Theorizing the Indian path to socialism & beyond: CPI-M's draft ideological resolution

Deepak R. February 29, 2012

The ideological and political stand of CPI(M) is viewed with keen attention, not just by its members, but also by anyone keen on Indian politics.Last time the CPI(M) adopted a full-fledged resolution on ideological issues was in 1992 after the collapse of erstwhile USSR and the eastern block. Now, after 20 years, the party feels that it is time to have a reassessment of its ideological reading; taking into account the roller coaster ride that history has underwent in these two decades.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist), with a membership of over 1 million, is the largest among the left parties in India. Hence the ideological and political stand of CPI(M) is viewed with keen attention, not just by its members, but also by anyone keen on Indian politics. The fact that CPI(M) places in public domain its resolutions on ideological and political issues makes it possible for anyone interested to follow the evolution of the same. The political resolutions are discussed, revised and adopted during the 'party congress' that happens every three years and published as a single document. Ideological resolutions, on the other hand, are revised only after a major shift in international or national political situation. Last time the CPI(M) adopted a full-fledged resolution on ideological issues was in 1992 after the collapse of erstwhile USSR and the eastern block. Now, after 20 years, the party feels that it is time to have a reassessment of its ideological reading; taking into account the roller coaster ride that history has underwent in these two decades.

Indeed what an eventful ride it has been! Uncle Sam is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world ever since The Kremlin knocked himself out. Afghanistan and Iraq were his victory marches. Capital now moves between nations faster than light. Stocks and derivatives were built and blown apart like a house of cards. Economics professors are back to books - analysing the crisis of capitalism. Political theorists are on the edge of their seats - watching the 'pink tide' in Latin America, 'jasmine revolutions' in the Arab world, and occupations of the wall streets in US and Europe. Historians are in giggles, murmuring about a guy who said that 1992 was the 'end of history'. Indian history too was eventful these two decades. Babri Masjid demolished in 1992. Communal tension threatened India's secular fabric. Riots, blasts, genocides. Lotus bloomed in the Indian Parliament in 1996, Ram entered the courtroom in 2011. India joined the neo-liberal bandwagon in 1990s. GDP growth rates are followed like cricket scores. Employment growth rate or school enrolment growth rate never makes news. Domestic and foreign IT sector becomes the dream destination for the Indian elite. Farmers are topping the suicide charts. Mining and SEZs are displacing entire communities. Left extremists are rated as the biggest threat to Indian state. Corporates are dictating terms to political parties. Corruption figures have touched the 13-digit mark. Government is stepping back from its social obligations, and NGOs (foreign and domestic funded) are rushing to fill that void. There is hardly anything that money can't buy - sports cars to medicine seats to pampering news to votes to ministerial berths. But sure, some things never change in India - 59% of our children are stunted and 43% are underweight. Caste atrocities and honour killings are reported every other week, and most men still have no idea what it takes to run a home.

It is in this backdrop of history, that we have to understand the points in the Draft of 'Resolution on Some Ideological Issues' (abbreviated as DIR henceforth) that CPI(M) has put out for discussion. It is a very terse summary of the party's diagnosis and prognosis of the world situation, and a prescription for treatment. An attempt to summarise it further always runs the risk of oversimplification. But still, that is precisely what is attempted here, in hope that this only serves as a motivation to read the entire document and not as a secondary reference to points in the same. Though the author's opinion, prejudice and wish-list will inevitably creep in at places, this is not to be considered as a critique to the document or a list of suggested amendments. By the way, the CPI(M) has invited amendments to the DIR and anyone can post the same till the 15th of March.

The inner workings of imperialism

After the first section of Introduction, the DIR moves on to give a concise analysis of the economic order of our times in Section II. The section is invaluable even if just for the concepts it defines : imperialism, globalisation, speculative trading, international finance capital, neo-liberalism, surplus and primitive accumulation of capital. The section tries to point out how all these phenomena of our times are natural outcomes of the single point agenda of capitalism which is maximisation of profit. Probably the maximum stress in the section goes to two things. One is to advance Lenin's understanding of imperialism as an advanced stage of capitalism, identifying international finance capital as its prime mover, globalisation as its post-colonial modus vivendi and neo-liberalism as its modus operandi. Second is the identification of primitive accumulation of capital, an analytical category used by Marx to describe the outright expropriation of natural resources like water, energy, land, minerals, radio spectrum etc. by capitalists, often aided by the bourgeoisie state, as the prime cause of large scale displacement, migration and impoverishment of entire communities and also its identification as the hidden cause behind mega scams in developing countries like India. It is the scale of this primitive accumulation which might explain why left extremists in India's mineral rich lands constitute the biggest enemy of the Indian state, and why corruption scams touch the 13-digit mark. Even when one admires the quality of analysis in this section, one is a bit dismayed that CPI(M)'s own attempts to aid primitive accumulation in Singur and Nandigram does not get a mention, at least so as to elucidate the differences.

