(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 08, 2009
CAPITALIST CRISIS AND SOCIALIST REVOLUTION
The Importance Of Study On Contradictions And Offensive Struggles Against Rule Of Capital
[Below we publish excerpts from the recorded transcript of the concluding address made by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury at the AIKS-AIAWU national seminar held at Wayanad, Kerala, on January 31 & February 1, 2009]
WE had an extremely interesting presentation and discussion in this session. And, a lot more needs to be discussed on this issue. I am sure, that will result in a lot more clarity.
To speak on contradictions, very deliberately and after a lot of discussions within the Party, we came to the conclusion that of the four contradictions we are talking about, all of them are fundamental contradictions and also all of them are main contradictions. Nothing is inferior or superior. But among these four contradictions, we say the contradiction between imperialism and socialism is the central contradiction, because on the resolution of that contradiction depends the transition from capitalism to socialism in the world. So, there is a central contradiction of the epoch and at any point of time, any one of these four, including the central, can come into focus. If tomorrow USA invades Cuba, the contradiction between imperialism and socialism will not only be the central but will also become the focal contradiction. So we have to understand that there is a central contradiction and a focal contradiction, but all four are important and all four are fundamental, so there is no differentiation in that.
And, in that context, from the 17th Party congress, we have been maintaining that the contradiction among this four that is intensifying the most is the contradiction between the imperialism and the third world countries. We have not said that it has come to the focus yet. We have not said that it has become the focal contradiction. But it is intensifying the most among the four contradictions. That is, among these four contradictions, if there is any contradiction that can turn into the focal contradiction, it is the contradiction between the imperialism and the third world countries. This has been the formulation made by the Party.
And, focal contradiction is very important. Why? Because the transition towards socialism in the world is dependent on how this focal contradiction is resolved. When you had the focal contradiction between imperialism and the third world countries at the time of the Vietnam War, the moment US imperialism was defeated, then we said the focal contradiction was resolved in a manner in which socialism at the global level was strengthened vis-à-vis the imperialism. Has this contradiction today come to the stage of becoming the focal contradiction? On that we have not taken a decision on whether we see this as the focal contradiction of today, but definitely, that is the contradiction which is intensifying the most.
Coming to the main issue, I think this seminar was organised to address what is significant in the current international conjuncture in which this seminar is taking place. Why are we all sitting at this particular point to discuss this issue? This is the first time after the fall of Soviet Union and other East European socialist countries when we had come to an assessment that in the international correlation of class forces, imperialism is gaining and socialism was weakened. And during this period, all the struggles that have been led by the Left movement, by mass organisations of the Left, by the communists of the world, were essentially what we call defensive struggles – struggles which defended our rights from the attack and onslaughts of imperialism and capitalism. When socialism got weakened, we are trying to at least save what we have gained over centuries of struggles. So, our arena at that point of time and even today, to a large extent, are defensive struggles to defend our existing rights. And, if you look back that is exactly what has been happening in our own country also. All our struggles were to defend what we had and not allow further erosion.
But now with the global crisis that has happened – the worst capitalist crisis in its history – today we have an opportunity to convert our defensive struggles into offensive struggles against the rule of capital. Today, the rule of capital is going through its worst crisis. But at the political level, the alternative – the political alternative of socialism – is not strong enough, unfortunately, to convert the present capitalist crisis into a revolutionary situation. Otherwise, this crisis would have been an ideal situation for the revolutionary forces to advance. Hopefully in some Latin American countries that may happen. That is good. But as far as we in India are concerned, we have not yet reached that correlation of class forces, by which we can convert this crisis situation into a revolutionary situation. Now, given the opportunity, we have to mount our offensive struggles against the rule of capital. Not that we contain our defensive struggles to safeguard our rights, those are important as well. I am not discounting the fact that only by strengthening our defensive struggles will we move on to the offensive.
Now, how do we make the transformation to the offensive stage? That is the important point of agenda today. And, to make that transition to the offensive stage, there it is absolutely correct what Professor Prabhat Patnaik has pointed out that, in the present conjuncture of the world, the process of primitive accumulation intensifies under the neo-liberal regime. In this situation, the neo-liberal regime itself may undergo a transformation. World capitalism, surely, is not going to re-emerge from this crisis like what it was, as though nothing went wrong.
