the people. We will learn from their mistakes. But capitalism too has had to stand up after being shot down. How can you say that capitalism has been successful? Socialism is the only way out.
But in power, you could be as fallible as the Nepal Maoists or the CPM?
If we change, the people should start another krantikari andolan (revolution) against us. If the ruler — no matter who — becomes exploitative, then the people need to stand up to demand their democracy. They should not have blind faith in a Kishenji, or a Prachanda or a Stalin. If any neta or party deviates from their own ideology, then end your faith in them and revolt again. The people should always keep this tradition alive.
Have you ever faced any personal dilemmas? Is violence the only way you can mount pressure on the State?
I believe we are trying to do the right thing. We are waging a just war. Yes, there can be mistakes along the way. Unlike the State, when we make mistakes, we admit it. The beheading of Francis Induwar was a mistake. We apologise for it. In Lalgarh, we are trying different strategies. We have recently made concrete development demands and given the government a November 27 deadline. We’ve asked for 300 borewells and 50 make-shift hospitals. I have also knocked on the doors of Left Front parties – Forward Bloc, RSP, CPI and even CPM. I’m even in touch with ministers within the Bengal government. I’ve spoken to the Chief Minister himself.
The CM office has rubbished this.
I have spoken to the CM. I told him to stop State brutality and said we have mailed our development demands. He said he is under pressure from his own party and from Home Minister Chidambaram.
Why isn’t the police able to catch you?
In eight states, there are day and night search operations on for me. I’m India’s Most Wanted Number 2. In 1,600 villages in Bengal, people are currently on night guard to ensure the police can’t find me. There are 500 policemen in a camp 1.5 kilometres from where I am right now. The people of Bengal love me. The police have to kill them before they can get me.
The Home Secretary recently alluded to China giving you arms. Is this true?
Clearly, he doesn’t know the basics of our philosophy. To win a war, you need to know your enemy. Our position is diametrically opposite to China. I thought Chidambaram and Pillai were my competition, but never imagined I have such low-standard enemies. They are flashing swords in the air. Victory will be ours.
What is your opinion of the Lashkar-e-Taiba? Do you support their war?
We may support some of their demands, but their methods are wrong and antipeople. LeT should stop its terrorist acts because it cannot help accomplish any goals. You can only win by taking the people along with you.
Addressing a mass meeting at the end of the second-phase stir for restoration of 'civilian supremacy' in the capital Friday afternoon, Dahal aka Prachanda said his party will begin third phase of protests if the coalition government failed to address the demands by November 20.
He said that Nepali people have given mandate to the Maoist party to conclude the peace process and write new constitution for the country and that his party is committed to fulfill the duties entrusted by the people.
Dahal said since the current government is operated through 'remote control', it cannot lead the peace process. He accused Nepali Congress of trying to suspend the constituent assembly and impose presidential rule.
Maoist vice chairman and coordinator for second phase stir Dr Babu Ram Bhattarai said his party is ready to end the House deadlock if other parties accept parliamentary discussion on step taken by the president.
Before converging into mass gathering, the party had picketed Singh Durbar, the government's main seat, from early morning today restricting government officials and ministers entering inside
SOURCE: NEPAL NEWS
Posted by Rajeesh on November 14, 2009 on Indian Vanguard
COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA (MAOIST)
Press Release: September 29, 2009Fight for the unconditional release of Maoist leader comrade Kobad Ghandy!
Maoists are champions of people’s cause; Expose the reactionary propaganda that Maoists are terrorists!!
As part of their all-round brutal offensive against the CPI(Maoist) and the ongoing people’s war in India, the Sonia- Manmohan-Chidambaram fascist clique at the Centre and the various exploiting class parties in the states, irrespective of their colour, have engaged their lawless repressive state apparatus to eliminate the central and state leadership of our Party. Exactly a month after the arrest of a Polit Bureau member of our Party, comrade Sumit, from Ranchi on August 19, and four months after the abduction and brutal murder of our Central Committee member com Patel Sudhakar, another Polit Bureau member and a senior leader of the CPI(Maoist), comrade Kobad Ghandy, was arrested from Delhi. Comrade Kobad Ghandy had just returned from a trip to the guerrilla zone.
The arrest of comrade Kobad Ghandy is being touted as a big success of the Intelligence officials while it was actually a result of the betrayal by a weak element in the Party who was acting as his courier. He was betrayed by his courier who led the SIB from AP and the Intelligence wing in Delhi to the appointment spot in Bhikaji Cama Place in South Delhi. The police claimed that he was arrested on the night of 20th September, but the actual arrest was made on 17th. The prompt reaction from various democratic and civil rights organizations foiled the plan of the Intelligence agencies and the police officials to torture and murder him as is their usual norm. The CC, CPI(Maoist) hails the efforts made by the various democratic forces in defending the life of comrade Kobad Ghandy and appeals to them to fight against the heinous attempts of the reactionary rulers to implicate him in false cases, to conduct Narco tests and to mentally harass him.
Comrade Kobad Ghandy, who hails from a rich, elitist background, had abandoned everything and mingled with the oppressed masses serving them selflessly for almost four decades. He lived with the unorganized workers, adivasi peasants, and the urban poor and became popular among the oppressed sections of the Indian people. He organized revolutionary activity in Maharashtra during the 1970s and became a member of the Central Committee of erstwhile CPI(ML)[PW] in 1981. He continued as a member of the CC of the merged CPI(Maoist) in 2004 and was elected to the Polit Bureau after the Unity Congress—9th Congress in February 2007. He played a crucial role in bringing out the Party publications in English and was also looking after the subcommittee on Mass Organisations set up by the CC besides other works. The arrest of comrade Kobad Ghandy is a great loss to the CPI(Maoist) and the Indian revolution.
The reactionary rulers were elated by this temporary success and the wily Chidambaram had congratulated the Intelligence agencies for the ‘prize catch’. Like true heirs to George Bush these state terrorists have stepped up their propaganda that the Maoists and the Maoist leader comrade Kobad Ghandy are terrorists. They churn out numbers to show how thousands have become victims of Maoist violence. But the fact is: while the Maoists had punished only the repressive forces of the state, the anti-people feudal forces and the police agents, it is the police, para-military forces and the armed vigilante gangs like the salwa judum that are continuously carrying out a mass murder campaign completely destroying over 800 tribal villages, murdering over 500 adivasis and raping over a hundred adivasi women in Dantewada and Bijapur districts alone. Same is the story in Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal’s Lalgarh and other areas, Orissa, Maharashtra, and so on.
This 21st century breed of Goebbels can never fool the people through their outright lies about the Maoists who live among the people, who live for the people, and who have no other interests than those of the oppressed people. None would believe that the freedom-loving Maoists who are fighting for the oppressed people undergoing countless sacrifices and facing tremendous hardships and brutal repression by the police would terrorise the very same people for whose liberation they have been waging a bitter war against the Indian state. It is a Tata, a Mittal, a Jindal, a Vedanta, a Ruia and
their loyal representatives like Manmohan, Chidambaram, Raman Singh that are terrified by the Maoists who are challenging their exploitation and oppression of the adivasis and the abundant wealth in the vast adivasi belt.
Comrade Kobad Ghandy is a role model to be emulated by the new generation of youth that is being estranged from its own people by the elitist, slavish, anti-people colonial education system and selfish values promoted by the pro-imperialist rulers. Let us unite to fight against the attempts by the Indian state to persecute revolutionary intellectuals, Maoist leaders and fighters like comrade Kobad Ghandy who had dedicated their entire lives for the liberation of the people from the clutches of imperialist, feudal and comprador capitalist exploitation and oppression. Maoists are servants of the people while Manmohans, Chidambarams and Raman Singhs are servants of the imperialists, feudal forces and the lumpen, parasitic, mafia capitalist class. Maoists are fighting selflessly for the liberation of the oppressed while Manmohan Singhs Chidambarams, Raman Singhs and Co are the oppressors spreading terror among the people.
Spokesperson,Central Committee, CPI(Maoist)
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Cadres of Unified CPN (Maoist) clashed with riot police while staging sit-ins and other protest programmes outside the country's administrative center, Singha Durbar, from early morning, Thursday, as part of their second phase of agitation against the President's move.
More than 50 Maoist cadres including senior leaders and some lawmakers of the party were injured after police resorted to baton-charge and fired tear-gas shells to prevent the crowd from entering the prohibited areas around Singha Durbar in the course of their protests.
Places like Maitighar, Anamngar and Bijuli Bazaar saw the most clashes between the police and the protesters. The situation there remained tense in these areas throughout afternoon.
Our correspondents covering the protests said Maoist leaders Amik Sherchan, Krishna Bahadur Mahara including few other Maoist lawmakers are among the injured in today's clashes. They are undergoing treatment at the Bir Hospital and Everest Nursing Home.
Thousands of cadres of UCPN (Maoist) and its sister organisations along with their leaders have gathered around the country's administrative center Singha Durbar from early morning, Thursday, as part of their second phase of agitation against the President's move to overrule the erstwhile government's decision to sack the then army chief
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Asserting that they were ready for a ceasefire, the Maoists Tuesday night said the central government should come out with a written proposal for dialogue, and rebutted the government’s demand for end to violence as a pre-requisite for talks.
Regretting that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and union Home Minister P. Chidambaram have not responded to an open letter written by him, Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) politburo member Koteswar Rao alias Kishenji told IANS that the joint forces combating the rebels must be withdrawn first.
“The joint forces (of the centre and the respective states) perpetrating atrocities on the people in tribal areas and jungles must be withdrawn. The government should also set free the people arrested in connection with our agitation,” the top Maoist leader said over phone from an undisclosed destination.
Responding to union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai’s statement that the Maoists should shun violence to pave the way for talks, Kishenji said: “We are opposed to violence. We don’t indulge in violence on our own. It’s the government which lets lose violence on us.”
“Look at the way the security forces torture our people, the poorer sections fighting for their rights. The government should stop violence first and declare a ceasefire.”
“I have written to the prime minister and the home minister. But they have not replied. They should. And if the government is serious about a dialogue with us, it should write to our general secretary with a concrete proposal,” he said. Prokerala
Unified CPN (Maoist) Vice-Chairman Dr. Baburam Bhattarai has warned that any act of repression by the government during their 'Singha Durbar gherao' program will be met with strong retaliation from the party.
Maoist vice chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai speaks about Thursday's Singha Durbar 'gherao' programme during a press conference in Kathmandu on Wednesday, 11 Nov 09. nepalnews.com/NPA
Speaking at an interaction program in the capital Wednesday, the Maoist ideologue advised the government against stopping them from entering the prohibited zone to picket the seat of the government.
The government extended the prohibited areas around the Singha Durbar area on Tuesday in view of the Maoists' plan to picket the government administrative center on Nov. 12 and 13.
Bhattarai, who is also the chairman of the party's United National People's Movement Nepal that is organizing the nationwide agitation, said that the Maoists will bring in hundreds of thousands of people in the streets to break the prohibitory orders on that day to picket Singh Durbar.
He assured that the party will exercise maximum restraint to avoid any untoward incident during their peaceful protests.
But if the government resorts to force, we will retaliate, he warned
SOURCE: NEPAL NEWS
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Posted by Mike Ely on November 10, 2009
Gary pointed out the piece below that appeared in the Nepali Times.
It reports a discussion with Baburam Bhattarai in which he says “contradictory statements from our leaders is one of our weaknesses.”
This is an acknowledgment of an obvious fact: That for a long time, the public remarks by leading Maoists in Nepal have contradicted each other, pointing in different directions and giving different explanations for policy. It is true of individual leaders (including Bhattarai himself) that their remarks (to put it mildly) vary.
This fact has produced quite a bit of debate among those of us who follow the Nepali revolution closely. It has caused controversy. Some forces internationally have seized on this or that phrase to justify their views (often their dismissal) of the Nepali Maoist strategies — as the rest of us repeatedly discover that other phrases are used at other times and create a more textured complexity to that party’s public expression.
What explains this?
•Is it the case that the Nepali Maoists have “loosened” the hold of public discipline — allowing different leaders to act as individual public political players expressing their individual views?
•Is it the case that the line struggle within the Maoist party has become sharp enough that different factions are publicly making their case and fighting for adherents?
•Is it the case that the Maoists are expressing both tactical slogans in the politics of each moment (especially to the daily press), while also expressing long range strategic goals (especially in more formal documents)?
I think it is all of these things.
The Nature and Timing of a Final Assault
I think large revolutionary parties, standing at the edge of life-and-death decisions look like this (and always have).
