NAXALISM: A CRITIQUE-II – ADWAIT RAI
Socialist India is publishing a series of articles critiquing what is called popularly the Naxalism . This critique is based on a Marxist- Leninist framework. In the first article of the series, Adwait illustrated the ideological confusion and organizational disarray within the Naxal movement in just a few years of its inception. In the second article of the series, he lays out in detail the contours of this ideological confusion. As the reader will realize, Adwait is doing this by relying largely on the lens of Moni Guha- one of the participants of the Naxal stream and founder of the UCCRI(M-L) group. Socialist India would be publishing a series of rejoinders on Adwait’s articles, for the ultimate aim of this exercise is to arrive at a correct Marxist-Leninist outlook on this question, basing ourselves entirely on the historical developments of the last five decades.
The first article of the series can be read here:
You can now read the second article:
One cannot deny, the sacrifice of thousands of young militants that readily leapt into the fire unleashed by the armed revolt. The lack of direction of the leadership and ideological confusion however, failed to channelise the energy of this new generation of footsoldiers willing to make any sacrifice for the cause ,of the “wretched of the earth”.
We now must go on to take a look at the dominant ideological trends of the Naxalite movement.
The line of individual annihilation was put forward, open and mass organising was condemned as revisionism and economism; dependence on the petty-bourgeois intellectual was emphasised and struggles of the factory proletariat weren’t paid heed to. Moni Guha a veteran communist who was also active in the Naxalite movement goes on to say “Whether it be in the formulations on guerilla-war, the war of liberation or in its international-aspects, like, the movement being part of the ‘Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution’ of China or a part of a movement in the “era of final and total collapse of imperialism”. etc., we find that there were grave deviations from Marxist-Leninist teachings.”
In his political-organisational Report at the 1970 Party Congress of the CPI(M-L) Com. Charu Mazumdar (CM) called for individual annihilation and defended the dependence on the petty-bourgeois intellectual.
Charu writes: “The method of forming a guerrilla unit has to be wholly conspiratorial .. This conspiracy should be between intellectuals and on a person to person basis. The petty-bourgeois intellectual comrade must take the initiative in this respect as far as possible. He should approach the poor peasant who, in his opinion, has the most revolutionary potentiality, and whisper in his ears: “Don’t you think it a good thing to finish off such and such a jotedar(Big Landowner)?” this is how the guerillas have to be selected and recruited singly and in secret, and organised into a unit. “(CM-Liberation 1970)
The above excerpt from Mazumdar’s writing makes one wonder whether this is the work of an anarchist or a communist. As this method of organising is eerily similar to the Bakuninist “propaganda of the deed” where terror is seen as a way to arouse spontaneous action of the masses. On the one hand he is calling out the CPI and CPI(M) on “economism”, while he himself is proposing a petty bourgeois terrorist line. He seems to have forgotten Lenin’s teaching that economism and terrorism stem from the same cause, “subservience to spontaneity”.
The whole line was based on an overestimation of forces, nationally and internationally. Further, this estimate was based on a gradualist, linear view of the development of the revolutionary process. (Incidentally, even today M-L groups take such a view, the only difference being that they think that liberation would be achieved in the distant future). This is how Charu Mazumdar put it – “The idea of today’s armed struggle was first born in the mind of one man. That idea has now filled the minds of ten million people. If the new revolutionary consciousness, born only in 1967, can permeate the minds of ten million people in 1970, why is it impossible then for those ten millions to rouse and mobilize the 500 million people of India in a surging people’s war by 1975.” No wonder then that with an incident of rifle-snatching at Magurjan in W. Bengal, it was announced that the People’s Liberation Army had started marching.
These sentimental observations were mistaken for assertive theoretical statements, people under the brunt of age old opression, often engage in militant actions, one has to observe whether it’s a random, sporadic act by an individual or it’s an organised mass action. Revolutionary thought isn’t transferred from one man to another like electricity is transferred from one end of a circuit to another, Marx said an idea becomes true when it “grips the masses”. The role of communists is to tirelessly train the people in the art of insurrection, train them theoretically and practically, so that the idea goes on to “grip” them, and lead them to battle.
Another blunder was fratricidal war conducted on both sides,by the CPI(M) and the CPI(ML) while sympathisers of the radical movement were present in both parties but such actions only helped the ruling class.
Before the CPI(ML) there was the AICCCR, which was mentioned in the previous part of this critique. The faction that broke away from the West Bengal CPI(M) were of a small minority of the party, comprising of mainly state and district committee members such as Charu himself. While in Andhra, leaders of formidable stature like Chandra Pulla Reddy and T. Nagi Reddy who had immense experience in the Telengana struggle, criticised the line put forward by Charu, they were kicked out of the committee for this and branded as revisionists. Kanu Sanyal emphasised that it wasn’t Charu’s line which lead the Naxalbari movement to success, rather that line was voted out on many occasions, still certain careerist elements such as Mahadev Mukherjee buil a cult around Charu which lead to prepostorous theoretical conclusions of the committee and later the party.
There was the UCCRI(M-L) trend, the Dakshin Desh (the MCC), the Andhra group, and all of them criticized one or the other aspect of the left-adventurist movement. On the whole these groups made a one-sided appraisal of phenomena and their criticism was not comprehensive. For all the talk of ‘authority’ by the then united CPI(M-L), the movement badly lacked a center commanding ideological influence, which, in the days to come showed up in the fragmentation of the movement. This one-sidedness and lack of a center equipped with Marxist-Leninist theory was further confounded by the difficult process of cognition of the Indian reality.
Moni Guha, said,“Every step of real movement is more important than a dozen programmes”, wrote Marx and indeed it was the peasant revolt in Naxalbari which again proved it to be so. This revolt came as a bolt of lightning to strike at the programme and practice of the communist parties”
On the one hand errors were made by the left adventurist leadership of the naxalites, on the other hand, it must be acknowledged that errors were comitted by the CPI(M) as well. The most striking one being the participation in the immediate supression of the revolt. This is where Naxalbari really becomes not just an event but a question, a question raised in the realm of praxis. How exactly should a communist party utilise the power it gains in the bourgeois parliament? Theoretically speaking it must be used to further the class struggle, but how much is it allowed to do so in a real situation? The only conclusion that can be drawn here is that a new analysis needs to be conducted, on the experience of participation in parliament and participation in “real movement”.