Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Stalin's realpolitik and departure

Leftword books is the literary arm of the CPI(Marxist)
and it has recently released a set of books called
"Documents of the Communist Movement in India" with which
it seeks to promote it's point of view.

Documents of the Communist Movement in India
Vol. 1–26 (including Part I and Part II of Vol. 10)

Jyoti Basu (Editor-in-Chief), Sailen Dasgupta, Buddhadev Bhattacharya, Anil Biswas and Santi Sekhar Basu (editors)

Each volume approx. 700–1000 pages, hardback

This set of 27 volumes covers the period 1917 to 1998, and brings together the documents of the Communist Movement in a comprehensive manner. The documents are published here in their exact original form, with no editing whatsoever. An indispensable resource for historians, scholars, journalists and activists. Each volume contains an introductory note by Jyoti Basu and a Foreword by Harkishan Singh

Given below is a news article that appeared about this book

Stalin’s realpolitik and a departure

The History Commission, set up to write the history of the Indian Communist Movement, reveals uncomfortable truths. From the time the Indian National Congress embarked on Fund Bank-monitored reform, Marxist leaders began emphasising Nehru’s commitment to the public sector and anti-imperialism, writes SANKAR RAY, while Stalin had been the original gravedigger of the socialist system

Muzaffar Ahmed, a deified figure in CPI-M circles would have turned in his grave a year ago, when the History of the Communist Movement in India, Volume I: The Formative Years, 1920-1933 was brought out by the party’s History Commission.

It conceded that the document on the colonial question, “Draft Thesis on the Revolutionary Movement in the Colonies and Semi-colonies”, adopted by the Sixth Congress (1928) of the Communist International (Comintern), isolated the undivided CPI from “the main current of the anti-colonial movement”.

Ever since the formation of the CPI-M in October, 1964, the party for the first time found fault with a document, scripted by the president of the Colonial Commission, OV Kuusinen, as desired by Josef Stalin. The undivided CPI in the 1930s endorsed the formulation, despite the cancerous spread of Fascism in the European democracies.

Octogenarian Communist historian Narahari Kaviraj narrated an incident in 1964, during his detention under the Defence of India Rules at the Dum Dum Jail after the Chinese aggression of 1962. “It was decided by us that Comrade Muzaffar Ahmed aka Kakababu would take a class of senior comrades as an ideological exercise.

“When he defended the Sixth Congress document on the colonial question, I explained that this would mean negation of the “Dimitrov Thesis On An United Front” at the Seventh Congress (1935) of Comintern. But Kakababu stuck to his position. This was the CPI-M’s position during its formative years.”

The CPI-M biggies parroted Ahmed, one of the founders of the Communist Movement in India. Speaking to students at the Communist University of the Toilers of the East in May 1925, Stalin said the compromising section of Indian bourgeoisie “has managed, in the main, a deal with imperialism”. (JV Stalin, Works, Vol 7, p 150).

Seeds of sectarian and the unrealistic decolonisation thesis were sown, directly in opposition to the “Thesis On The National and Colonial Question”, scripted by Vladimir Lenin at Comintern’s Second Congress (1920) which accepted the document.
Lenin harped on the “dual role” of colonial bourgeoisie ~ one of opposition to the alien rule and the other of compromise with the Raj.

Which is why he advised eastern Communists to strike a “temporary alliance” with the colonial bourgeoisie, while upholding the “independent class role” to make an impression on the workers and oppressed people.

A former Naxalite, physically poisoned and partially disabled during detention in the early 1970s, like numerous comrades inspired by Mao Zedong , expected the CPI-M leadership to initiate a debate within the party network, right down to the branch committee levels, after a significant admission by the History Commission, constituted in 2002 to write the history of the Indian Communist Movement. But his expectation was belied.

This default was to him a silent consent to the “end of ideology” from AK Gopalan Bhavan, headquarters of the CPI-M in New Delhi.
Contextually, the end of ideology and partyless democracy were ideological overtures against the Communists and Left-wing democrats in the West at the Milan Congress (1955) of the now-defunct Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF).

Strangely, these two ideas were frequently mentioned by Jayaprakash Narayan during his battle against the authoritarianism of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1974-75, though the CCF was wound up in the early 1970s when a former CIA agent alleged that the Milan jamboree was CIA-funded.

Pragmatism often dictates the CPI-M leadership. It appears that the AKG Bhavan finds an open discussion on the History Commission’s crucial admission too risky to manage the party structure with about 800,000 members. After all, in the formative period, the CPI-M’s fire-eating leaders such as P Sundarayya, M Basavapunnaiah, Harkishan Singh Surjeet and Promode Dasgupta ridiculed the rival CPI leaders for their softness towards Nehru and indicted the Communist Party of Soviet Union on the strength of the Sixth Congress document.

