Questions are also being asked about the whole concept of ‘‘semi feudal’’ relations which was based on the premise that feudalism acted as a social prop of imperialism as was evident during the times of Chinese revolution. The actual transformation of the Indian agriculture undertaken with the abolition of intermediaries or with the emergence of the new class of kulaks and rural proletariat has prompted its comparison with that of the Junker transformation of agriculture in the 19th century Prussia. As is known Junker path or the Prussian path of agrarian transformation focussed on the non-revolutionary manner in which agriculture in the feudal mode could be put on the capitalist path. Lenin’s study on the The Development of Capitalism in Russia has helped initiate debate within the movement to discern the underlying development of productive forces and the changes in production relations in the Indian context. The criteria set forth by Lenin regarding development of capitalism in agriculture namely, extraction of surplus through employment of wage labour, general commoditization and widespread existence of market relations and transformation of surplus into capital for facilitating extended reproduction of capitalism have facilitated this discussion. Later studies have further helped to know the multifarious ways in which capital enters agriculture.
Practical experience of different movements in rural areas also prompted discussion on the characterisation of Indian agriculture. Semi-feudal production relations connote that four class alliance involving rich peasants, middle peasants and poor as well as landless peasants or agricultural workers would come up against ‘‘feudal lords’’. Barring some pockets in far off areas one noticed that it is failing to come up and by and large three class alliance comprising middle, poor peasants and agricultural workers emerging where the middle peasant acted as a vacillating ally of the revolutionary forces.
The concept of ‘‘semi-colonial’’ has also come under fresh scrutiny. Naxalbari happened when the whole world appeared to be taking a new turn when the Indian ruling classes were caught up in the first major crisis in post-colonial India, or when many a capital of the advanced capitalist countries were ringing with anti-capitalist slogans accompanied by large scale mass movements. It was a time when France witnessed student worker uprising in May ’68 or a strong antiwar movement erupted in US or when the growing anti-colonial struggles in many African and Asian countries were sort of providing a living proof that they have become storm centres of revolution or when the tiny Vietnam was delivering death blows to U S Imperialism. Today with the completion of the task of liberation of colonies leading to emergence of independent nation states and with the unfolding of the phenomenon of globalisation of capital it is becoming clear that the old characterisation should be given a fresh thought.
In the Indian context the way in which the Indian bourgeoisie has gathered strength and enlarged its base without unleashing a revolutionary onslaught on feudalism and wihout making a break with imperialism is being noted by everyone. It is true that its success in establishing its leadership over the anti-colonial struggle and its taking advantage of the major developments on the international arena has helped it achieve such a position. The task of decolonisation undertaken by the Indian bourgeoisie to remove colonial distortions from the economy but at the same time making compromises with imperialism and preparing the ground for entering into a partnership with the imperialist capital for the exploitation of Indian people further point to the inadequacy of the older formulation depicting its relationship with imperialism.
The imposition of emergency by the Indira regime which was freightened by the unfolding crisis and growing people’s movement way back in 1975 precipitated questioning process on the ‘‘semi-colonial’’ mode in the revolutionary left movement. It was raised that how a ‘‘comprador bourgeosie’’ which is nothing but ‘‘stooge of imperialism’’ could grant ‘‘limited democratic rights’’ to its people.
It is becoming more and more clear that the 1970 programme which was based on the then existing understanding of interrelationship between feudalism and imperialism and was written in the shadow of the new strides taken by the Chinese revolution needs to be either updated or dealt afresh.
The salient features of the Indian situation also need to be detailed out. It should comprise not only the specificities of the Indian state and society as they have evolved down the years but also incorporate the strength as well as limitations of the revolutionary left’s intervention in terms of theory as well as practice and trajectory of its relationship with other people’s movements struggles.
The texture of times can also be demonstrated by half a century of experiment in bourgeois democracy which has helped strengthen various misconceptions and illusions about this mode of governance. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the situation encountered by the revolutionary left in India today is the unique of its kind wihout any precedence.
