In the September '98 issue of 'Red Star' (RS), in the article
entitled "Let the doctor treat himself first" [A response to CPI (ML) PW’s
criticism against CPI (ML) Red Flag] the author seeks to justify his party's
inconsistencies and its serious deviations to the right. It seeks to avoid
clear-cut answers through obfuscation of the main issues involved.
The questions that arise from the reply are:
(i) Does the CPI (ML) Red Flag (henceforth referred to as RF) accept the
strategy of area-wise seizure of power, through a protracted people's war? If
YES, how are its present tactics linked to that strategy ? If no, what is its
strategy for seizure of power in this so-called phase of 'neo-colonial
(ii) Does it accept agrarian revolution as the axis of the new democratic
revolution ? If not, how then is seizure of power to be achieved ? If YES, what
steps is it taking to further this key task?
(iii) Clearly state what is the predominant mode of production within India
today. If it is fast heading towards 'capitalist development' (R.S. page 13,
Sept. '98), however 'distorted or neo-colonial' that may be, what is the
implication of this so-called 'qualitative CHANGE' on the STRATEGY of Indian
(iv) With a basically legal party organisation (including leadership) how does
RF expect to intensify the class struggle in a country like India which has few
democratic institutions or traditions ? Besides, how does it expect to face
fascist forces, maintaining a legal existence?
(v) Can Bolshevisation of the Party be achieved independent of the
intensification of the class struggle?
Having posed these questions, let us now take up some of the major issues raised
by RS in its Sept.'98 issue:
(1) On Strategy and Tactics:
In the section entitled 'On armed struggle' (RS pages 19, 20) while pitting the
earlier Telangana armed struggle against the present-day armed struggles, RS
concludes that “though PW and some other organisations may continue to have
dalams and their numbers may even increase, no real break-through is possible in
leading the NDR to victory.” First, to pit an armed struggle of the past
with that of the present is outright distortion - hailing one, while calling the
other 'sectarian.' Second, to state that the present is bound to lead to
failure, without suggesting any alternative for seizure of political power, is
nothing but defeatist. Third, if the earlier armed struggles are really being
hailed, how is the RF at least applying those principles to their present
But, it is apparent that RF is not really serious about armed struggle. This is
evident when, in a later paragraph, it says that the "present Indian
situation is BASICALLY (emphasis ours) different form that of pre-1949 China.
"If it is BASICALLY different, is RF questioning the very Chinese path of
protracted people's war? It would appear so! PW clearly states that in
essence the Indian revolution will follow the Chinese path, and the differences
that exist have been clearly outlined in the PW document 'Strategy and Tactics'.
What then is the RF's alternative to the present armed struggle ? It is a
pathetic call "for a mighty ideological-political campaign to combat the
counter-revolutionary imperialist offensive in all fields including
socio-cultural fields to prepare the masses for revolution." Such
counterposing of mere propaganda activity to intensification of the class
struggle is an indication of the depths of impotency to which the RF leadership
has descended. Such propaganda has been going on for the past two decades. For
how many more decades does the RF leadership plan to confine its party's
activity to primarily propaganda?
Propaganda against imperialism is of course imperative, but that cannot
indefinitely remain the essence of a proletarian party's activity. Besides,
PW has been actively conducting such propaganda and 'ideological and political
campaigns' against imperialism, while keeping the anti-feudal armed struggle as
its central focus. The two need not be counterposed, as the RF is attempting to
do. Let us look at some examples of PW's anti-imperialist programmes.
To build the anti-imperialist consciousness, PW, every year, in all its areas,
actively conducts August 15th and January 26th as 'black days'.... and has held
April 14th as Anti-Dunkel Day. Besides, it has conducted countrywide campaigns
against the government's liberalisation policies, the Dunkel IGATI' offensive,
the Gulf War, the Bhopal Union Carbide holocaust, etc. The mass organisations
have held seminars against the imperialist/comprador inspired coal policy,
education policy, destruction of the environment etc. On the cultural front, the
mass organisations have been actively fighting imperialist culture, as in the
joint activity against the Miss World contest and the campaign against cable TV
in the guerilla zone area even successfully stopping Cable TV in
certain villages. North Telangana guerilla zone areas youth organisations have
conducted wide campaigns against the MNC's introduction of mini-cigarettes, and
have even successfully banished it in some villages. Besides, at the local level
numerous specific campaigns have been conducted, such as the Karnataka student's
campaign against Ford Foundation, the coal mine workers' campaign against the
new coal policy, etc.