When the Bolsheviks were planning the 1917 October revolution, two of their top leaders (Zinoviev and Kamenev) took their disagreement public — saying that they wanted an all-socialist coalition government and opposed the idea of a party led insurrection. When Mao and Zhou Enlai were negotiating with the Nixon administration to end the international isolation of “Red China” — the public “Shanghai Communique” had to go through many revisions, not because Nixon was making problems, but because Mao and Zhou had sharply different views on the importance of upholding the need for revolution throughout the world. When the revolutionary workers of Berlin broke out into street fighting in January 1919, the two main communist leaders Rosa Luxenburg and Karl Liebknecht had sharply different ideas about how to act and what to say — and each proceeded to follow their conscience.
Pointing this out does not mean that victory is certain or guaranteed. The struggle developing between Mao and Zhou continued and ultimately resolved itself badly. The differences between Rosa and Karl reflected both the weakness of their theoretical understandings and of their new-born communist organization — and the whole affair ended with their capture and assassination. Such conflicts arise from the difficult choices and adverse conditions faced by all revolutions — and the fact is that most revolutionary opportunities don’t result in successful revolutions or socialism.
But I’m arguing that it does not help to view revolutions through linear thinking — or to believe (in a dogmatic way) that the correct choices are already obvious because they are embedded in this-or-that inherited text. You can’t solve the real problems of real life with voluntarism, fantasy and wishful thinking. And the problems of revolution are rarely simply a matter of will.
Easy for You to Say
I hear from people who feel “encouraged” whenever the Nepali Maoists speak of insurrection, and are then “disappointed” whenever events show more waiting — as if “we” already know the time is ripe for the Nepalis. Perhaps the time is not quite right — to confront and break up the National Army right now. Isn’t that a very material and practical question that requires specific knowledge of the mood of the masses, the divisions among the enemy and the strength of the mobilized revolutionary forces? Isn’t that why communists say that you “can’t play at insurrection” and that “insurrection is an art”? How can any of us possibly evaluate those crucial details from here? And what kind of thinking casually assumes the time has long been right (since 2006? before? forever?) and that revolutionary victory is just a matter of “strategic will”? Isn’t that “easy for you to say”?
Such pubic differences can be, as Bhattarai says, a “weakness.” Certainly if the core of revolutionary forces are unable to agree and act, and certainly if they are unable to collectively find their way through the tactical minefield between disaster and victory, and certainly if a confusion over fundamental goals characterizes the inner party struggle.
Factional Polemics on a Complex Terrain
Bhattarai’s remarks below (if they are in deed his, and if they are accurately conveyed here) have a sharply polemical edge toward “Some of our leaders” who (Bhattarai writes) “have a dogmatic ideology.” It reminds us again, that Bhattarai has repeated represented a distinct pole within the UCPN(Maoist) — and that his remarks sometimes reflect the unified position of his party, and sometimes a highly factional expression.
At the same time, these remarks have that kind of tactical edge which is so hard to read. Bhattarai states: “We want to assure you that this will be a peaceful movement,” when the reporters asked him about his talk of a “final assault against the enemy to complete the revolution.” And sure, obviously, this round of mass protests (which we have just seen unfold in the streets of the capital) were designed from the beginning as a “peaceful movement” — as everyone can see from the videos and reporting. People came without arms. They did not seek street-fighting with the police. They didn’t try to enter or occupy the government offices they shut down. There was a relaxed and even festive air to the actions — with lots of smiles and dancing.
But these actions also seem to serve the function of “dress rehearsal” for the next stages of conflict, some of which may (may!) be anything but peaceful. Certainly the Maoist leadership is now assessing the response of the people and their own cadre to this round of protest and blockades. They are gauging how the police and soldiers responded, and the mood among middle strata. They are training their cadre and former PLA commanders to gather forces, and move in coordinated ways through these urban streets, to find the key strategic government locations, and so on.
Learning from a Living Process
I have to confess that I am often a bit frustrated with various revolutionaries who seem to have a very mechanical and ahistorical sense of the revolutionary process — who seem to think that revolutionaries should announce what they are going to do, in detail with appropriate quotes from the classics, then win the people to those plans, then carry them out. It is a quite voluntarist view of politics — that has little sense of the complexities of mass line and maneuver.
What does Mao mean when he says “the road is tortuous and the future is bright”?
Why does Lenin talk about climbing a mountain as far as he can, and then descending again to find a new way to try a new ascent?
Why do communists speak of joining the people in a process, by which THEY (sections of the actual people broadly) learn about the nature of parties and class forces so that THEY can grasp their own role, interests and needs?
We are watching a real-life process (and thanks to the magic of our times, we are watching it in real time). And like those inhabitants of Plato’s cave, we are watching statements projected as shadows on the cave wall — that represent struggles, summations and concerns that we can’t experience directly.
I repeatedly feel that watching this process can help peel away the idealism and dogmatic fetishism that have built up in our own stunted movement — a movement that, frankly, has suffered from a protracted inability to be part of real politics and which, consequently, often has only the most tenuous schematic sense of what an actual roiling revolutionary movement of millions of real people would be like. Viewed from within vestpocket sectlets, with elaborate beliefs but few followers, an actual revolution can seem compromised and confused, (even sullied) and certainly slow to proclaim the moment of decisive confrontation. And I think again, “that’s easy for you to say.”
* * * * * * * * *
Here is the article from the Nepali Times
Contradiction in terms
Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai admits weakness
Although Maoist ideologue Baburam Bhattarai appeared relaxed at a meeting of Kathmandu-based editors on Wednesday, he was hard pressed to explain comments he made in a revolutionary website last week in which he threatened a “final assault against the enemy to complete the revolution”.
Asked to explain his statement in the interview with the World People’s Resistance Movement in which he predicted “another round of armed clashes” on Thursday, Bhattarai admitted “contradictory statements from our leaders is one of our weaknesses”.
At the meeting with chief editors Bhattarai didn’t just appear moderate, but back-pedalled furiously on his party line. “Some of our leaders have a dogmatic ideology, but that is a peripheral group,” he said. “We will soon be announcing our party line. We want to assure you that this will be a peaceful movement.”
Bhattarai was asked about the declaration of 13 ethnically-demarcated ‘federal republics’, and admitted that it was not going according to the direction of the party leadership, and that it was only a ’symbolic’ gesture to give an ‘identity’ to various ethnic groups.
Bhattarai made a distinction between ‘nationalities’ and ‘ethnicities’ and said the federal units were not a parallel government, but provinces named after ethnicities. “But we are aware that the debate is not going according to our plan,” he admitted, “it is going the wrong way.”
Bhattarai also came across as accommodating on a compromise with the other parties. “Some kind of common resolution from parliament or a gesture from the president would remove the need for protests,” he said. “We want to bring closure to the issue of the president’s move in a manner that would be acceptable to all.”
All this was in stark contrast to Bhattarai’s own recent public speeches and his 26 October WPRM interview, excerpts from which follow:
WPRM: Why did the Maoist party enter the peace process and attempt to change society through Constituent Assembly elections?
Baburam Bhattarai: Our understanding was that after abolishing the monarchy and establishing a bourgeois democratic republic, the proletarian party would take the initiative and launch forward the struggle towards the New Democratic Revolution. We knew the bourgeois forces, after the abolition of the monarchy, would try to resist, and our main contradiction then would be with the bourgeois democratic parties. A new field of struggle would start.
Now we are preparing for the final stage of the completion of the New Democratic Revolution. In a few months, maybe there will be some intervention from the imperialist and expansionist forces. We may again be forced to have another round of armed clashes. We have decided to again focus on the basic masses of the people both in urban and rural areas. In the decisive stage of confrontation with the reactionary forces we could again combine our bases in the rural areas and our support in the urban areas for a final assault against the enemy to complete the revolution.
Can you explain how the UCPN(M) understands the nature of the state in this transitional period? Can the New Democratic Revolution be completed through the holding of an election?
A sort of flux has been created, it has not been stabilised. Within this nature of the state, we think it will be easier for the revolutionary forces to intervene and further destabilise the state, putting pressure on it from outside the state which can be smashed to make a New Democratic state.
What we are talking about is not organising elections within the bourgeois state, we are talking about after the revolution in a New Democratic or socialistic framework, where there will be certain constitutional provisions whereby the reactionaries, imperialists and criminal forces will not be allowed to participate. This concept of competition is only a general concept, the actual mode of that competition we have still to work out.
SOLIDARITY WITH THE OPPRESSED TRIBALS’ STRUGGLE
Speaker: G N Saibaba
Revolutionary Democratic Front India
Friday 27th November 7pm
Merchmont Community Hall
62 Marchmont Street London.
WC1N 1AB, near Russell Square Station
CO-ORDINATION COMMITTEE OF REVOLUTIONARY COMMUNISTS OF BRITAIN
(c/o BM Box 2978, London WC1N 3XX)
Second Wave Publications
George Jackson Socialist League Britain
South Asia Solidarity Forum
World People’s Resistance Movement - Britain
Indian Workers Association (GB)
Democracy and Class Struggle
Posted by Rajeesh on INDIAN VANGUARD November 10, 2009
ON THE morning of October 23, 14 adivasi women walked out of West Bengal’s Midnapore jail in crumpled saris. Frail and bewildered, they wondered how they would travel 100 km back to their villages in Lalgarh. The women did not know why they had been arrested, or why they were being released.
The previous night, these women had been the cause of shrill debate across television studios – their release was equated with the famous Kandahar terrorist swap. Maoists had attacked the Sankrail Police Station in West Bengal, killed two officers and kidnapped the officer in charge (OC). These women — “the Naxal prisoners,” India’s own Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists — were being swapped for OC Atindranath Dutta. A lower court had rejected their bail plea; now a sessions judge in Midnapore had conveniently granted bail.
Then came a piercing outcry: Is the West Bengal Government soft on Maoists? On cue, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya clarified that his government is not weak, that this is a one-off incident, that no such release will ever happen again. Swiftly, Home Minister P Chidambaram distanced himself, saying this was solely a decision of the West Bengal Government. Immediately, Left Front General Secretary Prakash Karat sprung into damage control mode, emphasising his party is indeed against the Maoists. Home Secretary GK Pillai said the swap was unfortunate. Amid the high-decibel rhetoric, no one asked the basic question. Who are these women? What are they guilty of? What is the evidence of their links with the Maoists? Why were they in jail in the first place?
When you see this frenzy over the release of 14 innocent adivasi women – among them a 70-year-old widow – you know there is reason to be afraid. Operation Lalgarh has set off a horrifying blindness, symptomatic of any war zone. There are the troops, there is the enemy; there is nothing in between. Everything else is collateral damage; everyone else, a prisoner of war. When the Centre launches Operation Green Hunt this year, this is what will be replicated on a much larger scale across Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Bihar. There will be many more hostages and neither side may be willing to swap.
If you had met the families of these adivasi women before any such swap was imminent, you’d know there is reason to be afraid. A skeletal Rabi Patro is sewing sal leaves into plates; he earns Rs 50 for every 1,000 plates. He cannot afford the journey to Midnapore jail to meet his wife. Dhanaraj Mahato is grumpy. With his wife gone, he has to feed the cows and goats. Tapasi Baske’s afraid her mother-in-law may never return but her immediate worry is the hen eating up her rice. None of these families have the resources to travel to court or engage a lawyer. None of them know that in a land far away, their kin have already been labelled as Maoists; that the basic tenet of a just State – being deemed innocent until proven guilty – has been reversed.
LOCAL HUMAN rights groups say there have been more than 400 arrests in and around Lalgarh since June 2009. The police put the figure at 388, of which they say 88 have direct links with Maoists. The remaining, they say, are connected to “front organisations of the Maoists” such as the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA). When you begin to examine the evidence, the specific cases against these men and women, a grand charade, a manic witchhunt comes to light. There is a strategy, a pattern. You can be booked for waging war against the State for raising slogans like “Maoist Zindabad, PCAPA Zindabad” at mass protest rallies – rallies you never attended. Arrested as a Maoist for shouting “Run, Kishenji!” while fleeing from the police. The police don’t have to explain how they nabbed you, but missed the much-wanted CPI (Maoist) spokesperson who was apparently in the same crowd. You can be charged for attempting to murder the police with “deadly weapons” such as “brickbats, bows and arrows” though there is no record of police injury. The Maoists could barge into your poultry farm and threaten you to attend rallies and the next day, you could be arrested for “giving shelter to the Maoists”.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Statement on the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison Chairperson,
International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples' Struggle
9 November 2009
Since the fall of the Berlin wall on 9 November 1989, the world capitalist system has sunk deeper into crisis. It is now undergoing its most severe crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, with some commentators calling the present crisis “the Greater Depression” in terms of its effects on the jobs and livelihood of the workers and peoples of the world.
After emerging as the world’s sole superpower in the wake of the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the US itself is wracked by a severe crisis and is further plunging the world with it. The imperialists and its propagandists perorate on how value and value-creation in the economies of the socialist states and then the modern revisionist regimes were distorted by the state bureaucracy.
