[Debate] Indian Communists Lose Marx, and Hope
peterwaterman1936 at gmail.com
Sun Apr 15 17:17:39 BST 2012
Funny, I didn't get the promotion bit.
But, in any case, Yoshie, I already got the left critique of the CPIM in an
item forwarded by Patrick. I am not sure of the source for this. Could it
have been on that rather broad spectrum you dismiss as 'liberal'? It read
more like something from Economic and Political Weekly, which may or may
not fit into your category.
On Sun, Apr 15, 2012 at 4:23 PM, Yoshie Furuhashi <
critical.montages at gmail.com> wrote:
> The IPS article on the CPI(M) is typical of the liberal press's
> articles on the Left: seemingly begin with a party's liberalization,
> only to end with the promotion of the biggest liberalizer in the
> party, in this case Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
> Liberals play bait and switch.
> If you wanna left critiques of CPI(M), there are a lot of sources,
> like Kafila, Sanhati, Radical Notes.
> On Sun, Apr 15, 2012 at 3:33 AM, Peter Waterman
> <peterwaterman1936 at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Yoshie:
> > Ummm...?
> > How or where do you read out of the IPS item that IPS, or even its
> > reporter, supports neoliberalism in West Bengal, India, Cyberspace or
> > anywhere else in the known universe? I'm interested in so far as I have
> > known IPS since around 1980 and been quite seriously opposed to the CPIM
> > since visiting Calcutta round that time. The reason I was so
> > (prematurely?) opposed to the CPIM was for the very reasons that it met
> > such a humiliating defeat in the recent elections. This was for its
> > arrogant, bureaucratic, authoritarian style of rule, which allowed it to
> > lately switch from opposition to embrace of capitalist industrialisation.
> > Perhaps you can explain your argument [delete] remark?
> > One could read out of your two-line intro that you favour the top-down
> > (democratic-centralist) rule - or at least policy - of General Secretary
> > Prakash Karat.
> > But in any case, the matter at issue should rather be the nature of the
> > CPIM, shouldn't it? I mean, isn't there something more than a minor
> > problem if a party spokesman thinks South Africa is a socialist country?
> > Or even that China, Vietnam and, particularly, North Korea are?
> > PeterW
> > On 14-4-2012 21:57, Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:
> >> See the Telegraph editorial that IPS cites favorably below. It's
> >> clear IPS is telling the reader that the CPI(M) hasn't gone neoliberal
> >> enough.
> >> <http://www.telegraphindia.com/1120407/jsp/opinion/story_15341931.jsp>
> >> THE MAN WHO STAYS AWAY
> >> Absence is sometimes a presence. The former chief minister of West
> >> Bengal, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, chose not to attend the party
> >> congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). But by his
> >> physical absence he probably made a point that he could not have done
> >> had he actually attended the party congress. This is not the first
> >> time in recent memory that Mr Bhattacharjee has stayed away from
> >> important party fora, like meetings of the central committee and the
> >> politburo. The thin veil of �health reasons�� notwithstanding, the
> >> conclusion that suggests itself is that Mr Bhattacharjee, through his
> >> deliberate staying away, is trying to convey a message to his
> >> comrades, especially those that sit in the party headquarters in New
> >> Delhi and call the shots using the alibi of democratic centralism. It
> >> will be simplistic to see Mr Bhattacharjee�s absence as a product of
> >> pique. The former chief minister and the face of the beleaguered
> >> CPI(M) in West Bengal is perhaps making a more profound point.
> >> Mr Bhattacharjee is that rare species � a leopard that changed its
> >> spots. Yesterday�s Stalinist, Mr Bhattacharjee is today�s reformer. He
> >> saw the light with the collapse of communism in Russia and eastern
> >> Europe. But in practical terms, he realized the need for reform once
> >> he became the chief minister of West Bengal. There were two aspects to
> >> this realization. One was the recognition that no economic development
> >> was possible in West Bengal without large investments in industry and
> >> manufacturing. This would imply a rethinking of the orthodox communist
> >> attitude towards capitalism. Mr Bhattacharjee, as chief minister, made
> >> that radical break with orthodoxy by becoming capital friendly. The
> >> second aspect was the structure and the functioning of the communist
> >> party. Mr Bhattacharjee wanted to question and abandon democratic
> >> centralism since he realized that this doctrine irretrievably tied him
> >> down to the party�s general secretary, and the latter�s views and
> >> machinations. In a critical way, the two aspects were connected. Mr
> >> Bhattacharjee�s success in wooing capital was dependent on the
> >> endorsement of the party which, under democratic centralism and the
> >> consequent dominance of the general secretary, would never be
> >> forthcoming.