Eventually, there may be many changes, world capitalism will recoup as it did after Great Depression. That is a different matter. What are these changes, how it will recoup, how it will re-emerge – the point at issue is, there is no denial of the fact that the process of primitive accumulation may intensify in the manner in which, capitalism may re-emerge from the crisis. Remember what Marx taught us, that every capitalist crisis is a revolutionary situation; but when it cannot be converted into revolutionary conditions, capitalism re-emerges from this crisis. Not only will it re-emerge, Marx says, it re-emerges stronger. And, it re-emerges from the crisis stronger because it destroys a large amount of productive forces to maintain the balance between productive forces and productive relations, which is the essence of its class equilibrium. If this class equilibrium breaks, then a revolutionary situation comes up. This is where capitalism is at now. In the process of re-emerging from the crisis, the exploitation of the third world, the exploitation of developing countries is bound to intensify further. That is something we have to understand clearly. If it is bound to intensify further, how it is that we will meet the situation. Not only meet the situation, but try and convert this crisis of capitalism into an opportunity for us to move from the defensive to offensive struggles.
And, there, I think, the essential point is correct – the centrality of the issue on the basis of which we can convert, make such a conversion – that centrality is to intensify popular struggles in which the worker-peasant alliance becomes the central focus, and it is on the basis of this focus, we will have to go for intensification of people’s struggles in order to convert from the defensive nature to offensive nature the struggle against the rule of capital. And, in this the worker-peasant alliance, which is the Party’s programmatic position, is the core. We must also recognise that this alliance is all for a strategic objective in India where we are moving towards a people’s democratic revolution. Now, the axis of the people’s democratic revolution, according to our Programme, is the agrarian revolution. Without the agrarian revolution, we cannot achieve our strategic objective of people’s democratic revolution. Then, if the agrarian revolution is the axis, then how can we develop this axis for the achievement of people’s democratic revolution and how to build the bridges with the non-agrarian sector and build the bridges between your peasants and your class brethren in the non-agricultural sector, in class terms – the working class – the only model with which we can strengthen these struggles, the instrument with which we can build this is the worker-peasant alliance. Remember, all this is happening in a specific conjuncture in India.
We characterise the Indian State as the organ of the class rule of the bourgeois-landlord classes led by the big bourgeoisie, which is increasingly collaborating with the foreign finance capital. The Indian bourgeoisie – why did it forge an alliance with the landlords? It was not a choice. No bourgeoisie will like to have an alliance with landlords as a ruling class. Indian bourgeoisie was forced into an alliance with the landlords in the specific circumstances of how the power was transferred to the big bourgeoisie.
To sustain the class rule, they required the landlords as their ally. And, also to stop us, stop the progressive revolutionary movement from advancing, they required landlords. It is a change that came with the Indian bourgeoisie incorporating the landlords in the ruling class. We said this since 1964. And, today, if you look back, it has been virtually proved that the big bourgeoisie is increasingly collaborating with foreign finance capital. The big bourgeoisie is today a partner of foreign finance capital. Maybe, a junior partner. Whatever it may be, in the entire neo-liberal offensive that has been unleashed in the world, it is a partner.
But, it must be kept in mind that the bourgeoisie has not jettisoned the landlords from the ruling class alliance. To that extent, this is not a situation of all-in unity of the agrarian sector against imperialism. What needs to be done is to build the unity of the non-landlord sections – our programmatic people’s democratic front position. But, then, this will only happen when we build the strength of our core, i.e., the agricultural labour-poor peasant alliance. Only when these core classes rise in strength will the rest of the non-landlord sections of the peasantry rally with us.
But in this situation, the manner in which we advance our struggles, therefore, the fundamental fulcrum of that would be to intensify the struggles of the exploited sections in rural India – that is the struggles of the peasantry, agricultural labourers etc – that becomes the central focus of the present conjuncture, both international and domestic, of how we can advance our class struggles in our country. And, this is the core of the issue. All those issues that have been mentioned from question of electricity to power, water to issue of land reforms – on all these issues struggles have to be intensified and mounted.
LEFT FRONT GOVTS
& QUESTION OF TACTICS
And, there are other issues. The political battles in the country also must be taken into account. Advancing the struggles is not happening in an abstract fashion. It happens in a situation where the main Left force in the country is also the principal part of the political, democratic, electoral process in the country. And, if that is the case, we have Left Front governments which are the outposts of these struggles for our people’s democratic revolution. Now the Left Front governments try to defend people’s interests. Their strengthening is an essential element of intensifying our class struggles against the ruling classes. But the ruling classes will use all machinations possible against the Left Front governments in order to weaken us. We went through this debate in 1980s, in the 12th Party congress, what Comrade B T Ranadive said on the entire question of taking support of private capital. Comrade BTR had said the support for industrialisation of West Bengal is actually an expression of class struggle by which the efforts made by the ruling classes to wean away our popular support in the state by propagating that as long as the Left rules the state there will not be any development are negated. How do we meet this political challenge, which also has to be addressed in all its complexities? It is not only understanding the economic implications of what is happening, but within the politics where efforts will be made to isolate us, where efforts will be made to defeat us, weaken us, in that situation what are the catalysts we employ, those become important.