So, for RF to make a fetish of anti-imperialist propaganda and to pit it against
the anti-feudal armed struggles is merely a method to cover up its own passivity
in furthering the class struggle. The reality is that the RF has no clear-cut
strategy for the seizure of power and must therefore rest content with making
banalities such as "learning from them (i.e. other revolutions) and learning
from the masses of people in our country, we have to make ourselves capable of
seizing the political power and creating a New Democratic India." For all
the RF's self-professed claims to theoretical purity, its fuzziness on basic
questions of strategy and tactics are noteworthy.
(2) On Theory and Practice
The problem with the RF is that it confuses 'Left' rhetoric for 'theory' and
then complains that the VG critique negates theory for pragmatism. Quite the
contrary, the VG critique merely emphasises the importance of theory to be taken
as a guide to action.... not for the sake of 'Left' sloganeering to dupe genuine
cadre. For example RF's claim to be inheritors of the CPI (ML) and Naxalbari,
its praise for CM, its support to the Peru and Philippines revolutionary
movements, etc. is in no way linked to either its present policies and practice,
nor to its newly founded alliances with revisionists and
What is worse, it is manipulating 'theory' to provide a smoke screen for its own
drift to the right, by attempting to club the genuine revolutionaries with the
Lin Piaoists and spreading false rumours that PW is following the 'foco theory'
in its armed struggle. Not once has it been shown in any article or practice
wherein PW is basing itself on the 'foco' concept, yet RF persists in this
Is the RF unaware of PW's repeated emphasis on the mass line and the need to
arouse the masses for armed struggle ? Are they unaware of the extensive mass
mobilisation by the PW inspite of heavy repression ? Do the concepts of the PW
to build the guerilla zone by establishing the organs of people's power,
establishing development committees, educational committees, justice committees
and the village militias, fit in with the Cuban style 'foco' theory ? Does the
existence of mass organisations of the peasants, workers, youth, women, students
and the sweeping cultural movements, fit the 'foco' concept. Is the RF just
ignorant of these facts or is it playing with 'theory'?
(3) On United Front
RS makes contradictory statements (RS page 21) when it first accuses PW of being
sectarian for not being part of their 'slogan based joint movement' with various
revisionist formations, and in the very next breath accuses PW for incorrectly
allying with rich peasant forces.
First let it be clear, that rich peasants form part of the New Democratic United
Front, while revisionists do not. As Lenin said, revisionists are nothing but
bourgeois agents within the working class movement - they are the enemies of
revolution and the last refuge of reaction. For RF to ally with revisionists
like CPI (ML) Liberation, CPI (ML) New Democracy, COI (ML) and MCPI in a
so-called 'slogan-based joint movement' - which is defacto an anti-imperialist
unity - only acts to diffuse any real anti-imperialist struggles. Revisionists
of all hues, no matter what demagogic statements they may make, cannot play any
significant anti-imperialist role. The MCPI, particularly, is notorious for its
anti-people activities in Narsombet area in Warangel district. Its leader, Omkar,
a No.1 class enemy in the area, had thrice survived the annihilation attempts by
the guerillas of CPI(ML)f People's War]. A front with such elements only acts as
an effective safety valve for the dissipation of the anti-imperialist sentiments
amongst the rank-and-file and masses under their influence.
It is one thing to have joint actions against imperialist targets - like say,
Cargill; KFC, etc. - with all who are willing to participate, it is quite
another matter to build a joint movement' with revisionists. Issue based
activities can and should be as broad as possible involving all who are willing
to participate. But while building up United Front work, the aim should be to
build the four class alliance, with the worker peasant alliance as its basis,
specifically isolating all the enemies of revolution — particularly those that
seek entry wearing a 'Left' mask. And, in the final analysis, the RF calls
for a joint movement' with Liberation-type outfits; the CPI (ML) Liberation
calls for 'Left-unity' with the CPI(M) type ruling class parties; and the CPI
(M) calls for 'secular unity' with the Congress (I) a cosy chain of unities,
tying all to the status quo !
(4) On Revolution and Counter-revolution
The real problem with the RF in all its 'Unity' moves and joint movements' is
that it is not able to draw a clear line of demarcation between the
revolutionary forces and the revisionists. This vision has got particularly
blurred ever since it has changed it stand towards the CPI (ML) Liberation -
first treating it as a revisionist organisation, now viewing it as part of the
revolutionary camp, with merely a drift to the right.
As Mao said, it is imperative that the party of the proletariat be able to
distinguish between Sian and Yenan….. i.e. between revolution and
counter-revolution. Once this is done, the attitude towards each will differ.