Soviet era poster with Mayakovsky's famous quote: 'Lenin Lives, Lenin Lived, Lenin will live! Soviet era poster with Mayakovsky's famous quote: 'Lenin Lives, Lenin Lived, Lenin will live! Image Courtesy:

Military might and ideological indoctrination

Section IV explains how imperialism tries to retain its world domination through the two-pronged approach of military might and ideological indoctrination. Outright military intervention, by international finance capital using the armies of US and NATO, to retain regional control and access to oil was witnessed in the direct occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and in the aiding of right wing fundamentalist forces to topple governments in Libya and Bahrain. The section asks us to be mindful of the fact that wherever imperialism succeeded in affecting a regime change, it only created space for ultra rightwing, often religious extremist forces by systematically attacking the Left and progressive forces. The most common ideological offensive mounted by imperialism is its equating of democracy with 'free market'. Imperialism's double filter of where to look and what to look for is also exposed in the section. It points to the selective glorification of one bourgeoisie value of 'liberal democracy' to the point of using it to justify outright rejection of another bourgeoisie value of 'national sovereignty'. Similarly it also exposes the hypocrisy in imperialist ideology of seeing the 'human rights' violations in Libya, while turning a blind eye to the same violations in its allies like Saudi Arabia and also to the violations by its own military apparatus in various countries. Another ideological offensive designed by imperialism is the repeated attempt to equate communism with totalitarianism and fascism. Socialism is presented as the antithesis of imperialist definition of 'human rights' and 'universal human values'. The section also points out to how there is convergence of information, communication and entertainment technologies into mega corporations, and the role of this monopolisation in aiding the ideological offensive of imperialism. It reads: "This monopolisation of the sphere of human intellectual activity and the control over dissemination of information through the corporate media is a salient feature of this period that seeks to continuously mount an ideological offensive against any critique or alternative to capitalism". Imperialism's ideological offensive is also particularly targeted at Marxism as an analytical and predictive tool. The signature of such attacks is elaborated in Section IX where it explains how the concepts of postmodernism and social democracy are advanced in an attempt to invalidate Marxism. Point 9.4 in that section is one of the most concise description of postmodernism that one will ever get to read. "Post-modernism is a bourgeois philosophical outlook which arose out of the success of the late 20th century capitalism and the reverses of socialism. It questions all the values of the Enlightenment and rejects any philosophy or politics which is universal and dismisses them as ‘totalizing’ theories, Marxism included. Post-modernism does not recognise capitalism or socialism as a structure or system. Thus it is a philosophy suited for global finance capital as it negates class and class struggle."

Capitalist Crisis

The spread of class consciousness as opposed to mere economism among trade unions, the existence of a strong party, and the formation of larger mass alliances with peasants and other exploited sections is what will become the 'subjective factor' that can effect the revolution under ripe objective factors created by capitalism itself.

Section III is a very focussed attempt to prove that the present economic crisis witnessed in the advanced capitalist countries is a structural consequence of capitalism and not the outcome of individual greed or lack of regulation. This is in tune with the classical Marxist reading of capitalist dynamics. The section explains the phenomena of demand crunch, credit financing and speculative trading which results in periodic crises under capitalism. It also criticises the process of converting corporate insolvencies to sovereign (national) insolvencies by bail out packages and then imposing austerity measures on the working class to reduce the state fiscal deficit. It then moves on to ask the classical Marxist question of whether capitalism will tide over this crisis or will there be enough political power with the working class to overthrow the system and socialise the means of production. Many post-marxists have tried to argue that the nature of capital and labour has undergone fundamental changes (intellectual labourers, managers) since the time of Marx, that such a conflict of interest, and consequent workers' unity leading to an overthrow of the system is no longer possible. The section argues that this argument is flawed because the structure and composition of labour makes no difference to the process of exploitation. The section also cautions against the belief among a few sections of arm-chair Marxists that the capitalist system will collapse automatically. The section is clear in stating that the crisis of capitalism will create the 'objective conditions' for the collapse, but it needs concerted effort from the working class through class struggles and mass struggles to actually effect the collapse. The spread of class consciousness as opposed to mere economism among trade unions, the existence of a strong party, and the formation of larger mass alliances with peasants and other exploited sections is what will become the 'subjective factor' that can effect the revolution under ripe objective factors created by capitalism itself.

20th century socialist projects

Section V, titled partly as 'The Period of Transition' analyses the experience of the socialist project of 20th century, mainly in the former USSR and the eastern bloc. The analysis is done with an evident indent to draw the contours of 21st century socialism. The section reminds the readers of the faster pace and qualitatively higher advances made by socialism in a backward country like Russia and then goes on to state that a resulting misplaced confidence in the irreversibility of the socialist model and self destruction of capitalist model was an important reason for its collapse. Another major flaw of the 20th century socialist project that the section points to is the false belief among its players that once socialism is established, the transition to a classless, Communist society would be linear and automatic. This was evidently an indifference to Marx's warning that the period of transition would witness not the extinction of class conflicts but their intensification, with world capitalism trying to regain its lost territory. The section notes that the success or failure of the forces of world socialism in this struggle is determined both by the successes achieved in socialist construction, the international and internal correlation of class forces and their correct assessment. It is made clear that though there are invaluable lessons to be learnt from the 20th century experiments, the 21st century socialist project of transcending capitalism cannot be a repeat of it. It also notes that this transition, even though inevitable in the final historic vision, can be brought about only through a protracted struggle. It exhorts the Communists, the working class, and all progressive sections to work for the hastening of this process through the intensification of class struggles, in respective countries, while asking them to be mindful of the fact that imperialism will continuously seek to push such an eventuality even further back. A more detailed depiction of the 21st century socialism in Indian conditions is postponed till Section VIII. Before concluding, Section V lists out the major contradictions of the present world order under a subsection titled 'World Social Contradictions'. The four major contradictions in the present period as recognised by the International Communist movement are (i) the fundamental contradiction between labour and capital, (ii) the contradiction between imperialism and the people of the developing countries, (iii) inter-imperialist contradictions (which once resulted in two world wars, but which currently looks muted) and (iv) the central contradiction between imperialism and socialism. The devastation brought to the climate and environment under capitalism is identified as a consequence of the fundamental contradiction of capitalism between the social character of production and the private character of appropriation.