Now all the countries of the world in varying degrees are reeling from a crisis driven by unbridled private greed under the slogan of “free market globalization” involving the fantastic accumulation of immense wealth by the financial oligarchy and monopoly capitalists through unrelenting super-exploitation of the working people, financial manipulation and the berserk generation of fictitious capital.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the social conditions of the workers and peoples of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have plummeted under the conditions of unbridled capitalist exploitation, oppression and violence. Poverty levels have risen due to massive unemployment and depressed incomes. Inflation has been cutting down the value of wages, pensions and savings.
State investment in production and job creation has been significantly reduced. Public allotment to education and other social services has plummeted. The educated have difficulties finding work and illiteracy is spreading. The workers’ and peoples’ health have taken a beating, causing severe malnutrition, stunting growth among the youth and shortening the average life span of people.
The number of children living in the streets and left to fend for themselves in these very cold countries has multiplied. The suicide rate has grown among them by significant percentages. The situation of the street children and society at large is being further aggravated by the current financial and economic crisis.
The anger and discontent of the workers and peoples of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union are becoming manifest in different ways. Parties of the Left are becoming popular and are gaining strength in national elections. The workers and people are speaking out against the accelerated escalation of exploitation, oppression and violence of the big bourgeoisie.
Survey after survey shows that the people feel they are plunging deeper into poverty and that they are increasingly disillusioned and angry with capitalism and its unfulfilled promises. With the onslaught of the current economic and financial crisis, there is rising interest in and study of Marxist and progressive writings. The imperialists and the local ruling classes are responding to this by deflecting the workers and peoples from the class struggle and anti-imperialist solidarity by promoting divisions and hatred based on chauvinism, racism, ethnocentrism and religious bigotry.
The Comecon is gone. But all the former revisionist-ruled countries are now in the tight grip of the US-controlled world capitalist system and are caught up in the turmoil of the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression. The crisis is whipping up fascism and aggressive wars. The room for inter-imperialist competition has become more cramped and more intense, with Russia and China joining in as big power players.
The Warsaw Pact is gone. But the NATO has been expanded as to include the former revisionist-ruled countries in Eastern Europe, reaching the borders of Russia. Most of the former revisionist-ruled countries are potential hotbeds of fascist repression and aggressive wars as already indicated by the violent disintegration of Yugoslavia by a series of wars instigated by the imperialists and by wars involving Chechnya and Georgia. Mercenary forces from the former revisionist-ruled countries have been deployed by the NATO to distant lands like Iraq and Afghanistan.
The crisis of monopoly capitalism has brought ever-greater suffering among the workers and peoples of the world. The imperialist-controlled multilateral agencies underestimate world hunger when they report that only 1 billion people go hungry out of the more than six billion human population. They say that this is the largest number of people going hungry in history, and the same number of people suffer from malnutrition.
This situation is bound to get worse, as world economic output is predicted to decrease this year, the first time since World War II. The contraction of employment is estimated to last for another eight years. The number of people living on less than $2 per day will increase by hundreds of millions. Decreasing demand for consumer goods, semi-manufactures and raw materials impacts heavily on millions of workers and peasants in neocolonial economies.
The workers and peoples of the world are waging various legal and illegal forms of organized action to protest the anti-people policies of imperialism. International gatherings of the monopoly capitalists, the finance oligarchy, and heads of imperialist states have become occasions for mass protests by indignant workers and peoples in the meeting areas and in various countries. Countries assertive of national independence are exposing and lambasting the dictates and impositions of imperialism.
Armed revolutions for national liberation and democracy are continuing and gaining strength in the Philippines, Colombia, India, Peru and Turkey. The people of Iraq and Afghanistan are waging armed resistance against the occupation and colonization of their countries by the US. The armed forms of struggle are bound to grow in strength and advance as a result of the intensification of the crisis of monopoly capitalism.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the workers and peoples of Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and the world have undergone ever worsening economic and social conditions. They see monopoly capitalism as an evil and bankrupt system that is destroying the world’s productive forces and is inflicting immense suffering on the people.
Monopoly capitalism is igniting the people’s desire for socialism. So long as imperialist oppression and exploitation persist, the people fight for national and social liberation. It is farthest from the truth that monopoly capitalism is the end of history. The utter bankruptcy of monopoly capitalism and its descent to ever more barbarous forms of plunder and aggression drive the people to fight for their rights and for a bright socialist future.
The workers and peoples of the world are called upon to persevere in the struggle for genuine socialism, against monopoly capitalism that is now in the throes of its worst crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The crisis of the world capitalist system makes socialism necessary for humankind.
Contrary to the claims of the imperialists and their propagandists that socialism fell in 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall has actually meant the collapse of the modern revisionist regimes in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and the completion of the restoration of capitalism. It is the end result of the revisionist betrayal of socialism started by Khruschov in 1956 and completed by Gorbachov in the years of 1989-91.
The history of socialist countries from the Bolshevik victory of 1917 up to 1956, and from the founding of the People’s Republic of China up to 1976 shows great leaps in the advancement of the social, economic, political, cultural and defense situations of the workers and peoples of those countries. The poverty, hunger, joblessness, and the cruelties of exploitation and oppression before the victory of the socialist revolution were overcome. The great victories in socialist construction and revolution were achieved despite imperialist wars of aggression and economic and military blockades and subversion.
The rise of modern revisionism in socialist countries and elsewhere reversed all the great achievements of socialism. Advances in the situation of the workers and peoples were slowly but surely eroded, and pre-revolutionary forms of exploitation, oppression and violence were restored. Together with criminal syndicates in the so-called free market, the modern revisionist big bourgeoisie grew fat on bureaucratic corruption and enjoyed the lifestyles of the rich and famous, while the workers and peoples suffered from the decrease in food, jobs, savings and social services.
As workers and peoples grew restive and began clamoring for reforms, the ruling revisionist regimes imposed severe political repression. In Eastern Europe, and in East Germany especially, this condition fueled the mass protests that brought about the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The revisionist regimes in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union peacefully gave up power and gave way to the legalization of their bureaucratic loot, the barefaced restoration of capitalism and the blatant privatization of state assets.
Since Nikita Khrushchov’s reign in the Soviet Union, genuine proletarian revolutionaries the world over have called the ruling regimes in the Soviet Union and its satellite states in Eastern Europe as modern revisionists, who mouth socialism but practice capitalism. They have predicted that it will not take long before capitalism reveals itself bare-faced in these countries.
The fall of the Wall has shown how accurate their predictions are. The modern revisionists in these countries have since exposed themselves as pseudo-communists and anti-communists. It is modern revisionism, not socialism, which fell with the Berlin Wall and delivered the workers and peoples of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe into the even more predatory and violent rule of barefaced capitalism. The revisionists had earlier undermined, eroded and destroyed socialism.
Since 1989 up to the present, imperialism and its well-paid propagandists in the mass media and academe have tirelessly repeated their line on the fall of the Berlin Wall. They have misrepresented the revisionist regimes as socialist and boasted that their fall meant the futility of socialism and the end of history with capitalism and liberal democracy.
They have touted the jump from the frying pan of revisionist-ruled state monopoly capitalism to the flames of barefaced capitalism as the beginning of development and democracy. But the imperialist powers are incomparable in discrediting monopoly capitalism through their unbridled plunder and wars of aggression and the recurrent and increasingly severe crisis.
The workers and peoples of the world are subjected to ever-increasing exploitation, oppression and violence and are impelled to wage resistance, seek national and social liberation and aim for the attainment of socialism. The present crisis, which has been generated by the US-directed policy of neoliberal “globalization” in the last three decades, incites the people to struggle for socialism.
The world capitalist system continues to sink deeper into crisis. It is devastating jobs and livelihood of the workers and peoples of the world. The profuse use of public funds to bail out the big banks and corporations in the military industrial complex is building bigger bubbles than ever before. These are bound to burst and cause a steeper fall in the crisis.
The US and its imperialist allies have generated the global financial and economic crisis, have plunged the world into a state of economic depression and have aggravated and deepened the conditions for state terrorism and aggressive wars.
The combination of state monopoly capitalism and monopoly capitalism in imperialist countries is responsible for the unprecedentedly greatest devastation of productive forces through the most rapacious forms of private profit-taking and private accumulation, including the wanton creation of fictitious capital.
We are in the era of modern imperialism and proletarian revolution. Further economic crisis, social disorder, state terrorism and imperialist wars of aggression are in prospect. These are the objective conditions for the rise of revolutionary movements for national and social liberation led by the working class.
Friday, November 6, 2009
October 30, 2009
CHIDAMBARAM CANNOT FOOL PEOPLE WITH THE DRAMA OF TALKS AT GUN-POINT! AS LONG AS STATE TERROR AND MASSACRES OF UNARMED ADIVASIS CONTINUE THERE IS NO QUESTION OF TALKS!!
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister Chidambaram have been putting forth the most absurd proposal for talks with the CPI (Maoist)
provided the latter abjured violence. While amassing thousands of
paramilitary forces in the Maoist-dominated areas in the country and
carrying out brutal attacks against unarmed adivasi people and the
Maoist revolutionaries, they are shamelessly talking of violence by
Maoists. According to the grand plan of the reactionary rulers a total
of 75,000 central forces, assisted by tactical air support by IAF
choppers, will go to war by the end of this month. An equal number of
police forces from the states will join these central forces to carry
out the biggest ever military offensive against the people in general
and the Maoists in particular. While deploying such a huge force,
which is greater in size than the armies of most countries in the
world, Chidambaram is trying to fool the people that he is not going
to war with the Maoists. It is the state terror, saffron terror, and
state-sponsored terror that have become the greatest threat to peace
and security in our country. The Congress-led UPA government has to
its credit the massacre of over 2000 people and Maoist revolutionaries
in the past five years. And yet, Manmohan and Chidambaram have the
audacity to say that their government is implementing the “rule of
law” and ask the Maoists to lay down arms and sit for talks.
Asking Maoists to lay down arms as a pre-condition for talks shows the
utter ignorance of Manmohan and Chidambaram regarding the historical
and socio-economic factors that had given rise to the Maoist movement
or are too intoxicated by the brute force they possess by which they
dream they can stamp out a movement rooted in the socio-economic
for the defence of people’s rights and for achieving their liberation
from all types of exploitation and oppression. As long as oppression
and exploitation exist, people will continue to be armed in ever
greater number. However, an agreement could be reached by both sides
on a cease-fire if Manmohan and Chidambaram give up their irrational,
illogical, impractical, absurd and obstinate stand that the Maoists
should abjure violence. They should be introspective and decide
whether they are prepared to abjure state terror and unbridled
violence on the people. If at all they are serious about talks then
they should first create a conducive atmosphere by earnestly
implementing at least what is guaranteed by the Indian constitution by
which they swear.
They should stop illegal abductions of Maoists and people suspected to
be supporting Maoists. They should put an immediate halt to torture
and murder of unarmed people, instruct their so-called security forces
to desist from raping women in Maoist-dominated areas, abandon their
policy of destroying the property of the people and burning adivasi
villages. They should withdraw the police and para-military camps from
the school buildings, panchayat community buildings and from the
interior areas so as to instill a sense of security among the people.
They should disband the state-sponsored armed vigilante gangs like
salwa judum, sendra, gram suraksha samiti, nagarik suraksha samiti,
shanti sena, harmad bahini, and other blood-thirsty mercenary gangs
that are unconstitutionally established by the police top brass and
the ruling class parties. An impartial judicial commission of enquiry
should be formed to go into the inhuman atrocities by the police,
CRPF, other central forces and the vigilante gangs on Maoists and the
people at large and basing on the investigations the culprits should
be punished as per the law. All those arrested for being Maoists or on
suspicion of aiding the Maoists, including people in particular who do
not have any connection with our organisation, should be released
unconditionally. They should repeal all draconian laws and Acts such
as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Chhattisgarh Special
Powers Act, Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), etc. They should
disband the government-organised concentration camps in the name of
rehabilitation of the adivasis displaced from their villages, pay
adequate compensation to over two lakh adivasis who were forcibly
displaced by the salwa judum gangs and the CRPF-police combine. All
those who have become victims of state and state-sponsored terror,
i.e., those who were murdered, maimed, raped and pushed into a state
of mental trauma should be given adequate compensation.
As for socio-economic issues, the lands of the tribals should be
handed back to them wherever they are snatched from them; the mining
and other so-called development projects that lead to displacement of
the tribals and destruction of their way of life should be immediately
disbanded. All the MOUs signed with the imperialist MNCs like Vedanta
and the big business houses like the Tatas, Mittals, Essar, Jindal,
etc should be scrapped. The much trumpeted policy of Special Economic
Zones which is nothing but to create enclaves of foreign occupation
and imperialist plunder that ruin havoc in the social, economic,
ecologic and cultural lives of the people living in these areas should
be immediately scrapped along with the colonial policy of land
acquisition. The lands snatched away from the tribals by unscrupulous
landlords, other non-adivasis, and by the government should be
restored to their rightful owners. If these are fulfilled, then one
can think of talks to discuss on the deeper issues that are blocking
the real development of our country.
