April 13, 2014
MB and the International Communist Movement

R Arun Kumar

MAKINENI Basavapunnaiah was one of the shrewdest practitioners of Marxism-Leninism in our country. This year we are observing his birth centenary and April 12 is his 22nd death anniversary. MB, as he was called, is one of the best Marxist theoreticians produced by the Indian communist movement. He belongs to that generation of communists who built the Party virtually from scratch into a force to reckon. This was possible only due to a proper application of their theoretical knowledge to the practical conditions of the country. No wonder, one of the most oft quoted phrases found in the writings of MB is, Lenin's: 'concrete analysis of concrete conditions is the living soul of Marxism'. MB closely followed the international developments of his time and also the international communist movement, to enrich his understanding of Marxism-Leninism. He was eager to learn from the various experiences of the communist parties around the world, but never made the mistake of blindly copying them. He was an internationalist in the true sense of the term. Lenin, in his Thesis for an Appeal to the International Socialist Committee and all Socialist Parties, writes: “He is not an internationalist who vows and swears by internationalism. Only he is an internationalist who in a really internationalist way combats his own bourgeoisie his own – social-chauvinists, his own Kautskites”. (Collected Works, Volume 23, Page 209) MB was one of those founders of the CPI(M) who built the Party fighting both right-revisionist and left adventurist sectarian deviations, along with the struggle against the ruling classes in our country. MB was deputed by the Party to represent it in various important international assignments. That he was one of the representatives in the delegation that had discussions with the great Stalin is a known fact. Apart from this, MB also attended the historical 40th anniversary celebrations of the Great October Socialist Revolution in 1957 and was also part of the delegation that took part in the famous meeting of the communist parties held on the sidelines in which 12 parties had participated. The Moscow Declaration proclaimed in a larger gathering of communist parties held in 1959-60, following this meeting, contained some important assessments on the prevailing international situation. Held in the immediate aftermath of the 20th Congress of the CPSU, the decisions and conclusions arrived at that Congress had an enormous impact on the meeting of the communist parties. INTENSE DEBATE It was during this time that the international communist movement was witnessing some intense debate on the assessment of the international situation and the strength of imperialism. The CPSU and the CPC were leading this debate and differed in their analysis, which had a huge impact on the communist movement and even split it. MB observed these debates from close quarters and in order to get a better understanding of the various positions, he personally met Mao Zedong during the 1957 meeting, discussed some issues with him and upon his suggestion visited China to further engage in the theoretical discussions with the Chinese leadership. The ideological debates raging in the international communist movement had their impact even on the Indian communists. The line adopted by the CPSU helped in strengthening the revisionist tendencies in the Party. MB played an important role in countering these deviations and influences. Piloting the discussion on the Programme of the CPI(M) at its 7th Congress in 1964 (first Congress after the formation of the CPI(M)), MB asserted that Indian revolution cannot be a copy of either the Russian model or Chinese path and pointing to the developments taking place in the country, class relations, nature of the State and influence of imperialism over the ruling classes, he concluded that due to the essential differences on all these aspects, the path of Indian revolution would be distinctly Indian. Immediately after the formation of the CPI(M), the Party was forced to fight Left sectarianism that had reared its head. Some of the comrades got carried away with the CPC's analysis of the international correlation of class forces and their suggestions for the path that needs to be undertaken for revolutionary transformation of the society. This resulted in their under-estimation of the strength of the Indian ruling classes and also an over-estimation of the revolutionary situation in the country. The Party decided to immediately address the ideological issues posed by the Left-sectarianism and organised a plenum in Burdwan in 1968. Comrade MB intervened in the course of the discussions and strongly refuted the points raised and exposed their theoretical shallowness. He deftly used the tools of Marxism-Leninism to prove their erroneous reading of the socio-political and economic situation in the country and world over. The Party during this period was forced to take a position against the interference of the CPC in the internal affairs of the CPI(M) and also against certain formulations propounded by the CPC about the international developments, about the internal