What are the socialist countries up to?

After the analysis of erstwhile Socialist countries, the DIR moves on to analyse the present situation in existing socialist countries, primarily the People's Republic of China. It is acknowledged in this section that every single Socialist country have embarked on a course of economic reforms to meet the challenges posed by international finance capital driven globalization. While accepting that negative tendencies like rapid widening of economic inequalities, corruption, nepotism etc have surfaced during the reform process in all these countries, it points out that these have already come to the notice of the respective ruling communist parties and necessary efforts to tackle, contain and correct them are under way. But the section is non-committal on the outcomes of these reform trajectories. It stops short of making a judgement, and instead, leaves the room open for speculation by asking a list of questions: (i) Is this process of reforms resulting in the negation of socialism as measured by the people’s ownership of the means of production and the social appropriation of surplus as against the individual appropriation of it? (ii) Is this process of reforms leading to the emergence of an exploitative capitalist class that develops the potential to lead and succeed in a counter revolution in the future or, whether this process of correlation of these forces under current reforms, in today’s world realities, will lead to the consolidation and further strengthening of socialism? The reason for not attempting to answer these questions is probably out of the understanding that every socialist revolution, based on a concrete analysis of concrete conditions, works out its own approach. Apart from China, the other socialist countries, viz., Vietnam, Cuba and North Korea only gets a brief mention, so much so as to note that some form of reform is under way in each of these countries. It sounds ironical that CPI(M) still includes the autocratic North Korea in the list of socialist countries even after they dropped every mention of the word 'communism' from their constitution in 2009, though the same constitution commits itself to socialism.

Analysis of the Chinese situation is detailed and spans 20 bullet points. It points to the peculiarities in the Chinese Communist Party's (CPC) ideological manoeuvres like taxonomising the current phase of development in China as the 'primary stage of socialism', the advancement of the idea of a 'socialist market economy' and the dropping of the concept of imperialism. The DIR also views with suspicion the CPC's decision from 2002 to admit capitalists into the party. It points out that the pro-market reforms undertaken has brought about rapid economic growth in China and claims that such growth acceleration was possible not because China 'broke from the Maoist past' but because it developed on the solid foundations laid by the People’s Republic of China during the first three decades of centralised planning. It also points out to the fact that although private sector has expanded rapidly in this period, the public sector is still the major player in most sectors and has full control over the strategic sectors. The section also points out to the economic inequalities and corruption that grew during the reform period. It notes that "in the ten years from 1997 , a period which saw the remarkable economic boom, the share of workers’ wages in national income fell from 53 percent to 40 percent of the GDP". This is how the section sums up its stand on the Chinese experiment: "During these three decades of reforms China has made tremendous strides in the development of productive forces and economic growth. A consistent 10 per cent plus growth rate on the average over a period of three decades is unprecedented in the entire history of capitalism for any country. However, this very process has clearly brought to the fore adverse changes in production relations and therefore in social relations in China today. How successfully these contradictions are dealt with and how they are resolved will determine the future course in China."

Indian path: People's Democratic Revolution & Beyond

It also notes that this double barrel manoeuvre requires a continuous vigilance against deviations of two kinds - one being the revisionist deviation of relying only on parliamentary activity, thus, neglecting class struggles through mass mobilizations and the other is the adventurist deviation of negating parliamentary democracy itself and adherence to a strategy of immediate armed struggle against the State.

With this wealth of lessons from around the world, the DIR moves on to outline the contours of 'Socialism in Indian Conditions' that it struggles to establish. Section VIII titled as and entirely devoted to it. It may be kept in mind that, for a communist party, socialism is only a transitional state from the exploitative capitalist system to the class-less communist system. Hence, socialism must establish its superiority over capitalism in achieving higher levels of productivity and productive forces based on the principle of transition from, ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his work’ eventually leading towards a Communist society where the principle of ‘to each according to his need’ would prevail. Most of the section is presented as an answer to the question: "What does socialism in Indian conditions mean?". It forewarns that no blueprint for the same can be detailed till the People's Democratic Revolution is successfully completed and lessons learned are put to table. With this warning, it presents a partial list of its salient features. (i) Socialism in Indian conditions means providing all people food security, full employment, universal access to education, health and housing. (ii) 21st century socialism will mean the attainment of true people's power through a strengthened democracy. Under socialism, democracy will be based on the economic empowerment of all people and not just on illusionary formal rights granted by the bourgeois democracy. (iii) Socialism in India will mean the end to caste and gender oppression and the attainment of equality among all minorities and marginalised sections. (iv) Multiple types of ownership of means of production, like state controlled, collective and cooperative, will coexist under a centrally planned policy framework. (v) The market is bound to exist as long as commodity production exists

CPIM Election Campaign in Kerala CPIM Election Campaign in Kerala.
Image Courtesy: Hindustan Times