> >> From Mr Bhattacharjee�s perspective of reform, the politburo, the
> >> central committee and the party congress are all interlinked parts of
> >> the structure called democratic centralism. By staying away, Mr
> >> Bhattacharjee is voicing his disapproval. The voice isn�t strident but
> >> piano. A sense of rejection is unmistakable but it isn�t by any means
> >> implacable. The challenge is not overt; nor is it only ideological. It
> >> is a moral point he is making. He wants the party to review its past
> >> and its roots. By being absent, Mr Bhattacharjee is saying many
> >> things. Above everything else, he is making his presence felt. The
> >> epithet �valuable comrade� reflects the importance of Mr
> >> Bhattacharjee�s presence.
> >> On Sat, Apr 14, 2012 at 12:30 PM, Riaz K Tayob<riaz.tayob at gmail.com>
> >>> Indian Communists Lose Marx, and Hope
> >>> By Sujoy Dhar
> >>> NEW DELHI, Apr 14, 2012 (IPS) - While India�s largest left outfit, the
> >>> Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), was licking its electoral
> >>> a newly-elected regime in West Bengal was busy chopping chapters on
> >>> and the Bolshevik Revolution out of high school syllabi, in
> celebration of
> >>> breaking CPI-M�s 34-year stronghold over the state.
> >>> The axing of Marx and Engels on Apr. 6 was a highly symbolic gesture
> in a
> >>> state that had hitherto been the last standing citadel of mainstream
> >>> communism in India and signaled the rise of the ragtag Trinamool
> >>> now in alliance with the ruling Congress party of India, whose leader,
> >>> Mamata Banerjee, is desperately trying to uproot a decades-old
> >>> legacy in the eastern state.
> >>> The CPI-M�s decline has been swift. Its unpopular decision to forcibly
> >>> appropriate 1000 acres of farmland on behalf of the motor industry in
> >>> led to the communists� defeat at the polls in May 2011, where they
> >>> just 61 of 294 seats, down from 235 seats in 2006.
> >>> The Left Front in India still holds an enclave of influence in a small
> >>> northeastern state called Tripura, but losses in its showpiece West
> >>> a state of 90 million people, as well as in Kerala, have been colossal.
> >>> So when CPI-M leaders met in Kerala�s Kozhikode from Apr. 4-9 for the
> >>> Party Congress, everyone expected a public declaration of a �roadmap�
> >>> regain lost ground and identify new areas of support besides Kerala
> and West
> >>> Bengal.
> >>> No visible 'roadmap'
> >>> The biggest question on the table was: can communists reinvent
> themselves in
> >>> the Indian context after the electoral debacle of the 2011 assembly
> >>> elections?
> >>> Experts believe that the communists still have a big role to play in
> >>> if they can leverage on mass opposition to globalisation and general
> >>> dissatisfaction with the ruling powers.
> >>> However, though the party came out with reports that were
> >>> analysts say the communists only paid lip service to reinventing
> >>> at the brainstorming session.
> >>> No concrete roadmap was visible, they say.
> >>> CPI-M�s top decision making Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury said
> >>> party will toe the same Leninist line, but adapt policies to address
> >>> specific needs.
> >>> "It is not a copy of (the) Chinese or Russian path. We have analysed
> >>> trends in socialist countries like China, Cuba, Vietnam, North Korea
> >>> South Africa. We are learning from their experiences so that we can
> >>> implement the good aspects in accordance with the situation here," he
> >>> The congress also adopted a political resolution to forge a new Left
> >>> democratic alternative to the 'neoliberal' policies of the ruling
> >>> party in New Delhi and the �communal� agenda pursued by the Hindu
> >>> nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the two forces that have
> >>> intermittently ruled India throughout the past two decades.