The Great revolutions of the 20th century mainly occured confronting a state which was more backward, more barbaric and denied even a semblance of democratic right to its citizenry. The revolutionary left in India has to confront a state which has also learned from the negative experiences of these revolutions for itself and has been able to spread bourgeois democracy by multifarious ways which includes regular election to various representive bodies or granting limited democratic rights to the citizens.
It is also clear that state is very selective in the application of its repressive laws and machinery. Whereas it has for all practical purposes imposed martial law like situations in North East or Kashmir or the various strongholds of the revolutionary left where the police and paramilitary forces have been given tremendous powers in one or the other variant of Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the rest of India it has still been able to largely maintain democratic pretensions with the spread out network of judiciary, executive and legislature at various levels of society.
The uneven development of India with the concomittant existence of various castes, communities and nationalities has compounded the task further in one way or the other. As already mentioned the end of the 20th century has been witness to new types of movements ranging from the dalit, women to issues of sustainable development. And it already been mentioned that the revolutionary left has largely remained on the periphery of these movements. Though at practical level of grassroot politics it has shown lot of innovativeness and creativity by raising the question of izzat and its initial success in central Bihar can be attributed to its realising the importance of this issue but as far as theoretical backup is concerned it seems to be still embroiled in the traditional ‘class reductionist’ framework. The issue of gender oppression and an end to patriarchy has also to be dealt with in a more creative manner.
Looking at the spread of the movement it has already been discussed that it is more strong in those areas where mediaeval forms of oppression still exist or violation of minimum democratic norms is the order of the day. The other part of the story is that it has yet to make a headway in those normal areas where a semblance of democratic apparatus still operates or where the issues of izzat do not exits at mass level or for that matter community or tribal bondage hardly exist.
Its more or less absence from the urban India barring a few pockets in some stray cities or its below marginal presence in the organised working class is definitely a cause of concern.
It is also true that it has to get ready to answer many inconvenient questions which it has till now brushed aside as part of bourgeois propaganda. The human rights movements in this country which has all along protested encounter killings and
violation of democratic rights, has recently raised some questions about the implementation of democratic rights within the movement.
Definitely this is an altogether changed terrain than the one when the first salvos of Naxalbari reverberated throughout India. The revolutionary left has to clearly understand that these are new times which demand a lot of imaginary and creativity and persistence from the torchbearers of genuine left.
The task of building an all India revolutionary communist party needs to be taken up with new vigour. First and foremost fresh attempts need to be done to reverse the phenomenon of splits within splits and unify the various apparently heterogenous formations under a single umbrella. Definitely this will ensue a period of intense debates, discussions and polemical exchanges within the formations to reach a unified understanding of ideological, political and organisational positions. If the movement does not show enough perseverance to undertake these task there is a danger that the movement will not be able to stop its slide into the cesspool of militant economism or right opportunism.
Revolutions happen not only because the objective conditions are ripe or the subjective forces are well organised, the necessary condition for any such situation is that the leading elements should be in a position to provide blueprint of revolution at least at a theoretical level. It has two aspects: Firstly, the leading elements should be able to provide a correct appraisal of the then existing national-internaitonal situation and secondly, they should be in a position to give a scientific and balance critique about the socialist project as it unfolded and future prognosis of the same.
The revolutionary left as it exists and operates today, will have to take up this with right earnest if it really wants to leave its imprint on the 21st century. First and foremost it will have to get to know the challenges presented by the times.
Apart from the earthshaking events like the colonial countries becoming storm centres of revolution Naxalbari happened when under the leadership of Mao Tse Tung the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution had unleashed a historic struggle to save the nascent socialist state from taking a capitalist road. As is history the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was accompanied by formation of revolutionary communist parties the world over which came out of the parent ‘pro-soviet parties’. And in many places these parties had launched armed struggle to follow the Chinese path against their ruling classes who according to them were lackeys of imperialism and epitome of feudal reaction.