The road to achieve these aims in India has to be chosen based on a thorough analysis of the concrete conditions prevailing in India. Section X, the last in the document is the output of this analysis. The DIR states that the party will strive to achieve the socialist transition in India by peaceful and powerful mass struggles. It emphasises that a revolutionary advance can be made in India only by combining parliamentary and extra parliamentary forms of struggle. It also notes that this double barrel manoeuvre requires a continuous vigilance against deviations of two kinds - one being the revisionist deviation of relying only on parliamentary activity, thus, neglecting class struggles through mass mobilizations and the other is the adventurist deviation of negating parliamentary democracy itself and adherence to a strategy of immediate armed struggle against the State. This possibly draws out most clearly the line between CPI(M) and the other left parties in India. The Marxist reading of Indian parliamentary system, cited from CPI(M)'s party programme is illuminating. It reads: 'Although a form of class rule of the bourgeoisie, India’s present parliamentary system also embodies an advance for the people. It affords certain opportunities for them to defend their interests, intervene in the affairs of the State to a certain extent and mobilise them to carry forward the struggle for democracy and social progress.’ The DIR adds a note that the growing power of big capital and the entry of big money into politics and the growing criminalization of politics is distorting and undermining the democratic process. The section then goes on to emphasise the importance of worker-peasant alliance and working class unity in effecting the socialist transition. In fact, the inability of the working class to foster a strong alliance with the peasantry is noted as a major weakness of the present Indian situation. The section also describes how more and more of the labour force is pushed into the casual and contract work creating a huge sector of unorganised labourers but falls short of making any concrete suggestions on the praxis for organising in the unorganised sector. The section moves on to warn against the threat to class struggle, the only form of struggle that is potent to transcend capitalism, originating from identity politics in general and caste based mobilisations in particular. The role of NGO's in advancing the politics of identity is also noted. The section also highlights the need to continue the struggles against social oppression, patriarchy and communalism. It also makes a relevant note on nationalism. It asserts that "the defence of national sovereignty and anti-imperialist nationalism is an important aspect to rally solidarity of the exploited classes and strengthen class unity in the struggle against imperialist globalisation."

The antagonist stands exposed, trying to break free from the trap it created for itself, with all its tentacles in fine view.Soviet era poster declaring 'Death to Global Imperialism' The antagonist stands exposed, trying to break free from the trap it created for itself, with all its tentacles in fine view.Soviet era poster declaring 'Death to Global Imperialism'

Thus,it is after 157 bullet points that we reach the concluding section. The DPR concludes by reiterating that the CPI(M) will use the analytical tool of Marxism-Leninism to understand the concrete situation and that it firmly believes that the fundamental direction of human civilization is towards Socialism. It also reiterates that the CPI(M) is mindful of the role of the 'subjective factor', the worker-peasant alliance, workers' unity and class conscience in effecting the revolutionary advance once the 'objective factors' are ripe. Finally it reiterates that the party will guard against all deviations and firmly uphold the revolutionary content of Marxism-Leninism.

The DPR concludes there. But the revolutionary task before the left is far from conclusion. Hence let me conclude this summary by quoting the very first point - point 1.1 - from the document.

"The current global crisis of capitalism, more intense in many of its manifestations than the great depression of the 1930s, has once again resoundingly demonstrated capitalism’s inherent oppressive and exploitative character. This crisis is imposing greater miseries on the vast majority of the world’s population. This crisis is also increasingly demonstrating that imperialism, notwithstanding all ideological efforts to obfuscate its existence and role, is leading global capitalism in this offensive against humanity. Thus, imperialism’s quest for global hegemony is the fountainhead that continues to deny humanity its complete emancipation, liberation and progress."

Perhaps, the revolutionary task begins here. The antagonist stands exposed, trying to break free from the trap it created for itself, with all its tentacles in fine view.

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ദീപക് - നല്ല ഒരു

ദീപക് - നല്ല ഒരു അവതാരിക..വിഷയത്തെ നിസ്സരവല്‍ക്കരിക്കാതെ ലളിതമായ ഭാഷയില്‍ അവതരിപ്പിച്ചിരിക്കുന്നു! സി പി എം വിരോധം മാത്രം മുഖമുദ്രയാക്കി വെക്കുന്ന ബുജികളും അവരെ കൊണ്ട് നടക്കുന്ന മുഖ്യധാര മാധ്യമങ്ങളും മൂടി വെക്കാന്‍ ശ്രമിക്കുന്ന പല കാര്യങ്ങളും പറഞ്ഞിട്ടുണ്ട്. ഇന്ത്യയിലെ ഇടതുപക്ഷ പ്രവര്‍ത്തകര്‍ ചര്‍ച്ച ചെയ്യേണ്ട സുപ്രധാനമായ ഒരു രേഖയാണ് സി പി എം ലഭ്യമാക്കിയിരിക്കുന്നത്.. എന്നാല്‍ മലയാളത്തില്‍ ചിന്ത വാരികയില്‍ പോലും ഈ പ്രമേയത്തിന്റെ പരിഭാഷ പൂര്‍ണമായി വന്നിട്ടില്ല എന്നതാണ് സങ്കടം! ഇതില്‍ ചര്‍ച്ച ഉയര്‍ന്നു വന്നില്ലെങ്കില്‍ പിന്നെ നല്ല നാളെയ്ക്കയുള്ള സ്വപ്‌നങ്ങള്‍ വെറും സ്വപ്നങ്ങളായോ അല്ലെങ്കില്‍ വേദനിപ്പിക്കുന്ന വ്രണങ്ങളായോ മാറിയാല്‍ ഞെട്ടാനില്ല കുറ്റം പറയാനില്ല..