> >>> But many believe these were empty promises, unsubstantiated by specific
> >>> action plans or targeted policies.
> >>> Addressing the needs of the voter base
> >>> Monobina Gupta, a renowned journalist, said that even if the Left
> refuses to
> >>> accept the globalisation model, they do not have to keep looking back
> to the
> >>> Socialist model either.
> >>> "There (is) no movement forward. There is only talk about giving new
> >>> directions but it is couched in the same (old) language and it is
> >>> superficial," she said.
> >>> The congress did not discuss issues close to the heart of CPI-M�s
> >>> constituency, such as the plummeting standard of education and paltry
> >>> healthcare, nor the root causes of discontent with the party, such as
> >>> policing of communities, interference in family life and land
> disputes, and
> >>> its unilateral decisions on industrialisation at the expense of the
> >>> peasantry.
> >>> According to Kolkata-based political scientist Sabyasachi Basu Roy
> >>> Chowdhury, the only positive outcome of the congress was a sign of
> >>> maturation, "a semblance of an independent line emerg(ing) out of a
> >>> colonised mindset", he said, referring to CPI-M�s hitherto blind
> >>> of the Russian and Chinese models.
> >>> But the Congress neither highlighted issues like caste, prevalent in
> >>> northern states where the Left has no presence, nor of tribal
> oppression and
> >>> rights, an issue championed by the barrels of Maoist guns, he added.
> >>> Failure to address these burning concerns partially explains why, over
> >>> past three decades, communists have only been able to consolidate
> >>> in pockets like West Bengal, Tripura or Kerala where caste politics do
> >>> dominate the political scene and where liberal ideas already have deep
> >>> roots.
> >>> The party�s patron, former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb
> >>> Bhattacharjee, the man responsible for wresting farmland from peasants
> >>> behalf of the industrial titan Tata Motors, was conspicuously absent
> at the
> >>> congress, citing health reasons.
> >>> According to an editorial entitled �The Man Who Stays Away�, which
> >>> in the Kolkata-based Telegraph, Bhattacharjee�s decision to stay away
> sent a
> >>> strong message to central leaders based in New Delhi who "call the
> >>> using the alibi of democratic centralism."
> >>> Bhattacharjee has also openly criticised the "unpragmatic" decisions of
> >>> central leaders like Prakash Karat.
> >>> Yet the congress failed to apologise for interference "by armchair
> >>> theoreticians" like Karat in the work of mass-based leaders; nor did
> >>> present "new faces that carry no previous baggage," said Basu Roy
> >>> "Leaders like Karat (who got a third term as general secretary) or
> >>> Yechury have never been (involved in electoral) politics outside of
> >>> University or college campuses," he added.
> >>> CPI-M�s leaders in Bengal blame losses in the eastern state on Karat�s
> >>> policies. For instance, his decision to withdraw support for the
> >>> Party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in 2008, over an India-U.S.
> >>> civil nuclear deal, brought the Congress party and its breakaway but
> >>> dominant faction, the Trinamool Congress, together in a victorious
> >>> at the polls.
> >>> However, at the congress last week, CPI-M endorsed the 2008 decision to
> >>> withdraw support for the UPA, thus missing a chance to truly reflect
> >>> re-group before moving forward.
> >>> "West Bengal is a unique case of surviving 34 years in power by winning
> >>> elections," said Gupta. "That model, too, is very flawed, though (it)
> >>> started initially with (positive) initiatives like land reforms",
> >>> called Operation Barga, in which the rights of poor sharecroppers to
> own the
> >>> land they tilled was protected.
> >>> In the end however, the communists proved completely incapable of
> >>> their stranglehold over social functions and were unable to democratise
> >>> their approach, she added.
> >>> "They took over the cultural space and the political space. (There was)
> >>> daily intimidation and a politics of retribution prevailed along with
> >>> arrogance of power," Gupta said.
> >>> In the absence of a solid roadmap that carves a new path through
> >>> distinct social, economic and political terrain, and a projection of
> >>> leaders who can bring fresh ideas and vision to the group, talks about
> >>> reinventing the party will remain a shallow promise.
> >>> (END)
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