Towards the revolutionary (even with mistakes) it will be positive, and
criticisms will be with a view to help and correct, while towards the
revisionists the attitude will be quite different.....criticisms will here be
with a view to expose and condemn. Such a difference in approach is not
visible in RF's present-day criticisms of PW and Liberation.
What is even worse, inspite of the CPI (ML) Liberation falling into the
parliamentary path, supporting the erstwhile USSR, defending Deng's China, etc.,
the RF claims that in essence the PW line and the Liberation line are the
same.... just because Liberation also continues to nominally maintain that the
contradiction between feudalism and the masses is principal. Does such polemics
have any seriousness, when it is quite clear that the two parties are, in
essence, poles apart? It is nothing but resorting to formal logic to distort
reality .... like saying, a horse has four legs; a donkey has four legs, so a
horse is equal to a donkey!
(5) On Principal Contradiction
Here, RS has resorted to a mechanical application of Mao's philosophical
concepts and also to distortion of the classics, in order to undermine the
anti-feudal task in the Indian democratic revolution.
First, it states that PW is eclectic in its understanding by "its deletion of
principal contradiction at the international level, while faithfully sticking to
it at national level in its party programme. "And it further adds that the
RF is more consistent by removing this concept at both international and
national levels. Sounds very logical.... but pure logic has its limitations,
specifically when it seeks to cover up the truth. For RS to compare the entity
of the World Socialist Revolution with that of the Indian Revolution, is to
confuse the issue. The World Socialist Revolution is an ensemble of separate
revolutions in different countries, for which there may or may not be a
'principal contradiction'; while the Indian revolution (or the revolution in any
one country) is not an ensemble of separate anti-imperialist revolutions and
anti-feudal revolutions, but a composite whole, wherein at different times one
particular contradiction will be principal.
Next, for RS to state that, "the documents of the 1CM and the communist
parties including the CPC till 1968, show that till that time the concept of
principal contradiction was never put forward in any of them is downright
dishonest. On the question of World Socialist Revolution, the CPC had never put
forward the concept of a principal contradiction, but, at most, referred to the
storm centres of world revolution. On the other hand, as regards the Chinese
revolution, the CPC has always put forward the concept of a principal
contradiction - generally being between feudalism and the masses of the Chinese
people, which changed to that between Japanese imperialism and the Chinese
nation, at the time of Japanese aggression.
The RF is resorting to bourgeois semantics to justify its removal of the clause
that in the Indian revolution the principal contradiction is between feudalism
and the masses of the people. If RF seeks to alter this basic content of the CPI
(ML) programme, and the strategy and tactics based on it, it should openly say
so, rather than resort to such subterfuge.
(6) On Neo-colonialism
The RF's so-called 'neo-colonial phase' runs into two problems. First, is it a
new stage of imperialism? Second, what then are the class relations within India
? Let us see what RS says.
On the first point they state (RS, Sept.'98, page 15), “The problem with PW
like organisations is that they see changes as only arithmetic progressions.
They refuse to see the qualitative changes that have taken place in the
neo-colonial phase." As quantitative (or arithmetical) change does not lead
to the change in the nature of the entity itself and qualitative change
does, the RF must explain what are the qualitative changes in imperialism
that have taken place in this so-called 'neo-colonial phase'. The PW definitely
does not believe that the present developments have led to any qualitative
changes in imperialism, but that the present neo-colonial policies have only
accentuated all the aspects of imperialism as defined by Lenin. This is more
clearly brought out in an article on 'Finance Capital today', which appears in
this issue of the magazine.
On the second point, in RF's neo-colonial thesis, it is not clear what the
predominant mode of production is, within the country. Neo-colony, semi-colony,
colony, etc 4efines the relationship between a backward country and the
imperialists, it does not state what the class relations within the country are
- whether they are feudal, semi-feudal or capitalist. On this point RF is
consistently ambiguous. Firstly, it denies (RS page 13) that "semi-feudal
relations are predominant "; it also denies that it is "predominantly
capitalist". So in the RF schema the predominant mode of production at
present remains undefined, but predicts that it is fast changing "towards a
distorted or neocolonial capitalist development". In other words, for the
present, the RF is unable to define the predominant mode of production in the
country, and for the future it says, that is will soon be capitalist.... though
that capitalism may be "distorted or neo-colonial" in character. This
understanding has no relation whatsoever with that of the CPI (ML) 1970
programme and is closer to that of the dependency theories of Andre Gunder
Frank, Samir Amin, etc.