ചിന്ത വാരികയില്‍ വന്ന പരിഭാഷ.

രാജീവേ, ചിന്ത വാരിക പ്രമേയത്തിന്റെ പരിഭാഷ നല്കിയിട്ടുണ്ട്.(അദ്ധ്യായങ്ങളുടെ തലക്കെട്ടുകള്‍ പരിഭാഷക്കിടയില്‍ നഷ്ടമായിട്ടുണ്ട്.)

ആദ്യത്തെ മൂന്ന് അദ്ധ്യായങ്ങള്‍:
ബാക്കി അദ്ധ്യായങ്ങള്‍ :



Great Effort

Deepak, a very good attempt. I would like to provide some comments :

1) It would have been good if more explaination of the inner workings of Imperialism was entioned. Especially the 5 characteristics of Imperialism, and how the definition still holds good and could be enhanced with the new stage inside Imperialism that of Globalization.

2) The mentioning of Singur, Nandigram under the "primitive accumulation (expropriation)" needs a rethink by the author considering the changed land relations in WB, cry for employment generation by the young generation of farmers and that majority of the farmers wanted that project in Singur (though there were oppositions also). In nandigram, an initial plan was made public as though it was decided and later CM himself gave assurance of not taking land in nandigram, still things went to that extent is a cause for deep thinking why it happened, if anybody was behind it?
Despite party and govt had accepted as mistakes openly. This article on the changing land relations in WB (a state under a power centre) is a must read to view things at a higher plane -

3) Also mentioning it as "CPI(M)'s attempt" is also erroneous as there should be differentiation between Party and Govt.

4) Some of the concepts like Post Modernism could have been briefed in couple of sentences to a first time reader. Especially the aspect of how it undermines class by these new theories and manipulating the objective reality with references to external articles.

5)Lastly appreciate the effort by the author to explain the 55 page ideological resolution document without missing any point, same time making it very short..

Great going Bodhi for having undertaken this very important task.

Re:2) Surya Kanta Misra

Re:2) Surya Kanta Misra article is exactly what Prabhat Patnaik has exposed as the cancer of empiricism, esp in sections of the Bengal party. The brushing aside of alternatives to industrialization as "utopian", an offhand mention of capitalism tending to destroy petty production because of pre-capitalist relations, a strange insinuation that Tata Nano opposition is inter-capitalist rivalry against "flagship technology" -- if they are not tendencies to be fought in the DIR, then what is? True, rectification documents have addressed some of the 2nd order organizational and tactical issues, but there is a absolute dearth of clarity of approach esp at the state level, where the democratic left have this periodic, ornamental and ineffective custodianship of the Indian state. We can pretend as if Singur and Nandigram are inventions of a grand alliance, or face up to the challenges ahead.

Regarding WB

Dear Rajeev,

There is no question of strategy here. Since Left Govt being in power is using its position to advance the declared strategy. The article clearly mentions
"While the solution to the present problems of petty production does not lie in corporate agriculture promoted by neo-liberalism, it is utopian to talk of “cooperatives and collective forms” (if those are to mean cooperative or collective farming) as an immediate
alternative direction for the Left movement." (Under line the part it is utopian to talk of co-operatives and collective forms as "immediate" alternative). It doesnot at all mean co-operatives and collective forms as such is utopian. He proceeds to say:
"Following the cataclysmic changes in the international polity and economy in the early 1990s, the discussion in the CPI(M) on “Certain Ideological Issues” concluded that production relations have to correspond to the degree of development of the productive forces."
(under line the correspondence of production relations to the productive forces).
Read it along with the points mentioned initially as the change in land relations (though very very limitedly) that occured under the State Govt in a Country like India where the Centre is all the more powerful.
The basic feature of Left Govt in WB is that the land and tenancy reforms were accomanied with "Non-land inputs — for example, irrigation, credit, improved seeds, fertilisers, extension, and marketing facilities"

We have to now examine closely the section "Features of Agrarian crisis" due to the neo-liberal policies how it has its huge effects on all states irrespective of the state level policies and priorities since the share of the states is decreasing whereas the problems concerned in ever increasing. The basic point that now arises is after 2 or 3 generations of the land reforms, the land got fragmented considerably. With the declining level of resources of the State, even collective or co-operative models which require huge amount of non-land inputs and loans at subsidised rates has become unsustainable is the reality. This has to be seen with the relentless fight by the Left against the Centre-State relations and against Imperialist globalization and the neo-liberal policies.

And employment generation in manufacturing sector has declined in WB as in other parts of the country with an increase in the service sector which neither results in technological upgradation or increasing productive capacities. The so called employment generation occuring in this sector is unorganised (insecure, no-worker rights) where exploitation is at the peak. Industralization and value addition hence becomes all the more important along with (under line along with not moving away from) strengthening public sector, encouraging small and medium sector enterpises and co-operative models in production. The youth or the latest generation don't want to stay in agriculture (since agriculture is fetching very less income and its physically more tiresome) and adequate employment generation had to be generated. When the state resources are very limited under the present neo-liberal state, Industralization was necessary by inviting private capital.

The basic thing to remember here was to have a concensus among the farmers for land acqusition and countering all the mallicious campaign by the opposition forces. There occured failure and mistakes here.

Nandigram as I already said, when the CM told categorically addressing a huge rally that land would not be acquired, how things grew to such an extent???