The CC, CPI (Maoist) unequivocally asserts that the government’s
proposal for peace talks is only a propaganda ploy that in no way
differs from the peace proposals of Hitler prior to World War II.
After the Cabinet Committee on Security had given the final approval
for the massive offensive against the Maoists, after the IAF choppers
are ready with the Garuda commandos and gunships to pulverize the
adivasi areas, these war-mongers are talking of peace! We appeal to
all democratic and peace-loving forces to expose the hypocrisy and
double-speak of Manmohan, Chidambaram, Raman Singh, Buddhadeb and
others and oppose their war preparations against the oppressed
downtrodden people of our country who are waging a struggle for land,
livelihood and liberation from inhuman feudal and imperialist
. . . (A) Marxism stripped of its revolutionary essence is a contradiction in terms with no reason for being and no power to survive. -- Paul M Sweezy (1983: 7)
Anuradha Ghandy (Anu as we knew her) was a member of the central committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) [CPI (Maoist)]. Early on, she developed a sense of obligation to the poor; she joined them in their struggle for bread and roses, the fight for a richer and a fuller life for all. Tragically, cerebral malaria took her away in April last year. What is this spirit that made her selflessly adopt the cause of the damned of the Indian earth -- the exploited, the oppressed, and the dominated -- as her own? The risks of joining the Maoist long march seem far too dangerous to most people, but not for her -- bold, courageous and decisive, yet kind, gentle and considerate. Perhaps her days were numbered, marked as she was on the dossiers of the Indian state's repressive apparatus as one of the most wanted "left-wing extremists". That oppressive, brutal structure has been executing a barbaric counter-insurgency strategy -- designed to maintain the status quo -- against the Maoist movement in India. What is it that is driving the Indian state, hell-bent as it is to cripple and maim the spirit that inspires persons like Anu? Practically the whole Indian polity -- from the semi-fascist Bharatiya Janata Party to the main affiliate of the parliamentary left, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) -- have pitched in against the Maoists, backing a massive planned escalation of the deployment of paramilitary-cum-armed-police, this time with logistical support from the military, to crush the rebels. It seems that sections of monopoly capital -- including ArcelorMittal, the Essar Group, Vedanta Resources, Tata Steel, POSCO, and the Sajjan Jindal Group -- have given an ultimatum to the state governments concerned and the union government that they will dump their proposed mining/industrial/SEZ projects if the local resistance to their business plans are not crippled once and for all.
Righteous indignation against "left-wing extremism" has reached a crescendo, buttressed as it is by sections of the commercial media, with images and profiles (dished out to the fourth estate by anti-terrorist squad officers) of apprehended revolutionists a source of excitement for TV audiences. A year and a half ago, my son -- lanky, unkempt, his hair dishevelled -- came home from school one day to tell us that his teacher called him a Naxalite (what the Maoists are popularly called). I asked him, "How did you react?" He queried, "Daddy, who are these guys, these Naxalites?" I answered, "Well, they are rebels who resent the deep injustice meted out to the poor." He responded, "Well then, I feel proud to be called a Naxalite". The boy is still very young, but he will soon approach that wonderful time of his life when his urge to understand what is going on in the country and the world will be unquenchable. More recently, a malicious and vengeful advertisement by the home ministry in the newspapers painted the Maoists as "cold-blooded criminals". Maybe it is time for me to consider how I will answer his question: What is Maoism?
An answer to such a query requires a stepwise approach to finding first answers to questions such as: What is Marxism? What is Leninism? What is Stalinism? Only then, can one get to understand what Maoism is all about. For, after all, Mao's Marxism undoubtedly stemmed from the Leninist school; he applied Marxism, Leninism (the latter, a school of Marxism in the age of imperialism) and Stalinism (a decomposed form of Leninism which he also struggled to overcome and go beyond), as a method of analysis of the social reality of China. But more, he intervened in that reality through conscious social political action guided by Marxist theory and from the late 1920s to the end of the 1960s continuously learnt from events, thus making possible an enrichment of the original.
What has come to be known as Maoism had its material roots in China's underdevelopment, the failed practice of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the urban areas in the 1920s, and its subsequent peasant-cum-guerrilla-based movement in the countryside. Theoretically, and in practice, Mao's Marxism was enriched by overcoming and going beyond Stalin's mechanical interpretation of Marx's theory of history. And, Mao constantly applied Marx's "materialist dialectics" in helping to understand and resolve multiple "contradictions" -- internal conflicts tending to split what is functionally united -- with the likely outcome following from the reciprocal actions of the opposing tendencies. It is the fusion of all of this with the original Marxism and Leninism that constitutes Maoism. Like Marxism, at its best, it is a comprehensive world view, a method of analysis and a guide to practice, not a set of dogmas. What then is meant by the Maoist dictum "learn truth from practice"?
With this preview, we are now in a position to move on. At the outset itself, let me say that while I speak solely for myself, I make no claim whatsoever to originality. I wrote this piece as a self-clarifying exercise and submitted it for publication in the hope that it might help others like me, striving to be educated about matters that are not academic.
What Is Marxism?
In searching for an answer to this question, I can do no better than what the Monthly Review has taught me. In one of the founder-editor's words (Sweezy 1985: 2):
Marxism is above all, a comprehensive world view, what Germans call a Weltanschauung -- a body of philosophical, economic, political, sociological, scientific . . . principles, all interrelated and together forming an independent and largely self-sufficient intellectual structure. . . . It is a guide to life and social practice, and in the long run its validity can only be judged by its fruits.
In its view, prior to the development of capitalism, civilization had been impossible without exploitation; the social surplus appropriated was (1985: 3-4)
concentrated in the hands of a few, so that luxury, wealth, civilization at one pole was necessarily matched by poverty, misery, and degradation at the other.
It was into such a world that capitalism was born . . . incomparably the most productive and in that sense progressive society the world had ever seen. . . . [I]ndeed, for the first time ever it made possible a society in which exploitation and the concentration of the surplus in the hands of a few was no longer the necessary condition for civilization.
Now humanity faced . . . a prospect without precedent. Would it go forward to a new and higher, non-exploitative form of civilization . . . or would the exploitation of the many by the few continue to be the way of human life?
Marx believed that . . . capitalism . . . would never be able to make use of . . . [society's productive forces] for the benefit of the workers who he thought were on their way to becoming the majority of the population. . . . Sooner or later . . . the workers would become conscious of their real class interests, organize themselves into a powerful revolutionary force, seize power from the capitalists, and begin the transition to a communist society from which exploitation and classes would finally be abolished.
It hasn't worked out that way. Workers in the more developed capitalist countries were able to make enough gains by struggle within the system to forestall the emergence of a revolutionary consciousness. A significant part of these gains came at the expense of dependent and exploited countries of the third world, which were thereby prevented from using their resources for their own independent development. As a result, the centre of revolutionary struggle shifted from the advanced to the retarded parts of the capitalist world.
At this point, it must be said that while Marxists share a conception of reality, they differ in many respects in explaining the world and in assessing it. Also, the intellectual structure created by the founders of Marxism -- Marx and Engels -- has been significantly modified and adapted, as it no doubt should, with advances in human knowledge and understanding, and with the development of capitalism into a global system. But, and of course, its scientific validity should be judged in the first instance by its contributions to the ability to explain reality.
However, there's something even more exacting -- in the very long run, Marxism has to be judged by the fruits of its project of taking humanity along the road towards equality, cooperation, community, and solidarity. We should have done this earlier, but it is now apt to bring into focus the most crucial character of Marxism, something, following Sweezy, we alluded to in the beginning of this article. The whole purpose of constructing and re-constructing its distinctive intellectual structure to understand the world was and is so that this exercise may lay the basis of changing society for the better. This is stated most succinctly in Marx's 1845 Theses on Feuerbach: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point however is to change it." But integrating theory and practice (developing a strategy and a set of tactics for changing the world for the better and implementing them) is far more difficult and messy a project.
Marx and Engels wrote The Communist Manifesto in December 1847 and January 1848, but they never even attempted to define, let alone provide, any blueprint of the transitional society (their followers called it socialism) which would in time -- that was the expectation -- evolve asymptotically towards communism, never really reaching it. As Sweezy has it, in Marx and Engels' conception, the transitional society ("socialism")1 would begin its existence as "primarily a negation of capitalism which would develop its own positive identity (communism) through a revolutionary struggle in which the proletariat would remake society and in the process remake itself" (1983: 2-3).
But, frankly, the proletariat in the developed capitalist countries, for reasons already mentioned, was increasingly losing its quality as the source and carrier of revolutionary practice. The development of the working class, the advance of human capability -- always at the very centre of the forces of production -- was not perceived by the workers as being hindered by the relations of production; the latter was not discerned as intolerable by the workers as long as they were able to extract better terms from capital through their struggles (strikes, etc) within the confines of the system. Why should they then bear the risk of losing what they were gaining in the present when what they could gain by revolting against the system was highly uncertain and far away in the future? In other words, Marx and Engels didn't blame the workers for the lack of a revolutionary consciousness; the objective conditions weren't there for its germination.
What then of early Marxism (it was not called Marxism is Marx's time, but for convenience we are designating even that period within its scope) in its mistaken expectation, drawn mainly from its analysis of the living and working conditions of the working class (in Engels' The Condition of the Working Class in England, written in late 1844, early 1845 when he was 24) and the logic of Marx's the famous 1859 Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy that that class in the advanced capitalist countries would eventually, sooner or later, revolt and emancipate itself? The at first spontaneous, and later on organised, struggles of the workers, led by the parties of the left, were eventually able to force the ruling class and its political representatives to bring in the factory laws and various social legislations, and implement them, which convinced the workers that things could get better even within the confines of capitalism. In this, no doubt the surplus from the toilers in the colonies/neo-colonies/semi-colonies/dependent countries (the "periphery"), shared not only between the local elites and the ruling classes in the "centre", but also to an extent, by the working classes there, helped provide part of the cushion. As a result capital at the "centre" got richer and stronger too.
Marx and Engels didn't take all of these developments into account and so proved wrong in their expectations of a socialist Europe. But, to his great credit, Marx did brilliantly take account of -- besides the massive expropriation in Britain through the enclosures -- capitalism's pillage, in its mercantilist phase, of what later came to be called the "periphery" or the third world, in Part VIII of Capital, Volume 1, entitled "The So-Called Primitive Accumulation". He also did not ignore "unequal exchange" -- through siphoning a part of the surplus created in production via funds used by a distinct class for trade in commodities (merchant capital) -- with the periphery, in the competitive phase of capitalism. Basically, merchant capital played a crucial role in the periphery, albeit as an appendage of industrial capital at the centre (Kay 1975). Marx had not the opportunity to re-orient his theory of accumulation to take account of what had begun to happen at the end of his life, the emergence of capitalism as a global system with the ushering in of monopoly capitalism. But, we have it from Sweezy (1967: 16) that he was fully aware of the causal relationship between the development of capitalism at the "centre", in his day, in Europe and the development of underdevelopment in the "periphery". Early Marxism however proved inadequate in elaborating a theory of accumulation on a world scale that would explain the functioning of capitalism as a global system. All the same, Marx suggested a way of analysing capitalism -- how capital got its wealth from the pillage of the "periphery", from expropriation through the enclosures, from the surplus labour of workers in the past, and from the acquisition of smaller and weaker units of capital; how the superstructure (the state, the legal system, the dominant ideology and culture) was adapted and modified to facilitate all of this; and with what potentialities. That method was "materialist dialectics", which was applied by the best of his followers -- two of whom were Lenin and Mao -- to understand the ever-changing world and to intervene to change it for the better.
Meanwhile, the parties leading the various working class movements in Europe, members of the Second International, continued to pay lip service to the cause of proletarian revolution. But, soon they were exposed for what they really had become when in 1914 they supported their respective governments in the war, an act demonstrating nothing less than the self-destruction of internationalism, and the quashing of many a hope of proletarian revolution. With the possibility of the workers making significant economic, social and political gains within the confines of capitalism at the "centre", Marxism was "revised", re-fashioned by Eduard Bernstein and others to empty it of its revolutionary content. Of course, this was not Marxism anymore, but given the objective conditions in Europe, the "revisionist" doctrine took the place of the revolutionary one there.
What Is Leninism? What Is Stalinism?