developments in China and its understanding of the Indian situation. MB played an important role in criticising this un-Marxist approach of the CPC. All through, MB took care to ensure that the Party did not resort to a mistaken approach of out-rightly denouncing both the CPSU and the CPC as not being communist parties. The role of CPSU and the CPC was objectively viewed, their positive contributions appreciated and in a similar vein, their intervention in the internal affairs of the communist parties of various countries was objected and their subjective reading of the international developments contested. Comrade EMS Namboodiripad, recollecting this ideological struggle and the part played by MB in it stated: “For more than a decade and a half we had to fight single-handedly against the determined opposition from the two big giants of the world communist movement – the CPSU and the CPC – as well as from the Congress, the bourgeoisie opposition parties, and the CPI internally. We could face this combined opposition because, firmly rooted as we were in Marxism-Leninism as applied to the concrete conditions of India, we were able to work out independently the strategy and tactics of uniting all the Left, democratic and secular forces against the ruling Congress party for over a decade, and certain other Leftist formations tied themselves to the bourgeoisie opposition parties. It was the CPI(M) alone which could steer clear of all vacillations and evolved the line of the broadest possible unity of the left, democratic and secular forces...Comrade MB's role in this struggle, the leadership he gave in evolving the ideological, political and organisational line for building a mass revolutionary party of the Indian working class, a party that would act as a unifier of the left, democratic and secular forces, will be remembered by history. Mercilessly fighting against all deviations, he did his utmost to strengthen the inner unity of the party”. FIRM BELIEF IN MARXISM-LENINISM Comrade MB was deeply concerned with the developments that were happening during the late 1980s in the former Soviet republics and the socialist countries in East Europe. He initially thought that the communist parties in those countries led by the CPSU, were indulging in a self-critical correction to rectify the mistakes and were in the process of strengthening socialism. But soon, he could see through the theoretical bankruptcy that was being advocated in the name of Glasnost and Perestroika and was convinced that these would lead to a liquidation of the socialist State, if left unchallenged. Closely following these developments, he was among those few who had concluded that what was happening in those countries was not due to the failure of Marxism-Leninism as a theory but a failure in the application of that supremely scientific theory to those societies and in the construction of socialism. It is with this understanding that the CPI(M) expressed its reservations on the theoretical postulations of the CPSU, attending the 70th anniversary celebrations of the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution in 1987. MB played an important role in guiding the drafting of the Ideological Resolution adopted at the 14th Congress of the Party, which was held in the immediate aftermath of the setback to socialism. He actively participated in the discussions and guided the Party in arriving at a correct understanding of these developments that shook the entire world and resulted in many communist parties throwing up their hands and shutting shop. MB was deeply pained to witness the collapse of the Soviet Union and the socialist bloc in East Europe. But he never lost his optimism that had its genesis in his firm belief in the validity of Marxism-Leninism and its supremely scientific character. He remained an optimist till his end. Comrade Sunil Maitra in fact mentions how MB in the course of a discussion with him, minutes before his death on April 12, 1992, expressed his confidence in the ultimate triumph of socialism and the end of capitalism. MB, as we see, was not an “internationalist in word”, but was an “internationalist in deed, even when times are most trying”. He is unlike many proclaimed 'internationalists' of today. Lenin writes in The Tasks of the Proletarian in our Revolution: “Only lazy people do not swear by internationalism these days...There is one, and only one, kind of real internationalism and that is – working whole-heartedly for the development of the revolutionary movement and the revolutionary struggle in one’s own country, and supporting (by propaganda, sympathy and material aid) this struggle, this, and only this, line, in every country without exception”. (Lenin, Collected Works, Volume 24, Pg 74-75) MB till his end, remained a communist, a committed internationalist of this mould. True homage we can pay him is, trying our best to: concretely understand the international developments, analyse their impact on the class relations in our society, analyse how the various contradictions are maturing, formulate our tactics to further intensify them and lead the class struggle to its logical culmination – the establishment of a classless society.