State and "Revolutionaries"




The following article refers to a very recent, in fact ongoing, discussion of the proposed talks between a particular "revolutionary communist group" and the Government of Andhra Pradesh, a province/state in the southern part of India.

To understand the arguments put forward in this article, it is necessary to know the background of Communist organizations in India in general and Andhra Pradesh in particular.

The COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA (hereafter CPI) was formally formed in 1935 and it split into two: CPI and CPI-Marxist (hereafter CPM) in 1964.  Although the reasons for the split relate to aspects like "program", "strategy", "tactics", "path", "line" etc., CPI was considered to be a pro-Soviet party while CPM was considered a pro-Chinese party. CPM used to accuse CPI as "revisionist" party.

In 1968, there occurred another split within CPM when considerable number of leaders and cadres in different parts of India came out of CPM and called themselves "revolutionary communists".

The Revolutionary groups (hereafter "Revolutionaries") declared that CPM had become a "neo-revisionist" party and had given up the cause of revolution. They characterized India as a "semi-feudal and semi-colonial" country and declared that the Indian State represents the interests of feudalism and imperialism and is led by the feudal landlords and the comprador bourgeoisie. "Indian Revolution" would/should take place following the "Chinese path" of "protracted armed struggle". The Revolutionaries declared that the present state should be over-thrown by means of armed struggle based on the four-class alliance (consisting of "the proletariat, the peasantry, the middle class and the National bourgeoisie" as in China), establish initially a New Democratic society followed by a Socialist society (as in China). They declared "Marxism-Leninism-Mao's thought" as their guiding ideology. They are also staunch defenders of Stalin and they agree with the analysis of Stalin by the Chinese Communist Party (that although he made some mistakes, on the whole he was right to an extent of seventy percent). The organizational structure and practices of these parties/groups are similar to that of the Chinese Communist party of the sixties and seventies. These are usually referred to as Maoist organizations or Naxalite organizations since split in CPM coincided with the beginning of peasant struggle in Naxalbari of West Bengal, organized by the "revolutionaries" who broke away from CPM.

In 1969, there were, initially, two major Revolutionary groups in Andhra Pradesh, which subsequently split and further split in a number of smaller groups. Now, there are about a dozen such groups. Each group calls itself a party and the name that all of them carry is CPI-Marxist-Leninist (CPIML). But each group distinguishes itself by adding the name of their official journal, line or some such thing: e.g., CPIML (People's War), CPIML (New Democracy), CPIML (Janasakti), CPIML (Liberation), CPIML (Red Star) etc.

The present article refers to CPIML (People's War), which is popularly known as People's War Group (briefly PWG). This group descends from a Revolutionary group, whose main leader was Charu Majumdar of West Bengal, before the party split into many splintered groups after 1972.

Except for certain specific periods, PWG has been following a political line involving "Annihilation of the Class enemy" (that is, killing of so-called feudal landlords, police and so-called police informers); kidnapping (of government officials, ruling party leaders); burning of buses and destroying other state-owned properties; blasting of special police squads by means of land-mines while the police is in combing operations in the forest areas; forceful extraction of money as donations (from forest contractors, country-liquor contractors and capitalists of various spheres of activity) and purchasing of automatic weapons like AK-47 rifles.

The PWG has been facing severe repression from the State, which established a specially trained brutal force called "Grey Hounds". The state government banned PWG a decade ago. The police resort to indiscriminate killings of PWG leaders, cadres and their sympathizers in the name of Encounters. (The police say that they have received information that the armed squads of PWG have assembled at a particular place and are planning to attack the police, hence they reached the spot and warned them to surrender; the squads instead of surrendering opened fire at the police, the police too opened fire in self-defense and in that "encounter" the squad members were killed and so on. These are popularly known as "(fake) encounters".)

In the course of these actions of PWG and the police, the general rural masses in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh had to face severe repression from both the sides: the police as well as the PWG. The police tortured villagers, accusing them of giving PWG shelter, food and other support, while the PWG harassed, tortured or killed some people suspecting them of being "police informers".

Upset by these actions, a committee called the Committee of Concerned Citizens, consisting of university teachers, lawyers and journalists headed by a retired top ranking state government official, proposed "talks" between the PWG and the government of Andhra Pradesh, with a hope that mutual killings would end and that people would be relieved of repression and some sort of "democratic" atmosphere would prevail.

In response to this proposal, the PWG declared that it was ready for talks and the government too, after consulting all the opposition parties, agreed to hold talks.  While this process was going on, "Vaartha", a bourgeois daily newspaper in Telugu language invited opinions of its readers on "whether talks should be held and if so what should be the agenda". All those who wrote letters to the newspaper welcomed the proposal. Whereas I intervened in the discussion at the end and wrote the following article, which the newspaper published on March 1, 2002.

State and 'Revolutionaries'

The news is that there will be talks between the People's War Group (hereafter PWG) and the Government of Andhra Pradesh (hereafter Government); and the Committee of Concerned Citizens (hereafter Concerned Citizens) has been making efforts for the past four years in this direction.