It was in these the worst of times that Lenin, a thoroughly orthodox Marxist, struck a momentous chord on the political stage with his pamphlet, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916), explaining the war then raging in terms of a division of the world into separate spheres of influence and the inter-capitalist struggles for its re-division. Lenin's purpose was limited mainly to explain the nature of the war then underway and what should be done by socialists leading the working class. Lenin urged that rather than fighting and killing each other in this imperialist war, the workers must be convinced to convert the imperialist war into a civil war to overthrow their respective bourgeoisies. The impact of accumulation on a world scale in shaping the nature of "underdevelopment" of the "periphery" and, in turn, the accumulation of capital at the "centre" -- and the consciousness of the working class there -- were not the focus.
Instead, in Lenin's view, the super-profits of monopoly capital were, among other things, used to bribe an upper stratum of the working class -- thereby creating an "aristocracy" of labour -- and some leaders of the working class movements. Lenin thus blamed the political leaderships of the social-democratic parties leading the movements of their respective working classes and their betrayal of the majority of their respective proletariats. The fact that the objective conditions in Europe had changed, which thwarted the permeation of a revolutionary consciousness in the workers on the continent, eluded him. But it may be said -- on the whole -- of Lenin and the Bolsheviks that in the course of their practice they rescued Marxism from those of its adherents who mistakenly and mechanically interpreted Marx as a "historical determinist".
But let me explain the Marxist position. A "determinist" way of thinking argues that history and the given conditions existing on the ground uniquely determine what is likely to happen next. In pure contrast, a "voluntarist" point of view holds that almost anything can happen subject to the will and positive resolve of effective leaders and the resolute support they get from their followers. In my view, Marxism is neither "determinist" nor "voluntarist" -- in its conception, at any given moment there are a range of possible outcomes, determined both by history and the existing conditions and context. The actual outcome from among this set will depend on social action. That is, which particular intermediate goal the leaders choose from the range of possibilities ("strategy"), and whether they and their supporters go about trying to achieve that result with appropriate tactics and respond "correctly" to the course of events that unfold. Clearly, Lenin -- and Stalin, and Trotsky, we might add -- put great weight on patterns of leadership -- centralized direction by a revolutionary elite. Mao did not disagree with this, but from experience emphasized the necessity of honest and correct feedback from the party rank and file and the masses.
Stalin has called Leninism the Marxism of the era of "imperialism" and "proletarian dictatorship". But he is one who evokes deep anguish among many socialists. On the one hand, he was the only top leader among the Bolsheviks who came from the wretched of the earth (his father was a poor cobbler and his mother was of poor peasant-serf stock), fortunate to have been educated at a religious seminary; it was under his leadership that the Soviet Union and its Red Army vanquished the might of the German armed forces in the Second World War to safeguard humanity from fascism. And as long as he lived it was possible to believe (mistakenly, in the view of some) in the existence of a global co-ordinated movement in active revolutionary conflict with capitalism and imperialism. But, on the other hand, he consigned Leninism and socialism to the grave -- that which is not democratic can never be socialist. Indeed, as Harry Braverman (1969: 54) put it:
The destruction of the old Bolshevik Party closed innumerable possibilities to the Soviet Union, and it is hard to envision them all. [And, in a footnote, he adds] Stalin did not stop with the annihilation of the left and the right oppositions, led respectively by Trotsky and Bukharin. He turned on his own faction, and, as Khrushchev told the Twentieth Congress, executed 98 of 139 (70 percent) of the Central Committee selected at the Seventeenth Congress in 1934.
Paresh Chattopadhyay (2005) argues that the very notion of socialism in Lenin and the other early Bolsheviks' (before Stalin's consolidation of power) was completely at odds with that of Marx. The suggestion seems to be that, given this original flaw, and economic and social backwardness, it was only a matter of time before the ruling elite in the Soviet Union metamorphosed into a ruling class, legitimizing its authoritarian (and, in this view, exploitative) rule in the name of Marxism. Certainly, as a result, Marxism and Leninism have been discredited in the eyes of many. After all, following the seizure of power in October 1917, didn't the means begin to shape the very ends to eventually overwhelm the socialist aspiration? However, I think one should take account of what has come to be called "Lenin's last struggle" -- warning of serious danger from the growth of a ruling bureaucracy and from the "crudity" of Stalin. Beyond this, it seems to me, and I have come to believe this, that given the existence of class, patriarchy, racism (and caste, one might add) over millennia, power and compulsion are deeply rooted in social reality; indeed, they have almost become part of the basic inherited (but not unchangeable) human condition, which leads one to make a very strong case for civil and democratic rights and liberties (these have been gained through historic struggles waged by the underdogs) that should not be allowed to be abrogated come what may.
For our purpose over here, however, it would be pertinent to briefly mention the way Lenin conceived of the revolution in "backward" capitalist Russia where, in his analysis, the bourgeoisie and its political representatives were incapable of bringing about the "bourgeois-democratic revolution" -- overthrowing czarism and seizing and dismantling the feudal estates -- making it imperative that the working class in alliance with the peasants take over that task, only to quickly move on to the next stage, that of socialist revolution. In all of this, the worker-peasant alliance was to be led by the vanguard party. Lenin's conception of such a party then becomes germane -- its purpose was to politically organise and bring revolutionary ideas to the working class, more generally, the masses, and lead the revolution to establish a "dictatorship of the proletariat". Marx had conceptualized the latter as a system in which, following the seizure of power, this would be the regime in which the proletariat would "not only exercise the sort of hegemony hitherto exercised by the bourgeoisie", but a "form of government, with the working class actually governing, and fulfilling many of the tasks hitherto performed by the state", and Lenin fully endorsed this view (Miliband 2000: 151). Of course, in Lenin's way of thinking, the dictatorship of the proletariat was to be exercised by the workers under the guidance of the vanguard party.
The latter evolved over time -- in the conditions imposed by illegality, inner-party organisation was different in 1902 from that following 1905, and then February 1917, when a mass-based party adhering to "democratic centralism" was seen to fit the bill. Democratic centralism was conceived as an inner-party organisational principle and practice where the various factions within the party strictly adhere to the guideline "freedom of discussion, unity of action" (Johnstone 2000: 135). Of course, what happened in practice was the stamping out of the democratic component; in 1921, factions were virtually outlawed, something Stalin is said to have taken advantage of to ultimately secure his domination of the party (Johnstone 2000a: 408-409). In parallel, the dictatorship of the proletariat -- conceived as a dictatorship over the former ruling classes, but a democratic role model as far as the masses were concerned -- came to be "widely associated with the dictatorship of the party and the state over the whole of society, including the proletariat" (Miliband 2000: 152), which came to be associated with Stalinism.
Stalinism -- a decomposed version of Leninism closely associated with the regime in the Soviet Union from the late 1920s to the time of Stalin's death in 1953 -- has to be seen, as Ralph Miliband rightly emphasised, in the context of Russian history (2000a: 517). However, given the constraint of brevity, we can, at most, only list its principal characteristics, drawing largely -- but not uncritically -- from Miliband (Ibid: 517-19):
•the outlook that it is possible to build "socialism in one country";
•the opinion that under socialism there must be a very strong state;
•the view that class struggle intensifies with the advance of socialism;
•the cult of personality, with an obsessive focus on the supreme leader's will;
•forced collectivisation and rapid industrialisation;
•crude suppression of dissent, and of critical intelligence and free discussion within the party;
•the "political" trials and the purges, and elimination of most of the major figures of the Bolshevik Revolution;
•the forced-labour camps where thousands of ordinary people suffered complete ruin (recalling this makes me cry);
•opposition to fascism and a decisive contribution to the Allied victory over it; and,
•the discrediting of Marxism-Leninism because of a mechanical interpretation of it, and its stamping as official state ideology to legitimise elite/ruling-class power.
All the same, it seems that Lenin's aspiration and vision of the socialist state -- as expressed in State and Revolution, written in the summer of 1917 -- after the seizure of power was inspired by Marx's lauding of the 1871 Paris Commune and drawing lessons from it about the future socialist "state". Marx was emphatic that the working class, after taking power, should not simply take control of the existing structure, institutions and machinery of the old state, all of which had to be "smashed" and replaced by a state of a radically new type. As Ralph Miliband (2000b: 524) sets forth Marx's depiction of the credo of the Commune, which Lenin seems to have accepted, and the role of the party envisaged by the latter in his tract, State and Revolution:
[All state officials] would be elected, be subject to recall at any time and their salary would be fixed at the level of workers' wages. Representative institutions would be retained, but the representatives would be closely and constantly controlled by their electors, and also subject to recall. In effect, the proletarian majority was intended not only to rule but actually to govern in a regime which amounted to the exercise of semi-direct popular power.
A very remarkable feature of State and Revolution, given the importance Lenin always attributed to the role of the party, is the quite subsidiary role it is allotted in this instance.
But Lenin's vision of the socialist state "did not survive the Bolshevik seizure of power". Yet, he "never formally renounced the perspectives which had inspired State and Revolution". Can we thus conclude that Lenin wanted "the creation of a society in which the state would be strictly subordinated to the rule and self-government of the people" (Miliband 2000b: 525)? The contrast between theory and practice, in this respect, couldn't have been starker. Frankly, one has to clearly distinguish between what one says and what one does. After all, what happened to the Congress of Soviets -- soviets which had the potential to be self-governing organs of the workers and the peasants -- that had arisen almost spontaneously from the movement of February 1917? By the summer of 1918 the soviets had no more than a mere formal existence. The main institution of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies (independent of any one party), took the back seat, with the party leadership at the steering (Miliband 1970). Indeed, the dictatorship of the proletariat was deemed impossible except through the leadership of the single party; socialist pluralism too got precluded (Ibid). But, to be fair, it is important though to note that Lenin, in his last writings, expressed the need to create the basis for popular self-governance, for which, he felt, there must be a genuine revolution, where culture flowers among the people. Was he then calling for a "cultural revolution", something that Mao launched in China in 1966 with the aim of "preventing capitalist restoration" (Thomson 1970: 125)?
Maoism: Evolution and Development2
Millennia are too long: Let us dispute over mornings and evenings. -- Mao Zedong (1963)
The conventional wisdom of the day presents Mao as some kind of a "monster", for instance, in Jung Chang and Jon Halliday's 2005 book, Mao: The Unknown Story, which, in its obsessive intent to denigrate Mao, is least concerned with the known facts about the man (Gao 2008: chapters 4 and 5). Indeed, in Li Zhisui's The Private Life of Chairman Mao, he is made out to be a "monstrous lecher" by a doctor, bent on disparaging Mao, shabbily doctoring the facts (Gao 2008: chapter 6). It is evident that a "battle for China's past" is underway, with the elite intelligentsia leading the attack. The latter are Chinese, who were the victims, real or imagined, direct or indirect, of the Cultural Revolution, and some leading lights in the "China Studies" field the world over, who have always been prone to somersaults depending on the direction of the political wind in Washington. For instance, their positions have shifted from "disparaging" during the period of Cold War hostility to "grudgingly complementary" following Sino-US détente in the early 1970s, and then to "Mao-was-all-wrong; Mao-is-to-blame" with the great reversal in China in the post-Mao period when the official view turned anti-Maoist, and the ideology of neo-liberalism took hold.3
The credo of objectivity that is repeatedly claimed is a myth. It is not surprising that in a world where "the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas", the views of the beneficiaries of the cultural revolution, the peasants and the workers, who gained in terms of education, healthcare and other aspects of social welfare, as well as the "voice" they got in the fields and the factories and in the political arena, are not being heard (Gao 2008).
With this necessary communication of the side I lean on, let me then get to the origins of Maoism, which got its lease on life in the immediate aftermath of the eventual rejection of the disastrous line of "united front from within" (leading to restraints on organisational independence), which was virtually forced on the CCP by the Third International (the Comintern) in 1923. It was claimed by the latter that the Kuomintang (KMT), led by Chang Kai-shek (after Sun Yat-sen died in March 1925), represented the "revolutionary national bourgeoisie" of China. This alliance was supposed to produce national liberation and the bourgeois-democratic revolution (revolution led by the bourgeoisie in alliance with the workers and peasants) but led only to the disastrous defeat of the communists at the hands of Chang's counterrevolution in 1927, leading to the civil war (1928-35).
But even in defeat there was a silver lining: no doubt the Chang-led KMT controlled the bulk of the armed forces; but the Fourth Army deserted in August 1927 to join the communists, which led to the founding of the Red Army. A new leadership of the CCP gradually began to coalesce around Mao; however, it was only by around 1932 that this budding "Maoist" authority gained legitimacy and the CCP could forge, and refine over time, its own strategy and path to achieve the goals of the "new democratic revolution" (NDR).