Today all that is over. Neither the socialist bloc is to be seen and the then centre of world proletarian revolution China itself has undertaken great strides on the capitalist road. As things stand today the national and international situation is less conducive and more adversial for any movement which claims to fight for social justice and progress.
The revolutionary left needs to understand the changed terrian and its different contours as it is obtained in the beginning of the 21st century to make a correct appraisal of the situation. Essentially it needs to give a fresh look at the three large questions before itself. First, how has the world capitalist system changed over the course of this century and what is the modus operandi of imperialism today. What has been the extensive and intensive changes in the way capitalism operates. Second, how to review and what lessons to draw from the history of socialism as it existed during the twentieth century. And third, what future courses are open to the societies of the third world countries which have made varying degrees of transition to capitalism. What are the prospects of revolution in these countries and what is likely to be the nature and the course of these revolutions. Definitely these are not simple questions and in the present conditions as they are obtained in the revolutionary movement they are largely open questions. Nobody can claim today to have adequate answers to all or any of them. It would be one of the key tasks of the international communist movement to work out these answers.
Summing up it is pertinent to ask what did the Naxalites achieve in their three plus decade old rebellion. And a part of the answer could be provided by quoting Samar Sen, the famous Bengali poet and founder editor of Frontier in his editorial note to ‘Naxalbari and After: A Frontier Anthology’ ‘‘[but] What did Naxalbari achieve in practical terms? The cynic might ask. And it is a difficult question to answer. Admittedly, the Naxalbari raised more problems than they solved. But the very problems they raised and tried to solve in a hurry had never been raised with such a force of sincerity before or after Telengana. That is their achievement.’’
Definitely it has not been an easy task for the Naxalites to break new grounds in the left movement to retrieve the revolutionary essence of Marxism. Of course its pioneers would not have thought that it would prove to be such a tortuous process that lest alone the decade of the 70s which was declared to be a decade of leiberation the beginning of the 21st century would also find them quite far away from their cherished goal of ushering into a People’s India.
The ’90s symbolized the paradoxical situation of the movement in a poignant manner. On the one hand it witnessed escalation of violence on part of the state to contain what it calls ‘ideology clad left wing extremism’ leading to sharp increase in the number of encounter killings or its bold pronouncements about forming a joint command for Naxalite affected areas. On the other hand the phenomenon of internecine killing among different revolutionary groups raised its head with a vengeance in this decade only. While one could trace the genesis of these type of violent internecine disputes in the 80s only it could be make its presence felt in the 90s situataion came to such a pass that the private armies of the landlords like Ranveer Sena could raise their head in Bihar benefitting from the internecine armed disputes.
Of course on the positive side one was witness to new realisation, new appreciation of the changed terrain and the texture of times in whcih the revolutionary left has to negotiate its path and supposedly make break through in the 21st century. The positive reaction and the debate generated in the whole spectrum of the revolutionary left over a study on Globalisation of Capital brought out by CLI(ML) can be called a sign of the times to come.
The importance of international linkages with a vision to form a new international is also becoming more and more clear. There have been quite a few international seminars in which various streams of the revolutionary left participated. Groups like CPI(ML) JanShakti and People’s War also took initiative in organising international seminars in their home country.
The unity of CPI(ML) People"s War Group and CPI(ML) Party Unity under a single banner has also helped embolden the mood among the genuine sympathisers of the movement.
Will Naxalite left be able to get out of this anomalous situaion in which it finds itself today? Will it prove to be real inheritors of the Bolsheviks who ushered us into the first socialist revolution or it will get sucked into the Charkavuva much like the mythological Abhimanyu from Mahabharata who it is said did not know the correct way to get out of the battle? Whether the new century would help the whole spectrum of revolutionary left turn a new leaf in the history of communist movement in the 21st century. The situation is pregnant with tremendous new possibilities. It remains to be seen whether the naxalite left which carved out a place for itself in the postcolonial India in the 20th Century will be able to repeat its feat in the 21st Century itself also.