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CPI(M) shelves class struggle in action: Sankar Ray

April 4, 2012

Guest post by SANKAR RAY

[As the CPIM)'s 20th Congress began in Kozhikhode today, we bring two pieces marking the occasion. AN]

Unbelievable though it may seem even to the staunchest critic of CPI(M), ‘class struggle’ is totally missing in the 20950-plus word Draft Political Resolution (DPR) of the CPI(M), circulated and debated inside the party for over two months, that will be finalized with amendments, deletions and additions, at the 20th party Congress at Kozhikode between 4 and 9 April. The finalized political resolution is to be party’s tactical line until the 21st Congress four years later. The omission of ‘class struggle’ in the DPR, a basic document for committed struggle is stupefying as communists the world over frequently quote Marx that the history of mankind is “the history of class struggles”.

It’s not new as class struggle was omitted in the Political Resolution adopted at the 19th Congress ( Coimbatore, 29 March- 3 April 2008). But unlike at Coimbatore, the latest draft document talks of ‘people’s democracy’, CPI(M)’s main ideology, enshrined in the Updated Party Programme ( adopted at a special party conference in October 2000 at Thiruvananthapuram). But the pledge for moving forward to “a new, alternative path – towards people’s democracy and socialism” is vague.

The Political Resolution is the rule book for the party in the politics and economics of the party between two congresses. So the PR – the result of addition, deletion and amendment of the DPR – will set out the bounds within which a Stalinist party like CPI(M) (structurally CPI too is Stalinist) has to function in the next years. So class struggle has no place in India’s largest Leftist party.

However, another document, awaiting finalization at Kozhikode , ‘Draft Resolution on Some Ideological Issues’, running to over 14,000 words plus another 12,800 word explanatory note, scripts class struggle about ten times and vows – in theory although not in practice – to move forward to ‘people’s democracy’ or ‘people’s democratic revolution’. It calls for mobilisation of “all the exploited sections of the Indian people in order to change the current correlation of class forces amongst our people and mount the revolutionary offensive for the establishment of people’s democracy and, on its foundations, socialism – the only basis for human liberation and emancipation”

In other words, class struggle is in the perspective, but not on the agenda.

But short-term revolutionism and frequent shift in position is in the CPI(M)’s DNA . Mandarins of A K Gopalan Bhavan and the party’s central committee, the highest policy-making body, realise bitterly the essence of Marx’s famous caution against ‘parliamentary cretinism’ in one of his classic works, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852). The ideological resolution admits that parliamentary democracy “creates many illusions amongst the people that seek to mute or weaken class and mass struggles, particularly through State patronage. While combating such illusions and exposing effectively the machinations of the ruling classes in using such illusions to make people submissive to their class rule, it is imperative that we adopt the correct tactics to rouse the exploited masses into revolutionary action.” The growth of parliamentary illusions among party legislators in states and the centre and their associates around is recognized by the top brass. AKG Bhavan lays stress on ridding the party of “illusions of a peaceful transition”. It’s an indirect mandate to rank and file for preparedness towards, in case of exigencies, for non-peaceful way for achieving people’s democracy. And for this, CPI(M) Central Committee thinks , “rectification campaigns” are a precondition. There should be no let up in “continuous struggle against parliamentary opportunism. The effective combination of parliamentary with extra-parliamentary work requires the guarding against parliamentarism and fostering of parliamentary illusions.”, the document asserts.

But biggies of CPI(M) – from the general secretary Prakash Karat and editor of central organ, People’s Democracy, Sitaram Yechury to S Ramachandra Pillai and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee – all polit bureau members – like their predecessors such as E M S Namboodiripad, B T Ranadive and M Basavapunnaih seem to be blissfully unaware of Frederick Engels’ contempt for the word –ideology. Marx’s most-trusted comrade wrote to Franz Mehring in the 1890s – “Ideology is a process accomplished by the so-called thinker consciously, indeed, but with a false consciousness. The real motives impelling him remain unknown to him,
otherwise it would not be an ideological process at all. Hence he imagines false or apparent motives”. In all ideology, in German Ideology, Marx and Engels stated unequivocally, “The human beings and their relations appear to stand on their head, as in a camera obscura” An ideologue resembles a honcho who fosters reality with suitable political terminology to keep the party hierarchical order intact.

But there is a formidable blockage for any official CP – CPI and variants of Naxalism or Maoism in embarking on de-ideologisation. Even Lenin wasn’t aware of Engels’ chagrin for ideology and wrote an article captioned ‘ The Ideological Struggle in the Working-Class Movement” in 1914.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Charvak permalink
    April 4, 2012 10:32 PM

    sankar ray’s case is one of shedding fake crocodile tears for the CPI(M). IF he is so concerned about class struggle, he wouldn’t have hung himself to the apron strings of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress so blatantly and shamelessly in the run up to the elections in Bengal. In an article in sanhati by Sumanta banerjee, Ray showed no pretense of ideology in his support for Mamata Banerjee. It should behove him to first introspect on his own views before doing a Ctrl F in the CPI(M)’s DPR and IDR to suggest that the CPI(M) doesnt believe in class struggle. It is a very poor reading of what the CPI(M) is trying to say. It is clear that he hasn’t even bothered to read them. It is in character of these Mamata loving discredited “intellectuals”.

    • April 5, 2012 4:01 PM

      I shall be happy if Charvak can show me that the word ‘class struggle’ appears even for once in the CPI(M)’s political resolution at the 19th Congress and in the Draft PS for 21st. Reference to Mamata Banerjee and Trinamool Congress is irrelevant. Moreover, anyone has the right to subscribe to any party, although I do not belong to any political party.

      • Raghu permalink
        April 5, 2012 7:41 PM

        If you do not belong to any political party, there is no need for you to worry about CPI(M). There are more than enough leader in CPI(M) to take care of their affairs. Not ony CPI(M) but every other party in India is now into Caste-struggle and not class-struggle. The “commies” are also made of the same “genetic-stock”.

  2. April 5, 2012 6:27 AM

    The history of human kind is made up of struggles between the powerful and the rich on one hand and powerless and poor on the other hand. We can see that there are several such struggles taking place simultaneously and an oppressor in one struggle becomes the oppressed in other. The blanket support the Communist Parties give theoretically too the oppressed makes a large section of people suspicious of the Party. They feel the Party is against them. That is why the Left in India is never received mass public support.

  3. April 5, 2012 10:33 AM

    Charvak would appear to have taken up cudgels woth Sankar Ray on behalf of the party in question. A communist party whose leadership is bereft of any street-level direct experience of struggle on behalf of the truly poor (not the Bank officials, govt employees enjoying all sorts of benefits) and also with recorded history of Marichjhanpi-Nandigram atrocities cannot really talk of “class struggle” going by the life styles of the leaders and their pro-ruling elite attitude. People’s struggles are not fought on paper and in reserch articles–one must live the life of the sufferers. The true condition of health care in West Bengal, particularly in the remote areas, and the level of corruption in the govt. during the LF rule are the indicators of this “communist Class” people’s real attitude.

  4. Ritaja permalink
    April 6, 2012 10:55 PM

    We expected much better analytical piece from Kafila than allowing Sankar Ray to express his personal grudge against CPIM’s current leadership. The draft resolution has more serious weaknesses which should have been discussed in detail. What is this Ctrl F & Word Count based article and an irrelevant quote from Engels? Do you call this analysis?

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