For our purpose over here, it must be mentioned that the Comintern had mechanically extended Marx's historical analysis of the transition from feudalism to capitalism in Europe to the colonies/semi-colonies/neo-colonies, merely adding that imperialism had allied there with the feudalists to maintain and consolidate its power. It was then assumed that the national bourgeoisie would take the lead in the struggle against imperialism and feudalism/semi-feudalism, and therefore it was the duty of the communists there to rally the masses in support of such a project, for it would lead to national independence and bourgeois democracy, without which the struggle for socialism would have had to be indefinitely postponed. But, as we have seen, such a policy led to the disastrous defeat of the communists in China in 1927. The so-called national bourgeoisie proved to be nothing but the ally of imperialism against the communists.
It was the CCP under Mao that most effectively challenged the Comintern line by refusing to surrender control and leadership to those who could not be relied upon to carry through to the very end the struggle for genuine national independence or the fight against feudalism/semi-feudalism. The quality of the leadership was crucially important (Sweezy 1976: 10). It adopted the strategy of protracted people's war (PPW), which relied on the peasants, built rural base areas, carried out "land to the tiller" and other social policies (for instance, dealing with the gender question through the mobilization of women in the countryside) in these areas (run democratically as miniature, self-reliant states), thereby building up a political mass base in the countryside to finally encircle and "capture" the cities.
Here it needs to be emphasised that it was only during the anti-Japanese resistance (1937-45), when the contradiction between Japanese imperialism and national independence became the principal one (playing the leading role), relegating the fight between feudalism and the masses to a secondary and subordinate position, that the CCP managed to shift nationalist opinion progressively in its favour. It was in this period that it overcame its confinement in the rural areas to move on to the national stage, extend the PPW and capture the popular imagination. The CCP could not have successfully "captured" the cities, but for the massive nationalist upsurge in the course of the anti-Japanese resistance turning decisively in its favour due to its correct handling of the unity and struggle between nationalism and anti-imperialism, leading on to the successful completion of the NDR.4
At the core of the NDR was opposition to the transformation of the society under the leadership of the bourgeoisie and its political representatives. The NDR -- unambiguously led by the communist party -- suppressed the big bourgeoisie because, even as it retained private capitalist enterprise, it was primarily meant to create the prerequisites for socialism.
At the heart of the course of the NDR, from 1927 to 1949, was the building of base areas, involving the following (Gurley1976: 70-71):
•achieving victory in the political struggle, thereby establishing the basis for running a miniature state in the base area;
•winning the economic struggle -- land to the tiller, land investigation, promotion of mutual aid and cooperation, and achieving the development of the productive forces (the material means of production and human capabilities) in agriculture and small industry; and
•carrying out the cultural and ideological struggle, with a great deal of overlapping among the three.
All of this -- whether political, economic, or cultural and ideological -- entailed following the "mass line", which is a distinctive feature of Maoism. This is a method of involving the masses in how, for instance, each of the above is to be done and then implementing what had been decided upon with their participation. The party leaders thereby correctly understand the opinions of the people and so fashion the required policies in a manner the masses will support and actively implement. Mao summed this up pithily as: "from the masses, to the masses". Indeed, in the process of participating in the "land to the tiller", land investigation, and in the ideological struggles, the people understood the local class structure and the ideas and institutions bolstering the status quo (Gurley 1976: 71-72).
This brings us to three crucial dimensions of Maoist theory and practice in trying to enrich the democratic process in the Leninist vanguard party, the mass organizations, and the society. In the Maoist conception of the vanguard party, just like in Lenin's, centralised guidance by a revolutionary elite is at the core, and this elite leadership is drawn from intellectuals, workers and peasants, with the difference that workers and peasants are sought to be represented, over time, in greater proportion. What is however distinctive in Mao is the conscious effort to fuse the inner-party organisational principle of democratic centralism ("freedom of discussion, unity of action") with the mass line ("from the masses, to the masses"), the mass organisations under party leadership providing the crucial link between the two. However, a word over here about the claim of the vanguard party being led by the proletariat might be in order. Here, as Benjamin Schwartz (1977: 26) explains, in Maoism, the term "proletarian" refers to a set of moral qualities -- "self-abnegation, limitless sacrifice to the needs of the collectivity, guerrilla-like self-reliance, unflagging energy . . . iron discipline, etc" -- as the norm of true collectivist behaviour. Proletarian leadership then comes to be constituted by a set of intellectuals, workers and peasants who excel in these moral requirements.
We are thus beginning to grasp some distinctive features of Maoism -- the conception of NDR as opposed to that of bourgeois-democratic revolution; PPW; "base areas" and the way they are established; the principal contradiction (which may change over time) steering the course of the PPW; and, democratic centralism plus the mass line. It is then time to introduce what may indeed be the differentia specifica of Maoism, best done by illustration from Maoist practice in China. We have already alluded to the idea that the road to socialism was already entered upon and struggles to persist on that road were undertaken early on in the new democratic stage of the revolution itself. We said that the big bourgeoisie is suppressed during the NDR itself in order to lay the ground -- create the pre-conditions -- for socialism. Why?
Socialists, more than others, are well aware that there are definite limits to the compatibility of capitalism and democracy, that is, if the latter is understood as government in accordance with the will of the people (Sweezy 1980). But from a capitalist point of view, such democracy is acceptable and considered viable only if the majority continues to believe that the capitalist system is the best for them, or that there is no alternative but to live with it. The moment this belief erodes, democracy becomes a potential danger to capitalism, best illustrated by the case of Chile, where, following the coming into office in 1970 of a party pledged to begin the transition to socialism, the big bourgeoisie collaborated with Washington and the military took over to save capitalism there (Sweezy 1980). To circumvent such a reaction, a new type of democracy ("new democracy") -- a type of democracy that doesn't preclude the transition to socialism if the majority want it -- has to be created, for which, the big bourgeoisie has to be suppressed. In effect, the NDR doesn't do away with capitalism, but it confiscates the property of the imperialists and the big bourgeoisie -- those at the apex of wealth, power and privilege -- and hence stymies the anti-democratic opposition to socialism from their representatives and backers.
But let us elaborate upon the Maoist idea of steps within the new democratic stage, steps in the transition to socialism, and steps within the socialist stage itself, and the thought that the pre-conditions of a subsequent step/stage in the process of progressive change must be created within the step/stage that has to be transited from. The land reform program leading in steps to communes can be used as an apt illustration. It may be best to take William Hinton's books, Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village (1966) and Shenfan: The Continuing Revolution in a Chinese Village (1983), which together provide a rich documentary account of the land reform in Long Bow village of Shanxi province during 1946-48, onward to the formation of mutual aid teams, and from 1953, the merging of those teams into "elementary cooperatives", and from there to advanced cooperatives and further on into communes, and tracing developments up to 1971. They tell a whole lot of facts, even those that contradict what the author is trying to argue; it is difficult to even propose a framework to look at this whole social canvas. However, fortunately, subsequently Hinton has helped provide such an enabling structure (1994; 2002; 2004), though he also revised his assessment of the Cultural Revolution following the publication of Shenfan (Pugh 2005).
Perhaps it would be best to begin where Fanshen concludes (Hinton 1966: 603):
Land reform, by creating basic equality among rural producers, only presented the producers with a choice of roads: private enterprise on the land leading to capitalism, or collective enterprise on the land leading to socialism.
The book, however, does bring some thoughts to mind and I cannot resist expressing one or two. As is well known, Hinton's first story of Long Bow offers a "microcosm" of the upheavals in China that overthrew semi-feudalism in the countryside. On the one hand, it throws light on what a poor peasant has to go through in a bad year and how he/she feels when there is no surplus to pay the rent, interest and amortization, and yet he/she then has to part with the grain that would have kept his/her family from hunger and starvation, and to know that that very landlord and/or moneylender-trader had collaborated with the Japanese during 1937-45. On the other, one can understand why a close bond may develop between the poor peasant and the village-level party person when the former knows that latter considers himself/herself accountable to the poor peasants' league and the village congress.
There is one more important insight that comes from Fanshen -- that when one extracts rent and interest, and what is lost in "unequal exchange" from the net output of the poor peasant household, especially in a bad year, what remains is not even what wage labour would have got, that is, if one were to impute the respective wage rates for family labour. This suggests exploitation of a greater order under semi-feudalism than under backward capitalism, if both are at the same technological level. Marx had also referred to this, albeit, in a different context, when he discussed the plight of the Irish tenant farmer. This leads one to a dispute with those scholars, including Benjamin Schwartz (1951: 4) who hold that the CCP, though successfully having come to power essentially on the strength of its organisation of the peasantry, and not that of the urban proletariat, had inaugurated in China the "decomposition" of Marxism that Lenin began in Russia, and thus, the opposite of the significant innovation that some have attributed to it. Given Marx's remarks on the Irish tenant farmer, I would doubt that he would have agreed with this view.
Let us then get to Shenfan. In 1948 itself, the peasants had begun to form mutual aid teams where a small number of households pooled resources other than land (tools, implements, draft power, occasional labour) but still cultivated the land on an individual basis. Then in 1953 the formation of elementary cooperatives got underway, in which land as well as other resources were pooled, but individual ownership rights were maintained. Incomes were based partly on property ownership and partly on labour time committed to cooperative production in ratios set to garner majority local support. Here dividends had to be paid on the assets, including land, made available, but the complaint of the middle and rich peasants was that this was not as much as they would otherwise have got, that is, if they had cultivated individually by hiring in labour. But when crop yields began to increase because of more intensive use of labour in the cooperative mode, the conflict regarding how to divide the income as between the labour contributed and the assets pooled became sharper (Hinton 1983:142-43). The resolution usually took the form of moving from something like a labour to capital share of 40:60 to 60:40, for, over time, it was living labour that had created the addition to assets. A time would then come when the new assets created by labour overwhelm the original assets pooled at the time of the formation of the cooperative, when it then became appropriate to abolish the capital share of the net output, that is, move to "advanced cooperatives".
The latter entailed a definite socialist advance, involving all peasant households being incorporated in such producer cooperatives, with common ownership of all productive resources. As Hinton (1994: 6-7) puts it:
When the new capital created by living labour surpasses and finally overwhelms the old capital with which the group started out, then rewarding old shareholders with disproportionate payments amounts to exploitation, a transfer of wealth from those who create it by hard labour to those who own the original shares and may, currently, not labour at all.
Of course, with one more step on the collective ladder, the advanced cooperatives were turned into larger units of collective economy and government -- the communes. The point however is that in each step of the ladder leading up to collectivization, the preconditions of the next step were introduced, which helped resolve the old contradictions and smoothed the transition to the next step/stage.
But, it is alleged that the strategy of the Great Leap Forward (GLF) (1958-61), the organisation of the people's communes, and the left deviations of that period led to a massive famine in which up to 30 million people are said to have died.5 Then, there have been the excessive violence and the personal tragedies of the Cultural Revolution (CR). For both, the excesses of the GLF and the CR, Mao and Maoism have been held entirely responsible. Hinton however disagrees. To get to the truth, he explains the context -- that of "protracted political warfare" (Hinton 2004: 51). The NDR was a revolution of a new type, new in that it was meant to create the preconditions for the socialist road, unlike bourgeois-democratic revolutions that open the road to capitalism. Following 1949, however, the resolution of the contradictions with semi-feudalism and imperialism brought the contradiction between capitalism and the Chinese working people to the fore -- the latter became the principal contradiction.
Right from the time of the launch of the NDR, the CCP had been divided into two major factions -- a "proletarian" one, headed by Mao, and a "bourgeois" one, headed by Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping; pre-liberation, the former was based in the liberated areas, while the latter was in the KMT-dominated cities. After liberation in 1949, the two factions "merged as one organisationally, but they never did merge ideologically" (Hinton 2004: 54). This led to a fundamental split over development strategy and policy ever since Mao took China decisively on to the socialist road. It was on the eve of the GLF that Mao declared on 27 February 1957 ("On the Correction Handling of Contradictions among the People"): ". . .the question of which will win out, socialism or capitalism, is still not settled". As Hinton put it: "No policy, from either side, could be applied without contest", which meant extreme friction between the two factions (Ibid: 55). He goes on (Ibid: 56-59):
To blame Mao, then, for the struggle that ensued and for its outcome is unwarranted, unrealistic, and unhistorical. Mao did what needed to be done given his social base [the rural poor and the workers in the alliance he cultivated], while Liu did what he had to given his social base. After a decade of conflict things came to a head in the Cultural Revolution. . . . Mao had the upper hand politically. He was able to speak directly and mobilise hundreds of millions of peasants and workers. But Liu had the upper hand organisationally. . . .
. . . in 1958, . . . severe disruption . . . coupled with very bad weather in 1959, '60, and '61 . . . produce(d) a shortage of crops, hunger, and even starvation. Mao's initiatives failed temporarily but were well conceived. . . .
. . . During the Cultural Revolution similar extremes arose. . . . However, the movement as a whole was a great creative departure in history. It was not a plot, not a purge, but a mass mobilisation whereby people were inspired to intervene, to screen and supervise their cadres and form new popular committees to exercise control at the grassroots and higher.
