April 20, 2014

50 years of the Beginnings of CPI(M)’s Formation

Marxist Imprint on the Unfolding of the Idea of India IN the midst of the flurry of the election campaign, which is getting more surreal by the day (more on this later), sections of the bourgeois press have found yet another occasion and thereby a stick to beat the CPI(M). This occasion is the 50th anniversary when 32 members of the erstwhile united CPI walked out of its National Council meeting and went on to subsequently form the CPI(M). This was on April 11, 1964. Let us take just two of such instances. Both have sought to camouflage their attack under the cover of sounding reasonably sympathetic, dishing out more than `left-handed compliments’. A leading Malayalam daily noted this occasion with a detailed story titled “Policies and failures: CPM wastes half-a-century” (April 12, 2014). Apart from many other issues that it discussed concerning the reason for “Its (CPI(M)’s) fall” is that the Party, “is not able to move forward along with the changes taking place in the nature of classes”. One of India’s leading `pink papers’ editorially commented “Facing history: On its 50th anniversary, CPI-M faces its biggest challenge”. Being asked to face challenges is surely welcome. In fact, this is precisely what the CPI(M) continuously seeks both to identify and meet the newer challenges. However, the editorial goes on to underline: “The CPI-M faces the greatest challenge in its history – the threat of irrelevance”. Why? …. “because its leadership has ignored both changes in technology and the evolving character of the working class”. Before we take up the essence of the issues raised by these critiques, it is necessary to underline that the CPI(M) has always remained conscious of changing times and has consistently upheld the tenet, in fact, adhering to it in practice, that the living essence of Marxism-Leninism is the concrete analysis of concrete conditions. As conditions constantly change, the Marxist analysis has to change accordingly. The failure to do so, in fact, constitutes a negation of Marxism itself – both its revolutionary content and its scientific analytical methodology. It is on this basis that the CPI(M) has all along maintained that Marxism is supremely scientific and, hence, a creative science and, therefore, inherently and intrinsically anti-dogmatic. Yes, of course, there is a need to scientifically study the concrete changes in the movement of various classes in the social hierarchy, especially with the development of capitalism that is superimposed on a pre-capitalist stratified social structure, like, amongst others, the caste stratification and its consequent social and economic manifestations of oppression. But the point being made by these critiques is not this. The focus lies elsewhere. Neo-liberal pundits have all along purveyed that the character of the working class today is no longer what it was under capitalism in the days of Karl Marx. The component of manual labour has vastly reduced both in size and composition. Hence, the slogan given by Marx and Engels for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism through the stirring call “workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains” in the Communist Manifesto is no longer valid as large sections of the working class have now become a part of the system and they have a lot more at stake than being merely under chained bondage to capitalist exploitation. To put it simply, the message of such critiques is the following: since the character of the working class has changed from the times of Marx, Marxism is irrelevant to today’s conditions of a neo-liberal globalised world. Since the CPI(M) refuses to accept this `reality’, it therefore, “faces its greatest challenge – the threat of irrelevance”. Far from becoming irrelevant, the validity of the relevance of Marxism has been resoundingly vindicated in the last six years of the recurring crisis of global capitalism. It is not accidental that the venerable Pope had reportedly ordered copies of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital at Vatican to study and understand the current crisis that devastated the global economy. This, however, is besides the point. The persistence of the continued crisis, in fact, its genesis – both the rise of international finance capital and its hegemonic role in driving the neo-liberal economic order of today’s globalised world – can only be comprehensively explained, hence understood by Marxism alone. The global `Occupy Wall Street’ movement, by no means a product of the organised Communist parties, came to a spontaneous yet independent conclusion that these protests were not against the “faults within the system” but against the “faulty system” itself (capitalism). This is the same seminal revolutionary conclusion that Marxism arrives at. The complete and comprehensive human emancipation can only be achieved when this faulty system is overthrown. For the protagonists of neo-liberalism, this is sheer blasphemy. Hence, the decrying of CPI(M) as `irrelevant’. Further, however much the composition of the working class may change, however much the component of manual labour is replaced by intellectual labour (this is a given truth as the man-nature dialectic continuously keeps upgrading levels of technology in human civilization), the inherent character of capitalism that rests on the backbone of human exploitation by humans remains the essential truth. This is because exploitation takes place within the internal dynamics of the capitalist production process itself. The worker’s contribution to the value of the product that he/she produces, or participates in the process of production of, is always higher than the value of wages he/she commands in the labour market, at every point in time. It is this difference that continuously produces surplus value under capitalist production process which is appropriated by the individual capitalists as profits. Hence, it does not matter if the worker is `intellectual’ or `manual’, the exploitation is universal. Hence, any liberation from such exploitation and bondage can come only with the overthrow of the system. This is the scientific truth that the neo-liberal ideologues would be loath to admit. Hence, the best course is to decry CPI(M) as irrelevant. Another variant of such a critique is to encourage the non-emancipatory objectives and methods of NGOs or other issue based movements that speak of moral uprightness without adversely affecting the foundations of the system’s exploitative order. Hence note the corporate media’s enthusiastic support and coverage of say Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement, or, the disproportionate media coverage of AAP. As opposed to either, the people’s movements and protests organised by the Left parties on the very same issues find scant media coverage, in fact, no media mention. This is because unlike the Left parties, the former do not rock the bottom of the system based on exploitation and oppression. For the bourgeoisie, as long as its foundations are not attacked, all other criticisms from the moral point of view are not merely welcome but considered noble. Hence, they patronise all movements that speak of moral uprightness like `ending corruption’, `honest politics’ etc etc. But the Left, however, needs to be isolated and challenged because it continues to question the system and refuses to accept TINA (there is no alternative). As far as the CPI(M) is concerned, the alternative to TINA is SITA (socialism is the alternative). To our sympathetic critics, we assure that we welcome objective and dispassionate critique of our policies and performance. But those who wish to throw the `baby with the bath water’, we can only say that we simply refuse to oblige. That is why through this entire election campaign which is being rendered more and more surreal, the only voice that keeps constantly raising the issues of people’s concern and pointing out an alternative policy trajectory for building a better India and improving the livelihood of our vast masses, is that of the Left’s. The corporate media has reduced this election battle to an individual choice of a `leader’, more like reading a matrimonial column, rather than the determination of a future government that can follow alternative policies to provide relief to the yearning masses of our people. The growing disconnect between the corporate media’s choice of campaign issues like highlighting the personal comments made by rival `leaders’ and proceed to decry the falling standards of political discourse, or, discuss books released to the perfect timing of boosting sales (read profits) on matters that are of little relevance to the life of the people of real India, or, churn out unscientific, or, motivated “opinion polls” etc. and the real issues plaguing the vast mass of Indian people is, indeed, becoming obnoxious. The tragedy is that the media – the fourth estate of our democracy – is increasingly becoming a partner of this effort that hails peripheral criticism while choosing not to rock the foundations of this morally debasing and inhumanly exploitative neo-liberal regime. Fortunately, the people of India think differently. This is where the CPI(M) will continue to remain not only relevant to meaningful political discourse in the country, but also seek to influence the future policy direction in the interests of creating a better India for all our people.