Monday, October 15, 2007

On Bhagat Singh and Terrorism

This is an article from the Red Star Journal

I have highlighted some important points in bold red
which I hope Comrades will take some time out to
ponder on and consider its relevance today.

On Bhagat Singh and Terrorism

It will be purely mechanical if we try to analyse the ideas and understanding of Bhagat Singh on terrorism with dry quotations and loose statements. Bhagat Singh was well aware of the fact that the emotional aspect of terrorism would strongly influence youth. His own experiences taught him that it would result in useless sacrifices and would fill its followers with despair. That is the reason why he tried to save the national movement from the Gandhian reformism. As an alternative to it he proposed the ideal of revolution and a socialist goal. At the same time he tried to save the youth from the attraction of terrorism.

Most of the historians and leftist writers rightly point out that Bhagat Singh could convert Hindustatn Socialist Republican Army (HSRA) and his comrades from terrorism into Marxism. But at the same time, they try to hide the fact that Bhagat Singh seriously opposed Gandhi and his servitude to imperialists. It was Bhagat Singh who clearly understood the revolutionary importance of reducing the prominence of Gandhian type comprador bourgeois positions in the anti-British imperialist national movement. He desired that the national movement should be controlled by proletarian politics. Those who brand Bhagat Singh as a terrorist are depicting then and now the condemnation of Gandhian reformism as bourgeois treachery also as a terrorist policy. Some others feel correctly that Bhagat Singh evolved as a Marxist. But they try to ignore the clear warning of Bhagat Singh that if Gandhian comprador politics are not defeated, the national movement will deceive the proletarian and will join hands with imperialism. Those who support Gandhism are branding Bhagat Singh as a terrorist.

On the other hand CPI, CPM revisionists are trying to hide the revolutionary approach of Bhagat Singh. So it is unscientific to depict Bhagat Singh only as one who negated terrorism even though he propounded the necessity of revolutionary proletarian politics as an alternative to Gandhian politics representing right reformism. Bhagat Singh and his colleagues were not able to digest the sudden withdrawal of the nation wide non co-operation movement using the excuse of the Chouri-Choura incident. Though it was done with the natural revolutionary emotion of the youth, in the course of time, as they grow as Marxists, they were able to understand scientifically in class perspective the comprador nature of Gandhian bourgeois thought. In the evolution of his thought, Bhagat Singh clearly estimated Gandhi as an individual and as a political leader. Revisionists left this dialectical process. In 1924 given Bhagat Singh’s understanding the struggle between him and Gandhi’s politics about the national movement might seem between non-violent struggle or violent revolution. But in 1931 before Bhagat Singh was executed, Gandhi and Bhagat Singh were the representatives of two schools of thought. Gandhi represented bourgeois comprador politics colluding with imperialism and Bhagat Singh represented national revolution with a proletarian class perpective. So the revisionists’ analysis of the evolution of Bhagat Singh from terrorism to Marxism is to be examined critically while understanding Bhagat Singh’s attitude towards terrorism.

Even today we find several people who depict Bhagat Singh as a terrorist. So we need not be surprised if there was an atmosphere 76 years ago feeling that terrorism is equal to revolution. That is the reason why Comrade Bhagat Singh repeatedly and in crystal clear terms declared that he was not a terrorist. 50 days before his execution in his message to the nation which is considered to be his last will and testament, he expressed his ideas on terrorism thus:

“I strongly warn not to find any underlying meanings or meaningless purposes from what I am writing. I was never a terrorist except in the early days of my political life. I strongly believe that we achieve nothing by terrorist methods.”

We should not forget that Bhagat Singh was only 23 and a half years old when he became a martyr. His political life was only for seven years. In this brief period he was a member of Hindusthan Republican Association (Army). He wrote articles to magazines of Delhi and Kanpur. He started the Nav Jawan Bharat Sabha in Lahore and extended its branches to other towns. He added the term ‘socialist’ to Hindusthan Republican Association and made his colleagues accept it. Saunders was shot dead on Dec 17, 1928. Bombs were hurled in the Central Assembly (Delhi) on April 8, 1929. He continued his study and agitation in the jail for two years before his execution.

In the process of evolving from terrorism to Marxism, instead of heroic activities he transformed into an activist consolidating the peoples movement. This is a qualitative change in Bhagat Singh. He made a strong attack on the fundamentals of terrorism to wipe out the terrorist brand leveled on him.