Empiricism which Prabhath Patnaik talks about is forgetting the strategy itself (strategy of people's democratic revolution at this stage) or moving away from the strategy. Here the existence of Left Govt was based on improving living standards and employment generation was acrucial point in this. Under the present neo-liberal state (even before this the continuous discriminations against WB govts were well known), this task becomes very difficult making our strategy itself more difficult. Hence the policy directive and thought process was very much to advance our strategy itself of bringing the basic classes and our allies closer to us and taking care of their immediate needs. Practical mistakes in implementing it along with various factors addressed in Lok Sabha review by CC of 2009, made section of these basic classes who supported us to move away which resulted in a huge setback that has now caused a blow to the advance of our strategy. But nevertheless such defeats will also give us an opportunity to identify and correct our mistakes...

not a question of strategy, however..


First of all, who claimed there is a question of strategy here? I certainly didn't - at least not in the sense you're referring to it.

It looks like you have misread Patnaik's critique. Please go through it again (luckily it is still available online at In particular, the sections where he talks about stage thoery, forces behind the empiricisation tendency of the party). I am not going to summarize his arguments since I wont be able to do justice to the nuances of his writing, however I'll just quote these couple of lines:

It follows that there are powerful forces in the current situation that push the Left t­owards empiricisation. The Left has to resist this push; it has to overcome empiricisation if the socialist project is to be carried forward. It must not only carry out struggles on the burning issues of the day wherever it can, undeterred by the empiricisation-dictated tactics of defending Left-led state governments whom such struggles may embarrass or threaten, but it must, even while running such state governments, ensure to the best of its ability that new ways are always innovated to advance the interests of the basic classes, to improve their material conditions so that their capacity to resist increases. All this is not easy, but the Left has to come to terms with this problem; and I believe, based on my reading of the Kerala LDF experience, that it is possible for the Left to come to terms with it.

To compare this with the formulation you are espousing here (a narrative that typically involves "practical mistakes in implementing it (the correct strategy) has lead to a setback", "The youth or the latest generation don't want to stay in agriculture", "adequate employment generation had to be generated", "Industralization was necessary by inviting private capital", and so forth..) is a study in contrast. What you presented here is exactly the stage-theory that Patnaik refers to, and then some! Typically these formulations pay lots of lip-service to terms like neo-liberalism, jobless growth and PDR. As if, acquiring agricultural land forcibly using "eminent domain" rules is done for the benefit of the peasantry, as if SEZs are going to create a strong working class vs. the "insecure service sector" (Nirupam Sen's lengthy note on the dream behind Haldia-Nandigram petro chem investment region comes to mind!), as if the lean production line for Tata Nano is actually going generate more employment than those peasants who are displaced (Asim Dasgupta's poll promise of "jobs" against Amit MItra, comes to mind!), as if the massive tax concessions provided to investors in the name of "industrialization of the state" is done to combat the neo-liberal paradigm imposed by the Central govt.


Dear Deepak,

Question is whether Singur or Nandigram is result of such an empiricisation or not. We can say more alternatives could have been though of and tried , fine but that doesn't negate in any way the need for Industralization and employment generation. The article explains the evolved situation in WB and the changed land relations and the new challenges thrown in front of them. You are not relating the crisis in agriculture as part of the neo-liberal policies as well as the land fragmentation occuring as generations pass by. Still land reform project has not been stopped in anyway, the amount of land distributed has only increased. There are efforts by the Govt to encourage public sector, small scale industries, co-oepratives etc. But to what extend?? WB is one of the highest or the highest population dense states in the country. You cannot compare WB with Kerala where economy is surviving hugely on the Gulf money and the receipts from other Non Resident Keralites. Moreover most of the keralites go outside for white collar or services jobs and lesser daily wage jobs, whereas more and more Bengalis migrate outside WB in search of better daily wage jobs.

How can you not increase the level of productive forces corresponding to the changing relations of production? Land reforms is NOT a Socialist project, neither a small state govt can bring in socialist reform in one state. Land Reforms is very much a Capitalist project implemented in the advanced capitalist countries whereas here the land reforms being done was from above with landlessness and tenancy a reality. It is in this view a state govt within its limited capacity has changed the existing relations drastically when compared to the existing land relations in other states. with the change in land relations, you have to better the standard of living of the people, you have to generate employment. Try employment generation through co-operatives, public sector, small scale industries etc. maximum within the state capacity (these remain the primary focus and has remained the primary focus, you have misread Surya Kant Mishra's terming of co-operatives and collective as utopian as "immediate" left alternative)but if that state capacity is limited, that should not stop employment generation or providing basic goods of the "basic classes" for which only alternative is private capital.

And even Left comes to Centre, it is not that ONLY public sector will be there and no private capital, even PDR coming, it is not that we will nationalise everything or wont allow any private capital, even if socialist revolution succeeds, its not that we not have any private capital. All these situations depend on the International corelation of the class forces, dominance of which modes of production existing, political-economic alternatives available at international level, level of consciousness of the people etc. But these doesn't in anyway is an acceptance of inevitability of private capital in anyways. It is matter of what practical approaches and what best approaches within existing alternative at a period of time we can implement so as to advance the situation towards revolution.

What abt Ford Company signing agreement with USSR in 1929 which was on the lines of the new economic policy drafted by Lenin in 1921? Here you have to clearly differentiate between the neo-liberal policies being pursied by the politicla parties represneting the big bourgeosie, bourgesoie-landlord parties and the policies of Left govt.