Based on an analysis of the changing agrarian relations within India, and
utilising Mao's concepts and Lenin's 'Development of capitalism in Agriculture'
as a guideline, PW clearly sees the predominant mode of production in India as
(7) On Political Line and Armed Struggle
There is a tendency for the RF to pit political line against armed struggle...
and also mass line against armed struggle.... thereby negating the importance of
armed struggle in India. And to give validity to this argument, the failure of
numerous armed struggles are cited.
First, let it be clear that armed struggle per se is not the only basis to prove
the communist credentials of any movement. In fact in most backward countries,
due to the inhuman oppression and fascist brutalities, the oppressed are forced
to take to violence to defend even their minimum democratic, civil and human
rights. So, often armed struggles are launched not only by communists but also
by the oppressed nationalities and various other democratic forces.
In India too, not only is the oppression and exploitation reaching unbearable
limits, the brutalities of the state and fascist gangs, are forcing not only the
revolutionaries to violence, but also the oppressed nationalities, the dalits,
the minorities, the workers and the peasants. Today, for example even minimum
trade union rights are being denied
- liberal TU leaders like Niyogi and Samant are openly murdered; the one-lakh
strong coal miners union, SIKASA, is banned; and strikes in public sector units
have ESMA clamped against them and their leaders arrested. In such a situation,
where all peaceful forms of activity become increasingly meaningless, does not
the undermining of armed struggle play into the hands of the ruling classes and
fascist forces? It is an irony that 'revolutionaries' like RF tremble at the
word 'armed struggle', while the fascist forces like the Shiv Sena, RSS, Bairang
Dal are openly building up their quasi-military forces. The RF keeps talking of
fighting the fascist forces - yet it refuses to prepare itself for the task. It
is not even able to learn from past history of the anti-fascist movement during
World War II; where communists militantly fought the fascists in the streets as
well as through partisan warfare.
One wonders how the RF can face the growing fascist menace with its entire Party
apparatus, including the entire leadership, remaining overground and without any
preparations for waging armed struggle.
Like the revisionist parties of the Second International, is not the RF
leadership commiting the criminal folly of making the party totally defenceless?
Even to carry out its self acclaimed anti-imperialist campaign, can it rely on
its existing legal setup? Does not the passive, reformist line it has been
pursuing lead to a complete decimation of the perty in the face of fascist
attacks (provided, of course, the ruling classes think you are a real threat)?
We request the RF leadership to seriously ponder over these question.
Though armed struggle cannot per se be equated to communism, in a country like
India can any serious communist undermine it ? Here, where armed struggle is
on the agenda from the very beginning of the revolutionary movement, any serious
communist party must either be leading it, or preparing for it. For the RF
to delink the question of political line from that of armed struggle, or to pit
one against the other, is bound to lead to all forms of revisionism and
reformism. The political line determines the friends and enemies of revolution
at a given time, the line of conduct of the proletarian party at that moment,
the tactics to be followed, etc.... all within the general strategic plan of
revolution. Armed struggle is very much a part of this, and is, infact, central
to the implementation of the very political line itself.
In a country such as India, only those communist revolutionaries that are
serious about armed struggle are of any significance for making revolution.
Political differences may exist even amongst those parties and groups on
questions of analysis of the national and international situation, or questions
of organisation and tactics, etc.... but these can be resolved through
discussion and debate in the course of advancement of the class struggle. But
for those who are not serious about armed struggle, who are unable to take the
class struggle forward, even discussions lack sincerity.
Finally, the RF must remember, that it was by Opposing revolutionary violence
and armed struggle that the Khruschevite modern revisionists built their
theories of three 'peacefuls'. The question of revolutionary violence and armed
struggle was then very much apolitical question. And so is it today.
(8) On Building an All-India Bolshevik Party
In order to prove PW's 'sectarianism' RF cites the example of lack of
unification between the three organisations leading armed struggles and states,
"and even the last minute efforts for PW and PU unity also collapsed.
"This is probably only wishful thinking on the part of the RF leadership
who fear unification between the real revolutionary forces. On the contrary, the
RF is itself facing severe splits within its own ranks, with a sizable section
coming out of the party and forming another CPI (ML) faction and that too, after
severe political and organisational criticisms on the RF leadership.
Of course, it is quite true, that amongst the M-L forces in India there has been
much dogmatism and sectarianism, which has been a hurdle for rectification of
errors and for unification. This should, no doubt, be corrected wherever it
persists. But what has been a source of even greater danger, specifically during
the last two decades, has been the proliferation of rightist groups.... all
seeking validity in the name of attacking the dogmatism and sectarianism of the
past. It is these that have caused greater harm in building a unified
revolutionary CPI (ML).