. . . The principal contradiction of the times was the class struggle between the working class and the capitalist class expressed in the party centre . . . [U]nless it was resolved in the interest of the working class the socialist revolution would founder. . . . [T]he method must be to mobilize the common people to seize power from below in order to establish leading bodies, democratically elected6 organs of power was . . . summed up by the phrase "bombard the headquarters" . . . [T]he target of the Cultural Revolution [was] "party people in authority taking the capitalist road".
Basically, in order to resolve the contradiction between the "proletarian line" and the "bourgeois line" within the party in favour of the former, the Maoists, in the CR, tried to plant the seeds of a later stage of socialism in the earlier stage itself, thus doing away with a mechanical separation of the two stages and concentrating instead on their interrelations (Magdoff 1975: 53). The two stages of socialism, supposed to follow chronologically, are the phase where distribution of the social product is according to the principle "from each according to her/his abilities, to each according to her/his work" followed by the phase where distribution is according to the norm "from each according to her/his abilities, to each according to her/his needs". Magdoff (1975: 53-54) explains that Maoists focus on the interrelations between the two and therefore emphasise the need to create the preconditions for the transition within the earlier phase itself, the main prerequisites being the way the social product is distributed and a change in human relations. If one doesn't do this, the inequalities produced and reproduced by the current stage will lead to the emergence and consolidation of a new privileged elite that will gradually transform itself into a new ruling class. And, they derive their justification of this with reference to Marx's Critique of the Gotha Programme, with its forceful description of the necessary persistence of inequality in a socialist (but not communist) society. One can thus understand why the major concerns during the CR were "measures that tend[ed] to reduce differences arising from the division of labour between city and country, manual and mental labour, and management and employees", knowing very well that their attainment was "in the far distant future and will involve many political struggles in the years ahead" (Ibid: 54).
It is then clear that Maoists reject Stalin's mechanical interpretation of Marx's 1859 Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy as a deterministic theory of history. Mao accused Stalin of emphasising only the forces of production (the means of production and human capability) to the neglect of the relations of production (relations at work, and ownership relations that bestow control over the forces of production and the product), and the superstructure (institutions such as the state, the family, religion, education, and the law, and culture and ideology). Even among the productive forces, Stalin -- Mao alleges -- in a relative sense neglected the growth of human capability, which should have constituted the core of the forces of production. Again, Stalin essentially viewed the direction of causation as a one-way route from change in the forces of production to alteration in the relations of production, and thereon to revamp of the superstructure (Mao 1977).
Mao instead argued that elements of the superstructure are transformed only with a considerable lag; the old culture hangs on long after the material base of the economy is radically altered. But, if a conscious effort is made to change the elements of the superstructure, this, in turn, affects the economic base (the productive forces and the relations of production). Hence, Mao was bent on ushering in the people's communes even before the modernisation of agriculture, for, in his view, changing the relations of production and elements of the superstructure would, in turn, spur the productive forces. Hence, also the stress upon the stifling economic effects of the prevailing class structure of the factories during the CR, or of the domination of landlords and "comprador-bureaucrat" capitalists in the pre-liberation period, or on the liberating effects of smashing the superstructure (for example, Confucian culture) (Howe and Walker 1977: pp 176-77; Gurley 1976: chapter 2). How apparently open-ended the interrelations among and between the forces of production, the relations of production, and the superstructure are in Mao's conception of Marx's theory of history!
Marrying the Various Strands
We have seen in this essay that, at its best, Marxism leads one to expect a close interrelationship between theory and practice; where either is scarce the other will be acutely disadvantaged. Maoism, by and large, has privileged practice over theory -- it views practice as the foundation of theory. But what does the Maoist dictum "seek truth from practice mean"? At its best, and if one reads Mao's July 1937 definitive On Practice: On the Relation between Knowledge and Practice, Between Knowing and Doing, he takes on both, the dogmatists and the empiricists, the "right opportunists" and the "leftists". As he puts it: "Practice ['class struggle, political life, scientific and artistic pursuits'], knowledge, again practice, and again knowledge. This form repeats itself in endless cycles, and with each cycle the content of practice and knowledge rises to a higher level". And, in his outstanding August 1937 essay On Contradiction he holds that contradictions -- the struggle between functionally united opposites -- cause continual change. Development stems from the resolution of contradictions and strategy involves choice of the form of struggle most suited to resolve a contradiction. But the desired qualitative alteration can be brought only through a series of stages, where the existing stage is impregnated with the hybrid seeds of the subsequent one, thereby dissolving the salient contradictions of the former and ushering in the latter. Mao's Marxism was of the Leninist school, albeit tending closer to its Stalinist version (which, as we have seen, is a decomposed version of Leninism), but struggling to overcome and go beyond Stalinism.
We have traversed a wide canvas with some wild strokes, covering the ground from Marxism to Leninism, and from there to its Stalinist revision, and then to Maoism in terms of its evolution and development in China from the late 1920s to the late 1960s, focussing on its differentiae specifica. The latter, we have found, are:
•the poor peasantry of the interior of a backward capitalist/semi-feudal society rather than the urban proletariat constitute the mass support base of the movement;
•theory of revolution by stages as well as uninterrupted revolution, implying a close link between successive stages;
•the stage of NDR, which makes capitalism much more compatible with democracy, thereby aiding the transition to socialism;
•the path and strategy of PPW, which relies on the peasants, builds rural base areas, carries out "land to the tiller" and other social policies in these areas (run democratically as miniature, self-reliant states) thereby building up a political mass base in the countryside to finally encircle and capture the cities;
•the conception of "base areas" and the way to establishing them;
•"capturing" (winning mass support in) the cities by demonstrating a brand of nationalism that is genuinely anti-imperialist, thereby re-orienting an existing mass nationalist upsurge (as during the anti-Japanese resistance, 1937-45 in China) in favour of the completion of the NDR;
•democratic centralism plus the "mass line", ensuring that "democracy" doesn't take a backseat to "centralism" and making sure the people are involved in policy making and its implementation;
•the central idea that contradictions -- the struggle between functionally united opposites -- at each stage drive the process of development on the way to socialism, which is sought to be brought about in a series of stages, where the existing stage, at the right time, is impregnated with the hybrid seeds of the subsequent one, thereby dissolving the salient contradictions of the former and ushering in the latter;
•open-ended interrelations among and between the forces of production, the relations of production, and the superstructure; and
•the idea that political, managerial, and bureaucratic power-holders entrench themselves as a ruling elite and, over a period of time, assume the position of a new exploiting class, and that the people have to be constantly mobilised to struggle against this tendency.
"Materialist dialectics" as a way of thinking and a guide to doing was a powerful tool in Mao's hands, but its weaknesses were perhaps inherent in its very strengths; in the end, the very method led him to hugely overestimate the pace of change and vastly underestimate the obstacles to change. Marx too fell into the same trap when his very method of analysis led him to believe that revolution was around the corner, immensely underrating the huge barriers to progressive change. Does the very application of the method of materialist dialectics lead its practitioners to err on the side of "voluntarism" in their practice?
If one looks forward from the vantage point of 1969 -- the year marks the beginning of the end of the Maoist era -- the great reversal from "socialism" to capitalism (Sharma, ed. 2007) lay ahead. But 1969 also affords a good look back in time. It might help to begin from an incident from Mao's childhood when he was in school, which he related to the American journalist Edgar Snow (1972). One day he and his fellow students were witness to the decapitated heads of rebels strung to the city's gates as a warning. The insurrectionists had led starving peasants in an uprising to find food. The savage repression of the rebellion was obvious, and the incident left a profound impression on the boy and he never forgot it, deeply resenting the treatment meted out to the rebels. Clearly, from a very young age Mao came to view the prevailing social order as quite simply intolerable and to expect a revolutionary high tide sooner or later. "A single spark can start a prairie fire", he told his close comrades in January 1930; twenty years later, he is said to have declared: "The Chinese people have stood up!" There is a touching story of Mao's triumphant entry into Beijing which is worth recounting:7
There were a million Chinese present to welcome him. A large platform, fifteen feet high, had been built at the end of a vast square, and as he mounted the steps from the back, the top of his head appeared and a roar of welcome surged up from a million throats, increasing and increasing as the lone figure came fully into view. And when Mao . . . saw the vast multitude, he stood for a moment, then suddenly covered his face with both hands and wept.
But in the years after 1949, even in the mid-1960s, as we have seen, the question of whether it will be capitalism or socialism in China was still unsettled. At the age of 72, the guerrilla in Mao stirred again -- better to burn out than to hit the skids. As Jerome Ch'en (1968: 5), quoting Mao the poet put it:
The Chinese revolution was at a cross-road. It could "look down the precipices" and beat a retreat or "reach the ninth heaven high. . ." and then "return to merriment and triumphant songs." The choice, according to the poet, depended entirely upon one's "will to ascend."
Four years later, all that remained were the embers -- the time had come to just fade away. Not much later, his closest comrades, Zhou Enlai and Zhu De passed away. The Bard of Avon's idea that "all the world's a stage" has acquired the status of a cliché, but it must surely have been one of the great pleasures of Mao's life to have been on the same stage with the two of them. The time was now up for one of the greatest Marxist revolutionaries of all time to ascend to the stars to join them: Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, the 20 million soldiers of the Red Army who had died in the war against fascism, the many ordinary peasant-guerrillas of the PLA who sacrificed their lives in the long march to a better world.
Maoism, however, needs to be taken to task; one cannot but ask: Why the peasants and workers didn't resist the great reversals to capitalism in China and the Soviet Union -- the counter-revolutions? Were these regimes, as long as Mao and Stalin were around, really socialist, as has constantly been the claim of latter-day Maoists? The truth could only be highly disappointing, that is, if one were to judge Maoism, as is only fair, by the fruits of its project of taking humanity along the road towards equality, cooperation, community, and solidarity. In China itself, Maoism didn't succeed on this score -- all the united actions of the workers and the poor peasants, all the mass education of the Maoist period, didn't seem to have brought about their intellectual development to a point where they could take on the "capitalist roaders" after 1978 to uphold the ideas of equality and cooperation as against hierarchy and competition. Maoism failed to provide a successful working model of socialism in the 20th century. What's worse, even as Mao was in his last years, People's China entered into an accommodation with US imperialism against the Soviet Union -- Mao's On Contradiction was misapplied to justify the arrangement. In a blatant violation of an important Maoist tenet, nationalism got the better of anti-imperialism when in 1974 Deng Xiaoping used so-called "three worlds' theory" to rationalise the "right-wing" turn in China's foreign policy.
But despite all these shortcomings, there can be little doubt that over the longer period, from the late 1920s to the late 1960s, Maoism did something unprecedented in human history -- it brought about a drastic redistribution of income and wealth in China; it radically reordered the way Chinese society's economic surplus was generated and utilised, all for the better.
Mao's Legacy and the Future of Maoism
It's time then to talk of Mao's legacy. As we have seen, Maoism has a definite view about how to get to socialism, and about what needs to be done to meet the basic needs of everyone in a poor country. Development is to be on an egalitarian basis -- we are all in it together and everyone rises together. What then of Mao's legacy, Maoism? Surely, this is open to all who share his Weltanschauung, his method of analysis -- materialist dialectics -- his values, his vision, and choose to embark together on the long march to socialism, knowing beforehand that the journey is fraught with considerable peril. What then of Maoism in India (Ram 1971; Banerjee 1980; Mohanty 1977; Gupta 1993; 2006; Azad 2006), one might ask? Maoist China did its best to feed, clothe and house everyone, keep them healthy, educate most of them. Contrast this with the deplorable conditions in India at the end of the 1960s and even today -- the tragedy of India ruled by her own big bourgeoisie -- and one gets wind as to why there are some in India who look to the Maoist model of development as the way to a richer and fuller life for all. Anu -- whom we started this article with -- was one of them.
However, while one may have deep respect for such people, one needs to ask the question: Are the basic path and strategy of revolution that were necessary in China in the 1930s and 1940s right for India in the 21st century? Well, India differs very significantly from the China of those times, more so in its history, geography, class and social structure, traditions, and in the nature of its "semi-feudalism"/backward capitalism, the accommodation of the big bourgeoisie with imperialism,8 the strength of the repressive apparatus of the state, the nationalities question, and so on. And, importantly, while Chinese history is replete with periodic widespread peasant uprisings, Indian history, in a comparative sense, is scarce of such rebellions, which perhaps can be explained in terms of caste (Moore 1966: chapters 4, 6, and 9) -- it is fundamentally antithetical to any meaningful unity of the exploited and the oppressed.9 Recall that Mao adapted his Marxism-Leninism to the realities of China's history, China's potentialities; "learn truth from practice" was his message. Surely a party like the CPI (Maoist) that stems from a political tendency that, over the last 40 years, has done its best to take the Indian revolution forward might like to take a hard re-look into the abyss that is India -- its history, its potentialities.