The following Lenin's theorisation explains:

"Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 33, p. 58, emphasis added. Lenin further states: ‘Capitalism is a bane compared with socialism. Capitalism is a boon compared with medievalism, small production, and the evils of bureaucracy which spring from the dispersal of the small producers. In as much as we are as yet unable to pass directly from small production to socialism, some capitalism is inevitable as the elemental product of small production and exchange; so that we must utilise capitalism (particularly by directing it into the channels of state capitalism) as the intermediary link between small production and socialism, as a means, a path, and a method of increasing the productive forces.’ (Collected Works, Vol. 32)

But, does this mean the restoration of capitalism? To this Lenin answers quite candidly during the period of the NEP (new economic policy): ‘It means that, to a certain extent, we are re-creating capitalism. We are doing this quite openly. It is state capitalism. But state capitalism in a society where power belongs to capital, and state capitalism in a proletarian state, are two different concepts. In a capitalist state, state capitalism means that it is recognised by the state and controlled by it for the benefit of the bourgeoisie, and to the detriment of the proletariat. In the proletarian state, the same thing is done for the benefit of the working class, for the purpose of withstanding the as yet strong bourgeoisie, and of fighting it. It goes without saying that we must grant concessions to the foreign bourgeoisie, to foreign capital. Without the slightest denationalisation, we shall lease mines, forests and oilfields to foreign capitalists, and receive in exchange manufactured goods, machinery etc., and thus restore our own industry.’

Lenin, while talking of state capitalism and emphasising the need to rapidly expand the productive forces, also warned of the risks to the socialist state that such a period of transition will bring about. Characterising the process of building state capitalism as a war, Lenin says: ‘the issue in the present war is – who will win, who will first take advantage of the situation: the capitalist, whom we are allowing to come in by the door, and even by several doors (and by many doors we are not aware of, and which open without us, and in spite of us) or proletarian State power?’ (Collected Works, Vol. 33, p. 65)

He proceeds further to state: ‘We must face this issue squarely – who will come out on top? Either the capitalists succeed in organising first – in which case they will drive out the Communists and that will be the end of it. Or the proletarian state power, with the support of the peasantry, will prove capable of keeping a proper rein on those gentlemen, the capitalists, so as to direct capitalism along state channels and to create a capitalism that will be subordinate to the state and serve the state.’ (Collected Works, Vol. 33)

Lenin himself noted on the 4th anniversary of the October Revolution: ‘Borne along on the crest of the wave of enthusiasm, rousing first the political enthusiasm and then the military enthusiasm of the people, we expected to accomplish economic tasks just as great as the political and military tasks we had accomplished by relying directly on this enthusiasm. We expected – or perhaps it would be truer to say that we presumed without having given it adequate consideration – to be able to organise the state production and the state distribution of products on communist lines in a small-peasant country directly as ordered by the proletarian state. Experience has proved that we were wrong. It appears that a number of transitional stages were necessary – state capitalism and socialism – in order to prepare – to prepare by many years of effort – for the transition to Communism. Not directly relying on enthusiasm, but aided by the enthusiasm engendered by the great revolution, and on the basis of personal interest, personal incentive and business principles, we must first set to work in this small-peasant country to build solid gangways to socialism by way of state capitalism. Otherwise we shall never get to Communism, we shall never bring scores of millions of people to Communism. That is what experience, the objective course of the development of the revolution, has taught us."

But basic question as Lenin addressed is who it will help in a state controleld by Proletrian class. In india its a small less powerful State Govt with very much inadequate resources to meet thr growing needs of people and find alternatives for the growing crisis in agriculture which threatens to reverse the achievements itself

These are the justifications

These are the justifications placed forward by the Communist Party of China to justify is Socialist Capitalism - Com. Sitarm Yechury wrote an article too (Chinese Revolution: Evaluating The 60 Years).

Quoting : Further, in 1985, addressing some of the apprehensions of growing inequalities Deng Xiaoping says: "As to the requirement that there must be no polarisation (read growing economic inequalities), we have given much thought to this question in the course of formulating and implementing our policies. If there is polarisation, the reform will have been a failure. Is it possible that a new bourgeoisie will emerge? A handful of bourgeois elements may appear, but they will not form a class.

These mechanical communists see people as robots or so. Prabhat Patnaik wrote an excellent article on this (I think Left in Decline). People are not dolls or robots. Communist China is following Socialist Capitalism after all these years (starting from worker harassment, it has all the ugliness of capitalism, european countries workers are better treated, take Nike, take Wallmart, could see the horror in China). If CPM whose presence is limited to a couple of states tries to follow CPC model, people will throw us out. That is the difference. CPM's ideological documents predictably do not have a word about Chinese workers rights violations, forced land acquisitions, work life balance, minimum wage, etc. etc.