Unite we must, into one all-India Bolshevik style party; but, as Lenin
maintained, before we unite and in order to unite, clear lines of demarcation
must be drawn between Marxism and revisionism. There must be unity not only on
the question of programme, but also on questions of tactics and organisation.
There must be unity not only on questions of theory, but also a common practice.
The'-e must be a true spirit of democratic centralism in the uniting bodies,
which supersedes all forms of bureaucracy, petti-bourgeois individualism and
ego, or a mountain-stronghold mentality. Only then can the unity be lasting and
advantageous for furthering the class struggle. PW, having learnt this from
bitter experience, has taken all the above factors into account, rather than
going in for any hasty unity moves.... and it is for this reason that the
unification between the erstwhile PW and PU took a little time. It was for the
same reasons, for want of commonalty on all the above issues, that unity with
MCC has been temporarily stalled. No doubt, as both parties continue on the
revolutionary path, unity will be achieved at some future date. Meanwhile, PW
has a positive approach towards MCC and its movement, while struggling with it
at the ideological and political plane.
But as far as the rightist M-L groups/parties are concerned, many of which have
indefinitely postponed the question of armed struggle or even removed it from
the agenda itself, unification is only possible after a thorough going
rectification ... which involves adopting not only correct strategy and tactics
but also developing a correct practice and building a Boishevised party with
professional revolutionaries as its core. If such organisations do not
critically review their past, the genuine revolutionaries within them are bound
to realise the futility of such bodies and rally behind the genuine
To take RF's latest split. Not only has the breakaway faction accused the RF
leadership of diverting the movement from the revolutionary path.... on a number
of basic questions... but has also accused them of incorrect organisational
methods. In a statement dated May 20, 1998, a CRC member (RF's leadership body)
has said: "When the party wants to change the cardinal aspects of the line it
should come out with a document, circulate it among the rank and file and should
finalise it after due discussion. There was no document on any of the cardinal
questions raised in the beginning of this note (i.e. Area-wise seizure of power,
principal contradiction, armed struggle and peoples' army, boycott of elections,
concept of secret party organisation and nationality question) we got the
understanding through the articles in Red Star and side talks during CRC
meetings. Can a serious revolutionary party adopt such surreptitious methods?"
It is obvious that, the infirm patient, while throwing wild accusations
against PW and demanding that "the doctor treat himself first", is itself
gasping for oxygen in a bid to survive.
In a vast country like India, divided by numerous nationalities, languages,
castes, religions etc.; building a homogenous all-India proletarian party is no
easy task. This problem has been further compounded by decades of revisionism
prior to Naxalbari and a quarter century of fragmentation in the post-Naxalbari
period. It is only by further deepening the class struggle, successfully
combating state repression, raising the ideological and political level of the
entire party organisation, deepening our understanding of the concrete situation
within India and of MLM Thought, and by strictly following democratic centralist
principles of party organisation, with a modest and self-critical approach....
can a truly Bolshevised all-India party be built. The PW has merely taken a
first step forward in this gigantic task.
In this reply we have taken some of the main points raised in the RS article. We
have not repeated the points already mentioned in the May-June '98 issue of
Vanguard. Regarding some of the wild accusations hurled against us by the RS
article we have not thought it fit to counter them, here, practice alone will
prove who is correct and who is not. Regarding some of the errors within PW; the
party has already done a detailed self-critical review and sought to rectify its
shortcomings in both political and organisational matters.
The PW has never claimed to have solved all the complex questions of Indian
revolution... this is an ongoing process of study and analysis.... but what it
has done is to work out a basic international standpoint, a basic analysis of
Indian society, a detailed strategy and tactics, a stand on the nationality
question and a policy paper on caste and women. Besides, it has two detailed
self-critical reviews -one, for the 1967-80 period, the other for the 1980-95
period. The PW has always been ready and eager to learn from others'
experiences, specifically those that have been able to successfully lead the
class struggle forward, whether in India or abroad.
The PW has never claimed to have achieved a great strength, given the enormity
6f the Indian state; but what it has achieved, in some pockets of India, is one
step beyond the earlier Telangana armed struggle (1948-51) in its ability to
withstand the state and with a more developed military line and systematic
growth of the organs of power. Of course, it still has a very long way to go....
after all, the Indian revolution is a protracted people's war.
Criticisms from the RF, or any other source, are welcome if they help in
furthering the armed struggle and rectifying genuine flaws ....as that will only
help achieve the NDR quicker, and thereby alleviate the unbearable suffering of
the vast masses in India. If the RF is at least serious in its anti-imperialist
tasks, if not agrarian revolution, we hope that they will intensify the struggle
against the pro-imperialist policies of the governments and the MNC