The cadres of PWG have been killing the police and the leaders of other political parties. They have been resorting to the cruel violence in the name of police informers. The police too, as part of their duty, are killing the cadres of PWG and the people in the villages. In the course of these attacks against one another, both the parties and more particularly the people in the villages have been experiencing great hardships and losses. At least some persons are considering this as inhuman and are anxious to defend the right to life of human beings. But what should the people---who are aware of the task greater than anxiety---do? Criticize both the sides. Expose their wrongs before the people. Make people realize how much should they accept and how much should they reject from a given side. Do whatever is possible for you. Any such right path is applicable here but the path of talks does not apply to this specific situation. In this given situation, one party, whoever may understand it in whatever manner, is a bourgeois government. The other side is a "revolutionary" party that claims itself to be a revolutionary communist. How meaningless are the talks between the two: between a cat and a rat?

Excelling all others, the Concerned Citizens responded with a love for social service and appear to really believe that "talks between the governments, which formed for the sake of People's welfare and the PWG, which was born out of social problems, are necessary and possible". Whoever may have whatever differences with and opposition to the practice of the PWG, no one would deny that it arose out of social problems. Even if it is for the sake of superficial talk, the Government and the opposition parties are also saying that "the problem of Naxalites is a social problem as well".

But if we look at the other party, namely the government, did it form for the sake of people's welfare, as the Concerned Citizens feel? If it is so, then we have to go to the question, namely, "for the welfare of what kind of people" did this Government form? The Concerned Citizens do not raise this question since their ideas are independent of class. Hence in their view all those who appear as people are homogeneous. For them, both the parties are the same. This trend made them (ubhaya kusaloopari) "well wishers of both the parties". The Concerned Citizens wish the welfare of cats on the one side and that of rats on the other side. But, there is nothing to find fault with the well wishers of both the sides. As they are "above classes" they proposed whatever struck them. Further, there is nothing to find fault either with the Government or the opposition parties who consented for the talks. Moreover, we have to congratulate them. What more do they need than the yielding of their enemy---who threatens them with guns---to compromise in the name of talks? Is it not good if the headache from the PWG recedes as much as possible? How can any Government serve its bourgeois public if it does not realize such a small fact? Precisely for this reason we have to congratulate the Government that agreed for talks. The real wonder concerns the PWG. Pity, what happened to it now? It keeps committing blunders numbering not less than "a lakh" every day. But never it does realize a single blunder in the light of any experience. It does not lend its ear even if any well wishers suggest. Moreover it declares with folded fists that whatever it does is revolutionary activity and everything is for the sake of building a new society. What has happened today to the PWG which fiercely aims at building an egalitarian society and aims at making the New Democratic Revolution a success?

What has happened today to the PWG which at every step declares that it would overthrow the exploitative Government by means of armed struggle; that proletarian struggle is its weapon and its war is People's War? Will it hold talks with the Government which it ought to overthrow? What will it talk?

The conditions of the PWG during its talks would perhaps be as follows: "Release the Naxalite prisoners! Withdraw all the cases against them! Stop all encounters immediately! Withdraw the police force! Lift the ban on our party!" The conditions will be either these or other similar demands. Will the PWG be able to demand more than these? At the most, the PWG may ask the Government to distribute the "surplus" lands. As the Government which agrees for the talks should be willing to make some compromise, it may agree to such conditions including the distribution of handful of "surplus" lands.

It is all right with the "surplus" lands; but what about those "non-surplus" lands? What about "capital"? Will they be able to ask to distribute all those things? Or will they be satisfied with the "surplus" lands?

Okay, the Government gives whatever it wants to give; it will do whatever it wants. It will release some prisoners; withdraw certain cases; distribute some useless lands. Let us suppose that it does all these things cleverly and liberally. Then, won't there be anything that the PWG has to do in return to all that? Won't the Government lay down any conditions? Perhaps the demands of the Government will be as follows: "Stop everything that you do in the name of 'movement'! Surrender all your arms! Pack up your land mines and underground squads! Why so many words? We will provide livelihood to all of you. Join the mainstream!"  Won't the Government say so? Will it not lay down such conditions? Won't there be anything that the PWG has to stop or give up in return to the concessions that it takes from the Government?

Without laying down such conditions, will the Government come closer to the PWG, embrace it and say thus: "We agree to all your conditions. Yet we will not lay down a single condition. We know that you are making a great revolution. We will never come in your way. As we distribute the 'surplus' lands, you go ahead happily with the programme of distributing non-surplus lands!" Will the Government say so? Even insane people know that it won't happen like that. Well, what will happen if this does not happen? This is what will happen: The Government will insist and demand that PWG should stop all its actions, which cause headaches.

