People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 22

May 29, 2011


We Shall Overcome


R Arun Kumar


ACCORDING to the critics the verdict is out – with the loss in West Bengal, after being in power for 34 years, the CPI(M) and communism are passé. This verdict is not pronounced by the people, but by the 'analysts' tearing their hair on how to better the venom spewed from 'that earlier analysis'. Since the results for the five state legislative assemblies are out, not a day had passed without one or the other 'analyst' writing epitaphs to the communists and the Left. Most of them are part of the 'disappointed lot', disappointed because they were unable to realise their similar desire, post-Soviet Union. Sadly for them, they are going to perennially remain disappointed.


Of course, there are some analysts who are genuinely concerned about the Left and the communists and want them to immediately recoup and bounce back. They want the Left to carry out a proper introspection, which has already started, and come out with renewed vigour to fight the mounting attacks on the common people. They have some valid points/criticisms to make, which the Left itself had acknowledged to take cognisance of, during its introspection. But others are neither fair in their analysis/criticism, nor bereft of any sinister agenda. They had spread canards on the Left during the election campaign and now after the results, intend to take it to its 'logical conclusion' – demoralise the cadres, sow doubts over the ideological relevance of the Left and add force to the physical attacks. Vain hopes indeed!


Before proceeding further, think of this. Does anyone remember any party or ideology being written off after an electoral defeat? In a democracy, parties win and lose, but obituaries are reserved only for the Communists and the CPI(M)! Now, let us look at another simple fact. A news item had appeared in the newspapers on May 24. It states that the Left front government in West Bengal, under Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had led the state on the path of rapid industrialisation to place it in the fourth position in the list of states, ahead of even Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh that are considered to be the leaders in the pack. But these very newspapers cried hoarse both before and during the election campaign stating that the state was wanting in development. They let the cat out of the bag, with their task accomplished, as they now feel there is no wrong in being truthful to facts. This is only one among the numerous mischiefs committed by the media analysts, who to be fair to them, are only performing their assigned duty, waging a class battle, a battle of ideas for the ruling classes. History testifies to the fact that the communists are not new to such malicious attacks, but are, in fact, tempered from such 'battles'.


Right from the day the Communist party was founded in our country, it had to face numerous attacks. Conspiracy cases were slapped, members arrested, persecuted, tortured and killed, but nothing failed to stop its onward march. Slanders were propagated, ignominies hurled, names were called, but none succeeded. So, in a sense, what is happening today is not something new, but is an old tactic employed by the ruling classes. The younger generation, aligned with the Left should in fact 'thank' the media for providing them with an opportunity to participate in this class war and steel themselves.


To defend their belief in communist ideology, one need not quote from Marx 'himself'. If we purview the events happening around us with a rational mind, we can easily discern that the only way out of the morass engulfing the world is through the correct application of the principles expounded by Marx. The war on Libya, global economic crisis, growing inequalities, corruption, environmental concerns...all of them cannot be properly understood, unless looked through the prism of Marxism-Leninism. Many observers driven by their blind hatred towards communism could not fathom these events and even those few who could, tried to belittle their enormity under the guise that these have taken place due to the moral turpitude of a few. If a certain set of individuals are only responsible for the current mess, remember that they were changed at the very epicentre of these events. Obama replaced Bush, but this did not stop the attack on sovereign states. The entire financial team of Bush was replaced by Obama and similarly many financial institutions changed their heads, but this did not put an end to the global financial crisis. Even in the Middle-East, the ruling classes are trying to wear down the popular protests by changing faces, forcing the dissatisfied people to come out once again onto the streets. This in itself shows that wars and economic crisis do not happen due to the whims and fancies of certain individuals but happen because they are intrinsic to the social system we are living in today – the capitalist system.


Similar is the case with income inequalities. What else can explain the condition in our country where on one hand we have more than 77 per cent of the people who live on less than Rs 20 per day, whose numbers are growing rapidly, and on the other, the increasing number of dollar billionaires and their assets? What else can explain the starvation deaths and the lack of space for storing food grains, which are left to rot in the open than be distributed to the destitute, despite repeated orders from the unusually sensitive higher judiciary? What else can explain the spate of peasant suicides in spite of the various packages announced by the union government? What else can explain the Congress-BJP voting in tandem for the pension reform bill? Nothing else can explain these phenomenon except for Marxism-Leninism and the politics of the Left.


Media 'pundits' are afraid of facts and answers to these questions and hence trying to gloss over them. Worldwide the readers of Marx's Capital have increased. The book is in demand as never before in recent history, as people are trying to figure out what had caused the present wreak on their lives. People are finding out what socialism and communism really mean. Eleven per cent in the US, the fountain-head of neo-liberalism, think 'communism' is a 'morally superior' system to that which is currently in place in the country, and another 13 per cent aren't sure, according to a startling new Rasmussen poll, conducted in March 2011. Further, 10 per cent say that the 'communist system of economics and politics' is better for middle-class Americans, and another 10 per cent are undecided. In an April 2009 Rasmussen poll, only 53 per cent said that capitalism was better than socialism. With the margin of error, those who think capitalism is better are statistically tied with those who think socialism is better (20 per cent) and those unsure (27 per cent).


The results of a similar survey sponsored by the Romanian government-funded IICMER (the Institute for Investigating the Crimes of Communism and the Memory of Romanian Exile), in order to help guide the institute in its work to 'educate' the population about the evils of communism are also significant. The answers they received bitterly disappointed them. Particularly significant in the results of the survey is, as they acquire more experience of life under the 'market economy' people are becoming more negative about capitalism and positive about communism. In the previous poll in 2006, 53 per cent expressed a favourable opinion about communism; the 2010 survey showed that 61 per cent are favourable towards communism. According to the US-based Pew Research Center's survey carried out in several Central and East European countries in 2009, the proportion of people who take the view that life under capitalism is worse than it was during the period of communist power is as follows: Poland, 35 per cent; Czech Republic, 39 per cent; Slovakia, 42 per cent; Lithuania, 42 per cent; Russia, 45 per cent; Bulgaria, 62 per cent; Ukraine, 62 per cent; Hungary, 72 per cent. This is perhaps what is meant by 'wiser with experience'!


Ruling classes naturally try to nip any real challenge to their hegemony, if not in the bud, at least before it grows into threatening dimensions. As they had failed to nip communism in the bud, alarmed by its electoral strength in 2004, they have since targeted all their energies on the Left. It is even more necessary for them now, in these times of economic crisis – a time when they are trying their best to come out of it by further burdening the working people. They are comfortable with the growth of right-wing communal and fundamental forces, the Frankenstein they create, but not with the growth of communist ideas. And remember, it is only the communist parties that not only stood up to these challenges, but also defeated them and put a lid on their growth, whether outside the country or in West Bengal.


There is no force on the earth that can forever pin-down communism or communists. Yes, mistakes were committed, but only in the process of grappling with socio-economic realities. It is only the communists who have the real courage not only to own up their mistakes but also rectify them and emerge strengthened further. If somebody thinks that the melting of snow will reduce the height of the mountain, they live in no less than a fool's paradise. The defeat in elections is only a passing eclipse. Anyone who knows what exploitation really means, can vouch for the validity of communism because it is only the followers of this ideology, who genuinely stand by the toiling sections in the society, defend their interests and fight for their rights. At the risk of appearing arrogant, we can say the relevance of communism and communist parties can easily be understood by the toilers, but the “stupid call it stupid and the squalid call it squalid”. And we know, “it is the simplest thing, so hard to achieve”. But achieve, we will!