The Maoists must keep in mind that the scientific validity of the Maoism they uphold will be judged in the first instance in India by its contributions to correctly explaining Indian social reality. There is a lot they have had a hand in this respect, for instance, in emphasising the parasitical reliance of Indian capital on the state for its self-expansion, expressed in the notion of bureaucrat capital. Or, in stressing the powerful role of the state in the very making of the Indian big bourgeoisie (of course, the "state's" fostering of the ruling classes more than the other way round, going back to ancient times, is an insight from the eminent historian D D Kosambi). The Maoists have also helped us to see the post-1956 official "land reforms" as having led to the partial amalgamation of the old rural landowning classes into a new, broader stratum of rich landowners, those not setting their hands to the plough, including an upper section of the former tenants, all of whom, despite the various markets, have yet to rid themselves of various "semi-feudal" practices and pre-capitalist elements of culture. Also, it is the Maoists who, in their practice, correctly do not even try to differentiate the rural poor into "agrarian proletariat" or "landless peasantry", knowing very well that the same very poor household can be categorized in one or the other at various points in time. And, in organising the "agrarian proletariat"/"landless peasantry" along with the poor and middle peasants, and a section of the rich peasants, they insist on factoring in the caste question, despite their knowing how highly problematic and painfully difficult such a getting together can be. Also, it is the Maoists more than others who first grasped the brutal character of the dominant classes and the leaders of the political parties they have co-opted, the very same categories whose forebears had taken power in the name of Gandhian non-violence. All this is knowledge essentially derived from their practice.
The CPI (Maoist) has come in for a lot of condemnation for its violent activities, including killings. The violence however has to be viewed in the context of the undeclared civil war that is underway in the areas of its influence, for instance, in Dantewada in the state of Chhattisgarh (PUDR 2006). The government is implementing a barbaric counter-insurgency policy, which includes the fostering of a network of informers and combatants among the civilian population, right from the village level upwards: a state-supported, state-sponsored, and even state-organised so-called people's resistance -- called Salwa Judum (SJ) -- against the Maoists. Entire villages have been evacuated and the villagers forcibly dumped into relief camps, and this, in the circumstances of large-scale acquisition of land by private corporations in what is a mineral-rich region. The last four years have witnessed violent attacks, loot, destruction, intimidation, rape and killing on an unprecedented scale principally by the SJ; indeed, the latter has even forcibly mobilised the displaced into its ranks. Undoubtedly, the killing is by both sides, but the big difference is that the Maoists, generally when they target specific state representatives, or even informers, they first warn them to desist from the anti-people activity they are undertaking. Those guilty of rape, torture, deaths in custody, or responsible for "encounter" killings are singled out so that others may, out of fear of such reprisals, desist from acting thus. As far as the SJ representatives are concerned, any person who joins them is targeted, not because of any personal enmity, but because of the role that the SJ has been playing in the undeclared civil war.
More generally, the violence also has to be seen in the context of the close de facto nexus between economic and political power at the local and regional levels; the dominant classes, through various means, exercise a degree of control over the police and the judiciary, which increases the chances of violent confrontation between the contending classes.10
Those who deliberately, falsely depict the Maoists as "devotees of violence" choose to suppress the fact that the violence of the oppressed (and the Maoists who now lead them) has been always preceded and provoked by the violence of the oppressors (and the state and private forces that back them). To claim, as some liberals do, that the violence of the oppressed is "morally equivalent" to that of the oppressors is to endorse the reactionary state, which backs the oppressors. And, in this age of the management of public opinion, the "programming" of what the public thinks, sees and reads, the "facts" that are disseminated are artificially separated from a whole host of other relevant facts, never allowing the public to discern the "real" present.
But, while acknowledging that antagonistic contradictions between hostile class-based organisations will lead to violence, it is a Maoist tenet that guerrilla actions ought to be subordinated to "mass-line" politics -- the Maoist guerrillas should give precedence to winning over the mass of the people in their base areas and, in consequence, in the surrounding areas -- and work towards a better balance ("proportionality") than ever before between means and ends. Regarding the resort to violence in the revolution, to the extent that I have absorbed their writings, it would be fair to say that Marx and Engels might not have disagreed with the use of violent methods by the revolutionary forces in India today. The dominant classes could never be expected to give up their control without employing all the repressive power at their command. It is useful perhaps to recall that Marx's response to the "crimes and cruelties alleged" against the "insurgent Hindus" of 1857 was to set out an account of the daily violence "in cold blood" of British rule in India (Marx 1857).
As to the false claim that the Maoists have no mass support in their areas of influence, one has only to listen to perceptive yet sensitive, independent observers who know the situation on the ground. The state forces are much stronger (as far as armaments and numbers go) than the Maoist guerrillas, and yet the tribal peasants support the latter. Why do these peasants take the risk of supporting the underdogs, even when they know that, when the guerrillas are vanquished, they, as their supporters, will be at the mercy of the state forces, and will most probably perish? If, at the risk of death itself, the peasants choose the guerrillas, surely there must be something more significant going on over here.
Besides India, Maoism is a political force to reckon with in Nepal (Bhattarai 2005; 2009; Mage 2005 and 2007; Parvati 2005; Mage and D'Mello 2007; AMR 2008), the Philippines (Sison 1989; 2003), and Peru (Spalding 1992, 1993; Leupp 1993). The Nepali Maoist leaders have been imaginative -- their ideas of some combination of the "Chinese" (triumph in the countryside and spread to the cities) and the "Russian" (victory in the cities and spread to the countryside) models of revolution, and of "21st century democracy" (multi-party competition as long as all agree on the goals of "new democracy") are appealing. The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), given its relative strength vis-a-vis "the enemies" of democracy and their friends and masters outside the borders of that small country (above all in India), seeks to utilize the bourgeois republic as a stage in mustering the force of the impoverished masses and nationalist intermediate strata to proceed towards NDR (Bhattarai and WPRM-Britain 2009). But these theories are being put to a severe test in practice.
What then of the future of Maoism and the renewal of socialism that it promises? Frankly, "whatever chance there may have been that the revolutions of the 20th century could or would provide successful working models of socialism" has long since been extinguished; "socialism, we are told, has been tried and failed" (Sweezy 1993: 5). But, as Marx was the first to show, the obstacles to a better future cannot be meaningfully addressed within the framework of capitalism. The challenge then is to revive and renew the legacy of socialism. In this, can Maoism illuminate the way?
Maoism has its roots in Marx who was, above all, a radical democrat -- he demanded the reincarnation of community and mass solidarity; he dreamed of the communion of human beings with nature; he stressed the dialectic of liberation; he looked forward to a just society alongside "rich individuality"; and, as Paresh Chattopadhyay (2005) reminds us, he insisted on the removal of commodity exchange, the division of labour, the state. . . . But, then, Lenin too, in his State and Revolution appeared as a thoroughgoing democrat, though he introduced into his conception of socialism elements that are antithetical to the "association of free individuals" -- wage labour and state (Ibid).
Mao and the Chinese Maoists too gave the impression of being revolutionary democrats, that is, if one were to go by the 20 million people marching through the streets of various Chinese cities in the last week of May 1968, the demonstrators mainly chanting the slogan: "long live the revolutionary heritage of the great Paris Commune". Indeed, Marx's interpretation of the Commune was then deemed relevant to the revival of the revolution in China, something that found a place in the famous "Sixteen Points" of 8 August 1966 (Meisner 1971; Robinson 1969: 84-96). "Let a hundred flowers blossom, let a hundred schools of thought contend" was not merely intended policy for the promotion of progress in the arts and sciences, but one of ushering in a flourishing socialist culture -- at least that was the claim.
Thus, given the radical democratic streak running from Marx to Mao, the best thing that Maoism could do is to commit to the promise of radical democracy: just as there cannot be liberty in any meaningful sense without equality, for the rich will certainly be more "free" (have more options) than the poor, so there cannot be equality without liberty, for then some may have more political power than others.
So far, all revolutions inspired by Marx have only enjoyed the support or participation of a significant minority. Can the commitment to radical democracy up the tide to get the help of the majority? Will the means then be carefully chosen so that they never come to overwhelm the socialist aspiration?
1 Paresh Chattopadhyay, in personal correspondence, draws my attention to the view that Marx spoke of a "political transition period" (not of constituting a distinct "society") from capitalism to communism under the rule of the proletariat; socialism and communism, for him, were simply the alternative names for the same classless society he looked forward to, after capitalism.
2 We think it necessary to be more comprehensive on Maoism because even one of the best dictionaries of Marxist thought (Bottomore 2000), even in its second edition, didn't have an entry on Maoism, although it, rightly and deservedly, had one on Trotskyism.
3 But even as I make such general remarks, I need to qualify them by stating that within the "China studies" field there have been and are a set of first-rate scholars, some of whom we have learnt a great deal from -- Benjamin Schwartz, Stuart Schram, Maurice Meisner, Mark Selden, Carl Riskin, Manoranjan Mohanty, G P Deshpande, Chris Bramall come to mind. However, as will soon be evident, herein I mainly rely on writers of the Monthly Review School -- John Gurley, William Hinton, Harry Magdoff, and others.
4 To his credit, it was Benjamin Schwartz (1951) who first highlighted the shift in the CCP's strategy (in response to what the party saw as a change in the "principal contradiction") during the course of the anti-Japanese resistance.
5 The figures have been disputed though, among others, by Utsa Patnaik (2004: 10-12) and Joseph Ball (2006).
6 I may be naïve, but given that Mao is said to have had overwhelmingly the people's and the PLA's support but the Liu-Deng faction had the upper hand organizationally within the party, Mao could have split the party and gone for a referendum to decide China's future course -- capitalism or socialism -- and there would have been little doubt what the result of the plebiscite would have been, the outcome of which would have totally legitimized the socialist road. Why didn't he do this?
7 This episode was related by Chou En-lai [Zhou Enlai] to Charlie Chaplin in Geneva during the Korean crisis when the former had come to negotiate an end to the Korean War and the latter had made possible a showing of City Lights to the visiting dignitary (Chaplin 1966: 526, 530).
8 The country has recently witnessed the largest ever Indo-US military exercise on Indian soil.
9 Also, religion, ethnicity and nationality have been divisive cards played by the main political parties and their forebears to divide the toiling masses at the local level in the Indian sub-continent. The utter criminality of communalist-religious mobilizations and the pogroms unleashed against the main religious minority in India have been the most tragic outcomes of this brand of semi-fascist politics in the recent past.
10 In 1994, I happened to go to the courts in Midnapore town (in Paschim Midnapore district of the Indian state of West Bengal) for some legal matter. During the long lunch break I was resting in an empty courtroom when two desperately poor tribal men, who seemed to be in a bad condition as a result of torture, were brought by the police into this "court" -- as I pretended to sleep, the court clerk, masquerading as the judicial authority (the real guy was probably enjoying his extended siesta at home) passed a summary order in a minute, remanding the accused to further police custody. I mention this because Lalgarh, in the Jhargram sub-division of the district, and the contiguous Jangalmahal area, is presently one of the epicenters of Maoist revolt, and, if one wants to get to the roots of this local eruption since November last year, the criminal justice system's deliberate, callous, and continuing discrimination against the poor, the tribal poor in particular, is not unimportant. It is interesting that at the time of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 Marx, referring to "some of the antecedents which prepared the way for the violent outbreak", quoting from the report of the "Torture Commission at Madras" highlights "the difficulty of obtaining redress which confronts the injured parties". Marx concludes (1857):
In view of such facts, dispassionate and thoughtful men may perhaps be led to ask whether a people are not justified in attempting to expel the foreign conquerors who have so abused their subjects. And if the English could do these things in cold blood, is it surprising that the insurgent Hindoos should be guilty, in the fury of revolt and conflict, of crimes and cruelties alleged against them?
What is tragic is that, in a province of independent India governed by the "social-democratic" Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front government without a break since 1978, there are elements of an essential continuity (with respect to British India in 1857) in the manner in which the criminal justice system functions.
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Bernard D'Mello is deputy editor, Economic & Political Weekly, and is a member of the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights, Mumbai. This essay is dedicated to the memory of my first editor, the late Samar Sen (Shômor babu, as we called him), founder-editor of the Kolkata-based weekly, Frontier. It is also in appreciation of Subhas Aikat whose Kharagpur-based, hand-to-mouth existing Cornerstone Publications brings out an Indian edition of the Monthly Review and books that pose the kind of questions generally shunned by academia. The essay is my small thanksgiving to all you MR people, past and present, on the occasion of your 60th anniversary. I thank Paresh Chattopadhyay, N Krishnaji, John Mage, C Rammanohar Reddy, and P A Sebastian for their critical but helpful comments on an earlier draft; the usual disclaimers apply