What will remain for the PWG after it gives up all that it considers as "revolution"? Now, it has, at least, the programme of digging ditches for land mines; the programme of threatening contractors for "donations"; the programme of sending chits to landlords stating that their heads will be chopped off if they don't distribute their lands; the programme of axing hands and feet of "police informers"; the programme of beating the accused to death in the "people's courts"; and the programme of blowing up of trains to create sensation among the public. At least it has the programme of claiming that "all these activities are for the sake of revolution". What programme will there be for the PWG if it gives up all these actions in future? What programme will be there for the PWG except sitting at one place with folded hands?

In fact a police gentleman also asked the same question, didn't he? What did the police officer say about the PWG when he first heard about the news of talks? He said, "Talks? Will it give up its ideology?" This is the question, which anybody (of course, except the intellectuals of the Committee of Concerned Citizens) would raise and should raise! Of course, the social reformers always lag behind the police in their perception! Reformers are always obsessed with decorating the existing society skillfully and they don't have any other programme. Hence it is wrong to mention them once again. Let us leave them there. Let us also leave the PWG behind, along with the reformers, since it is beyond our perception as to what has happened to it.

Well, what has happened to other Naxalite groups who claim that they are more revolutionary than the PWG and their political path alone is correct? Why all of them are unable to see the meaninglessness of the proposed talks? All the groups are immersed in the festive mood of talks! Each one of them is excelling the other in dumping suggestions in their newspapers with regard to talks thus: "Ask the Government about this, about that! Ask the Government to stop encounters! Ask about the problems of tribal people! About unemployment! About separate Telangana!" This is how the other Naxalite groups are releasing such long lists of demands. Further, some of them are suggesting that PWG should put forward another real demand! PWG should ask the Government not to come in the way of revolution, they suggest. A couple of groups are requesting the Government to give opportunity to other groups as well to participate in the talks.

What is this? None of the "revolutionary" groups is surprised at the talks' proposals! They are not asking questions like, "what talks will be there between revolutionaries and the bourgeois Government? What programme will remain for the revolutionaries after the talks?" Moreover, they say that PWG should put forward the demand that the Government should let them carry out their revolutionary activities! These are the suggestions and advices of revolutionary intellectuals!

What, then, should the Government do? The Government has to call its police and tell them thus, "The revolutionaries are making their revolution. Don't go towards them, okay? Don't disturb them, okay?" This is how the Government should tell its policemen. Just as demons should not go towards sages who are engaged in penance! They have to make revolutions only after arriving at an agreement with the Government that it won't come in the way of revolution. This is what it means!

For one thing, we should feel very happy. With their strange arguments, the present day Indian revolutionaries are able to compensate for the absence of that great Telugu comedian Relangi after so many years. Isn't this something that makes us happy?

The summary is: If we look at PWG, it is ready for talks! If we look at other groups, they too are in favour of talks! What does this mean? How much do these revolutionaries know the "class nature" of the government?

If there are "people" who want these talks, they wish so because they are perhaps unable to bear the suffering that they face from the PWG on the one hand and the police on the other. Perhaps, they believe that they can get rid of this menace by means of talks. If people expect talks, what the PWG should do is not sit for talks but rectify all its wrong doings.

Comrades, your tactic of talks will lead you to a situation that you will be unable to raise your head in future. Even if you really rectify your practice in future and be ready to march along the revolutionary path, the ropes of these talks will tie down your hands and feet. The police officer said a long time ago that you are thinking of this tactic with a view to "recover" to some extent. Will the present situation not arise in future even if you really recover and subsequently violate the agreements, which you reach during these talks? Will there be talks a second  time?  You will not have a chance for that.

While dealing with the problems of revolution, one has to think along the revolutionary path but not in the dramatic manner of detective stories. If your strength is receding then control yourselves. You have so far committed an innumerable number of blunders. Your tactic of talks will not be of any use except to lengthen the list of your blunders.

Your former leaders---who were in circulation as great revolutionaries for a very long time, surrendered themselves to police, amassed money from the Government, engaged in business or money lending---are spending their time in making their children happy by not allowing their children to hear the word "Marxism" and by celebrating their birthday functions.

Ask yourselves where the roots are for this degeneration. Realize as to why the enormous sacrifices, adventures and deaths of your cadres are going waste. Realize why the situation remained so unchanged? Find out the reasons for the collapse of Russia and China and why every revolutionary group is splitting into several splinter groups. Realize that poses, self-glorification, boasting, cult of individual---none of these will take you even one step forward. Feeling ashamed of the wrong doings, rectification, theoretical knowledge, unity with other revolutionaries---these alone will save the revolutionary path from its weaknesses.

Let there be any number of mistakes among the revolutionary groups, let them differ widely with one another---all of them have the same objective and goal, however vague they may be. There exists a population dedicated to those objectives. It is the unity of this population that is really needed! Hold talks any number of times to achieve such unity. Try again and again for such unity despite repeated failures. Keep all your hopes on the unity of revolutionaries! It alone is the correct path and the only path!

It is not a crime if we can't step forward but it is certainly a crime to step backwards.

(Translation from Telugu: B.R. Bapuji)

THE RED CRITIQUE 3  (March/April 2002)