And, that is precisely what led finally to the document on industrialisation which the government of West Bengal adopted. Yes. In this process of intensification of the process of primitive accumulation of capital against the peasantry and in the present neo-liberal regime, the sufferings of the peasantry becomes an important issue on which popular mobilisation have to take place.
And, at the same time, you have a situation where the Left Front governments – whether they will be able to progress and industrialise or not – become an instrument of political class battle between the ruling classes and us. How do we meet both these, apparently sometimes contradictory issues and there comes the issue of the process of industrialisation. Let us say our Left-ruled states are acquiring land, now is this correct? That depends entirely on what are the terms at which this is being done. Or, do we, therefore, say, pristine as we are, we shall not touch the peasantry. So, let that remain as it may and we will not develop and in the next elections, we loose those elections and then, therefore, we get into a situation where instead of advancing our struggles to safeguard our bases, we return to pitched murderous class battles, like we did during the semi-fascist terror in West Bengal.
But, how do we combine these two without loosing our revolutionary objective? That is where the real politics or tactics comes at the ground level and we have to work out those difficulties. We had those problems in Singur and Nandigram and we are addressing those problems. The question is when such a transformation is taking place, we all understand that no single state government can implement policies which essentially are in the domain of the central government in our federal structure.
Within these constraints, how do we operate and in that operation, we will have to work out the slogans that if industrialisation takes place, how do we protect the peasantry, how are we bringing the peasantry into the mainstream while the working class champions the issues of the peasantry and strengthens the worker-peasant alliance. It cannot be that the tactics we employ for the process of industrialization in the state will negate the strategic objective of strengthening worker-peasant alliance and advancing the people’s democratic revolution. How we fine tune these tactics that actually becomes the problem. And, that is the problem we all are facing. I mean, engaged in.
And, yet another problem comes with the question of land. We had the success of land reform in West Bengal which reached a plateau. Remember, what it means. For one thousand acres of land acquired in Singur, more than 12,000 people took the compensation. What does it mean? Twelve families per one acre. Is there any livelihood worth the name possible? In which case what is the alternative? And, what is the source of alternative that can give employment other than industrialisation? But, then, with industrialisation and land acquiring, we cannot be party to strengthening the process of primitive accumulation of neo-liberalisation. But, at the same time, what are the ways in which we can deal with the situation while strengthening our struggles against neo-liberalism and capitalism today? And that was the manner in which we worked out the levels of compensation and what should be done, re-training etc. etc., everything else in Singur. So such problems will come, will confront us. But the main direction is something which we cannot miss. And that main direction, at any point of time, is working out tactics. Those tactics which always dovetail to advancing our strategic objective and not regressing our strategic objective. And, if these yardsticks are adhered to in specific situations, we will be able to work out these tactics.
But, at the same time, the larger question and, I think, in today’s context, the most important question before the Kisan Sabha and Agricultural Worker’s Union is to identify the issues on which we can intensify the popular struggles of the peasants and agricultural labourers and then build this powerful axis of democratic revolution. That will only happen through popular struggles. Therefore, I think, finally we have to realise that opportunities we did not have for some decades now, of trying to convert struggles which were often defensive in nature, to defend our rights, into an offensive against the rule of capital exist now. This means a mass rural popular movement leading up to an uprising and which can be built in the Indian context will necessarily have to be on issues that will differ from region to region –– somewhere it will be electricity, somewhere it will be water, somewhere it will be land reforms, somewhere it will be other issues. But the centrality of the whole issue is that depending on these issues, the AIKS and AIAWU will have to work out its tactics and move into a movement of action which is essentially, as Professor Patnaik rightly said, based on worker-peasant alliance. But remember what Lenin also said at the second anniversary of the October Revolution. There were big banners on long live worker-peasant alliance, so Lenin castigates them, saying if worker-peasant alliance lives long, after socialist revolution, there cannot be any socialism. The peasantry has to be converted into the rural proletariat. That is a different issue. Till the revolution, the worker-peasant alliance is the instrument.
And, therefore, I think, it must be the central message that must go out of this seminar of Agricultural Workers Union and Kisan Sabha that ‘seize the opportunity today’. Let us build powerful people’s movement. And, there is Comrade Amra Ram nodding away. He got three seats in Rajasthan assembly because of the struggles in Rajasthan. I was telling them jocularly that you cannot be satisfied and press the pause button now, since you won the three seats. If you press the pause button, then these three also will go. It is a cruel choice, either we move forward or your class enemy will move forward. There is no vacuum. So we will have to move forward. After the seminar, the mass organisations will have to work out their tactics accordingly.