Saturday, July 09, 2016

Marxism’s Indian perspective



  Review

By Robert Laurie
Indian communists and Chinese diplomats pay tribute to A B Bardhan


{REVOLUTIONARY DEMOCRACY}: Vol. XXII, No. 1 April, 2016. £5.00 + £1.00 p & p from NCP Lit: PO Box 73, London SW11 2PQ

THE APRIL edition of Revolutionary Democracy has just arrived from New Delhi. As always its 224 pages contain a wide range of interesting, if at times controversial, matter.
 As is to be expected there is a great deal on contemporary Indian politics and society including an interesting article on the widespread continuing discrimination in education against members of the Dalit caste, who were called by the British. This is followed by pieces on the serious economic problems facing India and others on the he use of the Army and colonial-era laws to suppress dissent. On a more encouraging note there is an account of cement workers in the state of Chhattisgarh gaining a substantial wage rise and improved conditions, but only after a twenty-five year struggle.
 Revolutionary Democracy generally takes a dim view of the Communist Party of India but it contains a generous tribute to AB Bardhan, general secretary of the CPI between 1996 and 2012 who died this January aged 90.
 The journal is closely associated with the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organisations. This issue includes a wide ranging survey of the state of the world from this organisation, which is strongly influenced by the theories of Enver Hoxha. It also carries its views on the current situation in Venezuela which blame the December electoral defeat on the “Reformist” policies” of the governments of Chavez and Maduros.   
  A short but useful article outlines the complex history of left-wing parties in Bangladesh from the formation of the Communist Party of East Pakistan in 1956 to date. This is a story of the party forming what appear to be strange alliances with bourgeois parties and many violent splits, including the Sino-Soviet split. The author makes the depressing conclusion that “the left as a political forces has long been ineffective in Bangladesh”.
   Another historical piece, partly based on the author’s own memories as a student, is on the events of March 1956 in the capital of the Georgian SSR. The 3rd anniversary of Stalin’s death took place shortly after Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech” attacking the work of Stalin. In Tbilisi thousands gathered to pay tribute to the departed general secretary, but later protests against Khrushchev’s smears were crushed by the army, resulting in an uncertain number of deaths, but numbering at least 150.
  The most substantial piece is a translation of a 1932 Soviet booklet on Trotsky’s views on imperialism in which Trotsky is roundly criticised for his theory, derived from the right-wing German Social democrat Karl Kautsky, that with the lowering of the flag of the imperialist power does not mean the end of a colonial relationship between the imperialist power and the oppressed country. Eighty-four years on these points are still valid. Another theoretical piece deals with the wide influence the various editions of the standard Soviet Textbook on Political Economy had in the USSR and India.
            As in previous issues there are materials from the Soviet archives on relations between the CPSU and the Communist Party of India. The present issue prints informative documents summarising the differing views of various groups within the CPI in the late 1940s drawn up prior to talks held in 1951.
 The issue concludes with an interesting discussion of the work of the progressive artist Chittaprosad Bhattacharya (1915-78), the article is illustrated with many small examples of his work, fewer but larger images would have done better justice to his work.
            It would be helpful if the editors provided a little more background and some explanation of some of the specifically Indian terminology for readers beyond the sub-continent, but these are minor criticisms, which should not deter purchasers.

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