Com. Yechury's article,

Com. Yechury's article, Chinese Revolution: Evaluating The 60 Years : Clearly, the CPC is in the midst of a serious effort of building socialism with Chinese characteristics. The CPC is endeavouring to rapidly expand the productive forces and, thus, consolidate and strengthen socialism in China through these reforms. On the other hand, as noted above, this very process engenders certain tendencies which seek to weaken or even destroy socialism. As a result, ideas and values alien to socialism will also surface. Imperialist finance capital is there in China not to strengthen socialism but to earn profits and to create conditions of adversity to socialism. They would certainly seek the weakening of socialism or its dismantling in order to earn greater profits. This is the current struggle between imperialism and socialism that is taking place in the theatre of China. And, in this struggle, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Chinese revolution, the efforts to strengthen and consolidate socialism will receive solidarity from us and the Communists the world over.
When the National People's Congress (NPC), the Chinese Parliament and top legislative body, convenes in Beijing on March 5 for its annual session, it will be bringing together not only China's most powerful political leaders but also some of the nation's wealthiest individuals. The net worth of the 70 richest delegates at the NPC, the country's 3,000-member legislative house, rose by a stunning $11.5 billion last year, according to a new report from Hurun, a Shanghai-based company that publishes a Chinese rich-list every year.

Corruption and inequality

According to the Hurun, 173 individuals, representing 12 per cent of the list, serve on government advisory bodies. Among them is Zong Qinghou, chairman of the Hangzhou Wahaha Group, a beverage company, who is China's second-richest person. Others include heads of real estate companies, steel companies, construction giants and financial enterprises. Their appointment to government bodies, Hurun noted, “handed them a powerful platform in a business climate which values official contacts.” The practice of bringing in China's wealthiest individuals into political advisory bodies largely began during the previous Jiang Zemin government (1993-2002). It served two purposes. For the party, giving the business elite a voice in policy decisions was seen as a way of securing their political support. For the businessmen, there was “strong incentive to become ‘within system' due to the relative weakness in the rule of law and of property rights,” as Victor Shih, a professor of Chinese politics at Northwestern University, told Bloomberg News, which reported on Hurun's findings last week.

(300+ Crorepatis in Indian Parliament is nothing to worry about.). The way Chinese Communist Party is taking and the way CPM is taking needs deeper analysis. All these mechanical theoreticians come up with all kind of nonsense. Communist Party comes as a savior of the downtrodden, going by the China - inorder to build a capitalist society with the same party at the helm. സോഷ്യലിസം പറഞ്ഞു എന്ത് വൃത്തികേടും കാണിച്ചാല്‍ ചിലവാകുമെന്ന അവസ്ഥ ഭീതി ജനിപ്പിക്കുന്നതാണ്.

Crony capitalism in China?

Crony capitalism in China?

Deepak, Insightful without


Insightful without being dense!- Both the Master and the Mirror.

The Revolutionary task begins here, ofcourse! It is in many ways a " new beginning for the climber" . Does the Resolution announce "the new route" or it remains silent? Maybe, it is not meant to. If it was, it probably falls short to explain "how different a path are we going to take since the last resolution". Or am I missing a point?

Bala (BK)

Quoting Prabhat Patnaik

Quoting Prabhat Patnaik :

But while stagnation may tend to induce empiricisation, both stagnation and empiricisation cannot be dissociated from the broader international context within which the CPI(M) has had to operate. The collapse of the Soviet Union has dealt a massive blow to the socialist project; and even though the CPI(M), as a disciplined party, has not suffered in terms of an erosion in its ranks, the damage to the core of its inner convictions is undeniable. The natural tendency has been to repose faith in China despite all misgivings about the trajectory it is following; and the remarkable economic “success” of China has bolstered such faith. In the process, however, the party which once had the courage to take on ideologically both the Soviet U­nion and China, because, respectively, of their Right and Left deviations, has been remarkably reticent in expressing any rese­r­­vations in public (notwithstanding per­vasive private reservations) about China’s development from a socialist perspective. What is more, China’s apparent “success” has created a tendency within the party for accepting economic policies, such as providing incentives to corporate capital in states where it is in power, which would have been anathema some years ago. I­ndeed, within the overall context of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the most potent factor behind the empiricisation of the party has been the influence of the C­hinese example.

CPM has been very lenient in criticizing the existing communist countries. CPM should regain the courage to take on its own deviations and the deviations of other communist countries. As Deepak pointed out I too felt a void in not mentioning Singur/Nandigram.

Thanks a lot for publishing this.

Also, there are a lot of spelling mistakes in this article. It would be great is a little more care is taken while publishing. Spelling mistakes are as follows :

Under "20th century socialist projects":

* "higher advances made by socialism in a backward country like Russia and then goes [[own]] to state that a"

* the contradiction between imperialism and the [[peoples]] of the developing countries

Under "Indian path: People's Democratic Revolution & Beyond":

* Socialism in India will mean the end to [[cast]] and gender oppression

* The section then goes [[own]] to emphasise the importance of worker-peasant alliance and working class unity

* In fact, the inability of the working class to foster a strong alliance [[with the with the]] peasantry is noted as a major weakness


Thanks Pearl for comments and the spelling corrections. I have incorporated them.

Intellectual Stimulation

Communist parties with good set of intellectuals have no difficulty writing intellectually stimulating documents. New one is no different. Revolution does not come from armchair revolutionaries who just write and speak. It needs peoples movement. Party leaders are far way from people. With rise of middle class in Kerala, it is not going to be corrected any time soon. Every party congress talks abt the correction. No correction in the ground. Sorry to say, in Kerala CPIM is a liberal democratic party.

death of imperialism

By doing some lip-service, you cannot defeat a system. a viable people-centeric alternative has to tried. However, no one is coming forward to do that. All the talks about an alternative starts with marxism and ends with it.


#13. Crony capitalism in China?, Pearl, 4 years ago

#9. *like*, rajeev, 4 years ago