by Kumar Sarkar
IT HAS TAKEN 87 years for the communist movement in India to recognise that the Indian society has its own specific qualities that need serious attention, if we are to construct a suitable strategy for the Indian Revolution.
When we look at the Indian society today, we note four basic problems: problems relating to class, caste, ethnicity and gender. Of these, the last three have special relationships with feudalism. And establishing the relationships of these three with the former, the class, either separately or in some combination, constitutes the central programmatic task.
The Communist Party of India (CPI) was established in 1920. But it was not until about 15-20 years ago that the communist movement addressed any problems strategically other than the class. The young communist movement adopted the European model of feudalism and its transition to capitalism. The situation was made worse by considering the Indian Revolution either in terms of the Soviet or the Chinese model, mostly the former. In 1951, in a major bi-lateral discussion with four central leaders of the CPI, in Moscow, Stalin said, "Your people copy our revolution. But these are different stages. The experience of the other fraternal parties needs to be critically taken into account and this adapted to the specific conditions of India."
Marx wrote about the "Asiatic Mode of Production", which is regarded by many Indian Marxists as similar to, but not exactly the same as, the Indian pre-capitalist mode of production. Marx also made other references to the specific qualities of Indian society, but it was the European model that was followed all along.
A few weeks ago the Communist Party of India (Maoists) had their congress, in which they agreed: "The Congress unanimously resolved that in India the feudal/semi-feudal society has its own specific qualities, in as much as it is deeply interwoven with brahminical ideology and the oppressive and discriminatory caste system."
The phrase or the concept of"brahminical ideology" has thus appeared for the first time in an official communist programme in India. The brahminical ideology is essentially the ideology of Hinduism, based on the caste system. It has two principal cornerstones: (a) treating caste-based social hierarchy of inequality and discriminations as natural, (b) their acceptance without opposition and protests. These are achieved by the philosophical stance of fatalism and philosophical theory of "Karmafal" or results of deeds done in previous life.
How these four aspects of class, caste, ethnicity and gender influence the programmatic tasks of the Indian Revolution is at the heart of the divisions in the communist movement in India today.
• The old sections of the movement represented by the CPI and the CPI
(Marxist) still fail to recognise the strategic character of caste, ethnicity and gender. They still view these as tactical matters, as "issues", important but not of strategic significance. In fact, it is only after the dalits or the so-called untouchables and women, particularly the dalits, taking up serious fights during the last two decades against the oppressive system of Hindu apartheid in some parts of India, that these so-called issues have started to enter the CPI (Marxist) programme in some form or the other.
• The Maoists, however, have chosen tribal peasants as their starting
point. The tribals mostly live in jungles, are landless peasants, and worst victims of social discrimination, being treated as outcastes. The Maoists also support the demands of autonomy of different ethnic nationalities, mostly living in India’s eastern hill regions. There is a geographic pattern in India’s ethnic diversity.
This is, of course, only the beginning of a new strategy. India is a vast country with considerable industrial development and a large and growing working class living in numerous towns and cities and with very uneven industrial developments. Hence, the capture of power has to be multi-centred, but with a central strategy and with two main components:
rural and urban.
• The rural component primarily consists of forcible occupation of
lands by landless peasants and moving towards establishing alternative or parallel power locally and regionally, with the aim of creating "base areas". Such actions can start whenever and wherever possible. Based in the peasantry, the power must be politically oriented with "worker-peasant alliance".
The rural component has to take into consideration the role of the brahminical ideology.
• The urban component consists of establishing mass organisations of
industrial working class and non-manual workers, known in India as the lower middle classes, with a political orientation of "worker-peasant-lower middle class alliance". The objective of urban struggles is to prepare for eventual and final insurrections, when the urban areas have been surrounded by armed peasantry.
There is no strategy yet that deals with the both of these components adequately.
The Indian Revolution, as it can be appreciated, is at the stage of the democratic revolution. The Indian democratic revolution itself has had its own specific qualities. In my personal opinion, it was started by the rising Hindu bourgeoisie in Bengal, which soon became defeated by the Hindu revivalists there. One writer, Suranjan Das, has summed it up succinctly: "A particular paradox in the history of freedom struggle against the British Raj in the subcontinent lies in the fact that the maturing of mainstream Indian nationalism was almost synonymous with the strengthening of communalism in Indian politics, which in the long-run contributed to the partition of India along religious lines".
The Hindu revivalism has ended up in Hindu fascism as a major enemy, though it may not be the principal enemy. This is an outline of the problems of the strategy of the Indian Revolution.