“In the beginning stage, it was a fact that terrorism was useful to me. It shattered my inactivity and idleness. It enthused the intellectuals for self sacrifice. But this is not enough. The history of terrorism is a history of defeats in France, Spain, Russia, Balkan countries, Germany and everywhere in the world. In fact there are seeds of defeat in terrorism itself. Imperialists know fully well that in order to control 30 crore of people, every year they have to sacrifice at least 30 of their country.”

Stray killings of class enemies is useless. The enemy is ready to face that loss. We have to build an active peoples movement to root out the imperialism. Bhagat Singh was clear about all this. Moreover he found two features of terrorism.

1) “When once terrorism gets power, it commits atrocities. This danger is lurking in it.

2) The ultimate result of the spirit of terrorism is equal to Gandhism. It means a compromise, a reform i.e. crowing the black rulers instead of white rulers.”

The message given by Bhagat Singh on 2nd February 1931-his last will and testament is a great document, guiding the theoretical, political and movement building. That was a great message of a young man. The message was the result of his study and experiences. He gave it sincerely, with great responsibility to future generations. He declared that the genuine revolutionary forces were labourers in the factories, and peasants in the fields. Though he became famous by his terrorist activities, he repeatedly warned the youth not to follow its path. He felt correctly that glorification of sacrifice results in the loss of the goal.

He says:

“It is not correct for the revolutionaries to receive set backs in the vicious circle of aimless self sacrifices. It is not an ideal to activists to die for the sake of achieving the aim. They have to live to achieve their goal. They are to live in a useful and meaningful way. I need not repeat that we are not accepting the terrorist action. We are analysing the terrorism from the proletarian angle.”

Bhagat Singh clearly states that it is childish to fix the dates for the success of revolution and he enthused the youth to depend on continuous peoples struggle only.

“You have to follow good discipline. It takes at least 20 years to complete this (revolutionary programme). Don’t believe Gandhi’s promise of getting freedom in a year or the dream of the youth to make success revolution in a period of ten years.

“Revolution does not require romanticism or death. It requires only continuous struggle. a life with sacrifices and underlying sufferings. To begin with destroy your individual desires. Wipe out your personal pleasures. Then start the work.”

Bhagat Singh wrote in Nov-1930 to Batukeswar Dutt, who was convicted with life imprisonment in Central Assembly bomb case like thus:

“I am convicted with execution and you are convicted of life imprisonment. You are going to be alive. You have to prove that a revolutionary not only embraces death to achieve his ideals but also faces several difficulties by living also. Death should not be a means to avoid family troubles. If by chance a revolutionary is exempted from execution, then also he should prove to the world that in the condemned cell of a prison. also he bears all kinds of oppression and mean treatment.”

Dying within a second by gallows or by a bullet or to live by facing oppression and problems of organisation and to continue throughout life a torturous path, which one is difficult? In this letter one will get a meaningful answer to sacrifice.

On June, 6,1929, Asaf Ali their lawyer read out the written statement by Bhagat Singh in Delhi sessions court. When the court questioned “What do you mean by revolution?”, Bhagat Singh, replied thus:

“There is no necessity of bloodshed in a revolution. Moreover there is no scope for individual revenges. Revolution does not mean the culture of bombs and pistols....Revolution is the right of mankind. Freedom is the birth right of general public. No body can take it away by force. The real basis of society is proletarian class. The ultimate aim of the proletarian class is to establish people’s government.”

Under the heading “Revolution”, Bhagat Singh in his will and testament. wrote:

“In the present world there is no chance of success to a revolt by an untrained group which is away from struggle oriented people. If the nationalists desire to play an effective role they have to make the whole nation active and stand for revolution. Our country is not a loud speaker of congress party. The real revolutionary strength is in the peasants and workers who constitute 95 percent of our population. No other revolution will be successful except proletarian revolution. We have to bear in mind that another type of revolution is not acceptable also.”

Bhagat Singh wrote a foreword to Lala Rama Saran’s book “Dream land”. Lala Ram Saran belongs to Gadar Party. In that foreward also Bhagat Singh repeated thus:

“Revolution does not mean a revolt or an incident of blood shed. When we talk of revolution, it means that the state which is existing now is to be destroyed and to reconstruct it in a correct method.”

His political understanding, commitment and revolutionary tactics, his dynamic expertise to correct the mistakes on the basis of the experiences of world revolutionary movements made Bhagat Singh a revolutionary of the first rank. He never confessed before the British rulers that it was wrong to kill Saunders or to throw bombs in the Central Assembly. On the other hand he owned up his activities. At the same time he felt that we cannot get success by terrorist tactics. It is only by mass movements which will drive away British imperialism and feudalism. They wanted a national democratic socialist state.

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