Rather the draft thesis was for them a shot in the arm in inspiring the rank and file to oppose the post-Stalin Moscow line of support to anti-imperialist leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Houari Boumediene, Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Kwame Nkruma.
The Soviet position followed the new position of the CPSU at its 20th Congress (1956) where Nikita Khruschev unveiled misdeeds of Stalin in his secret speech on the last day of the congress.

Dr Sobhanlal Dutta Gupta, Surendranath Banerjee, professor of political science, University of Calcutta, in his pathbreaking archival work Comintern and the Destiny of Communism in India :1919-1943: Dialectics of Real and a Possible History (Kolkata, 2006) revealed that Stalin revived the Left-sectarian supplementary thesis of MN Roy, which was virtually rejected at the Second Congress (1920).

In other words, in a zealous bid to move towards the sectarian position, Stalin buried Lenin’s “Preliminary Draft Thesis on National and Colonial Questions” at the same congress which accepted Comintern.

Ludicrously enough, a reviewer of the History Commission’s first volume, frantically tried to rationalise the blind imitation of Stalin’s thesis by the CPI in the 1930s and the CPI-M from its birth and wrote, “A resurgence of the Communist Movement after 1932 was precisely because of disappointments with civil disobedience and Gandhian nationalism.

“The nationalist bourgeoisie had yet to show enough courage and the radical phase of the Congress was still in the future.”

Never did the Indian National Congress, the main party of colonial bourgeoisie, discontinue its movement for freedom, maybe with vacillations, consistent with his class interests.
After all, Mahatma Gandhi clamped the Quit India notice on the Raj in 1942. How could a party that had gone over to the camp of colonialists and imperialists do this?
The History Commission’s admission is the beginning of silent de-Stalinisation in the CPI-M. Small wonder, from the time the INC embarked on Fund Bank-monitored reform, CPI-M leaders began emphasising Nehru’s commitment to the public sector and anti-imperialism. Fortunately for the CPI-M, Kakababu was not alive.

CPI-M and CPI rank and file may be stupefied to note that apologists of the US imperialism believed that Stalin was the grave-digger of the socialist system, and neither Khruschev nor Mikhail Gorbachov was primarily responsible for destruction of mankind’s first non-exploitative social order.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, US national security adviser during the era of President Jimmy Carter and now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, USA, in an interview to Tang Yong, Washington correspondent of Renminribao, official daily of the Chinese Communist Party, on 20 March, said bluntly that the “break-up” of the Soviet Union was predicted by him in 1950 in his Master’s thesis. Here is the relevant extract.

Tang Yong: You once predicted the break-up of the Soviet Union along the lines of nationality in your Master’s thesis. Right?
Brzezinski: Yes!
Tang Yong: How could you make such a farsighted prediction?
Brzezinski: That was not a very difficult prediction for me since I was conscious of the importance of history.
Tang Yong: How old were you at that time?
Brzezinski: I was twenty.
Tang Yong: Very young man!
Brzezinski: Yes.
Tang Yong: In which year?
Brzezinski: This was in 1950. I felt that the Soviet Union was pretending to be a single state but in fact it was a multinational empire in the age of nationalism. So the Soviet Union would break up. Later in my life, I was in a position to advocate policies designed to accelerate that process.

(“Agenda for Constructive American-Chinese Dialogue Huge: Brzezinski, 20 March, 2006” http://english.people
603/20/eng20060320_25 1953.

Paul Sweezy, arguably one of the best Marxist economists in the post-Lenin era, prefacing the Japanese edition of his Post-Revolutionary Society in 1990, wrote , referring to Perestroika and the collapse of the East European socialist states that “a qualitative break had occurred during the early Stalin era, leading to the emergence of a class-exploitative system of a new kind ~ neither capitalism nor socialism”.

In 1970, in a polemical response to Charles Bettelheim, Sweezy in another treatise, On the Transition to Socialism, identified that “the bureaucratic Stalinist political system rather than central planning … constituted the real weakness of Soviet society”.

A bureaucratically administered economy prevented politicisation of the masses. Instead of utilisation of the creative mood of workers for augmenting an “initiative and responsibility” to consolidate the socialist order, conditions were recreated during the Stalin era for “commodity fetishism”, together with “false and alienated consciousness. It is, I submit, the road back to class domination and ultimately the restoration of capitalism”, scanned Sweezy.

The April-June, 1996 issue of the CPI-M’s theoretical journal, The Marxist, reprinted the legendary British Communist Rajani Palme Dutt’s lecture, “The Treatment of History” (delivered at the Moscow University in 1962). Reminding Lenin’s rationale behind naming the Pravda daily, (pravda being truth in Russian), he said: “Our weapon is the truth. The weapon of Marxism is that truth.”
Suppression of truth, AKG Bhavan mandarins must agree, cannot be a tactical justification.

(The author is a freelance writer.)


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