Khagen Das


[ Following is a shortened version of a lengthy paper on ‘lenin, Stalin and mao on the relationship between democratic and socialist revolutions in the colonial and semicolonial countries’, presented by the author at the Brussels international seminar held in May, 1997 at the initiative of the Workers Party of Belgium. ]


Historical materialism teaches us that social change is brought about through a dynamic process of class struggle, the highest form of which is violent revolution that shatters the prevailing production relation of the existing society. Thus democratic revolution destroys feudalism, that is, the feudal system of production and ushers in a capitalist society with bourgeois democracy as its hand-maiden. Such democratic revolutions in Britain, France, Germany, Austria, etc, were led by the bourgeoisie with the peasantry enacting the central role in the upheaval. In Lenin’s formulation bourgeois-democratic  revolution was mainly an agrianan revolution, which resulted in the unrestrained, and therefore, rapid growth of capilatism. The development of capitalism gathered unprecedented  momentum to reach its Zenith, concomitant with its socio-political and cultural ramifications of higher form which mankind could not dream of.


Thereafter this historical task devolved on the proletariat and its party, the Communist party. Lenin ‘pointed out that it is inevitable for bourgeois democraticism to be half-hearted, limited, narrow.... A decisive victory of the democratic revolution is possible only in the form of revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry.’ In India, Indonesia, Egypt, Algeria, and more recently, in Bangladesh and many countries in Latin America, the ‘Bourgeois democratic agrarian revolution ’ was inevitably half-hearted, limited and narrow in all aspects, and mainly comprador in character, led as it was by the bourgeoisie. Thenceforth it has become the main responsibility of the proletariat to organise and accomplish unfinished bourgeois-democratic revolution.


Lenin affirmed ‘that the peasantry will inevitably become a bulwork of the revolution and the republic and the peasantry is not only the bulwork but active fighters alongside the proletariat’.

In Russia feudal landlords’ economy slowly evolved into bourgeois, junker landlords economy and in America, the main background was transformation of the patriachal peasants into bourgeois farmers. These are the features of bourgeois-democratic revolution.


Regarding the peasant agrarian revolution in Russia Lenin said : ‘‘We must study the objective conditions of the present agrarian revolution in capitalistically developing Russia. Hence in colonial and semi-colonial countries also where capitalism has developed the agrarian revolution or bourgeois-democratic revolution must accomplish first with the national liberation movement. Thus the nation wide peasant movement to exterminate survival of serfdom is the touchstone of the bourgeois revolution. But this bourgeois-democratic revolution will be led by  the proletatiat themselves, hence it has been called ‘New Democratic Revolution’ (NDR). Stalin says : the  movement or struggle of the peasantry helped to transform the peasantry into a reserve and ally of the working class. According to Lenin and Stalin ‘the bourgeois-democratic revolution will give birth to capitalist society which will propel the socialist revolution to its culminaton. Thus the two stages of revolution-democratic and socialist are interlinked, and the two revolutions took a violent form of upsurge coupled with insurrections almost in all urban areas of Russia. The peasants too fought to their might in the countryside against the feudal landlords and kulaks respectively.


Lenin propounded that the victory of Socialism was possible first in several countries or even in one country, taken single, that the simultaneous victory of socialism in all countries was impossible owing to the unevenness of development of capitalism. Stalin says, ‘‘that conclusion work of a genius was formulated by Lenin’’ after concrete analysis of the concrete situation of the countries concerned.


This correct formulation of Lenin was realised in a single country, Russia by October Revolution which made Socialism possible in a single country. Again, according to Lenin the war imposed by the bourgeoisie on Socialism always turns into the war for the liberation of other nations from the bourgeoisie as we found during the Second World War. The outcome of which was liberation of East European countries from the bourgeoisie, and the establishemnt of Peoples’ Democracy.


Lenin asserted : ‘‘class political consciousness can be brought to the worker only from without, that is, only from outside the economic struggle, from outside the sphere of relations between worker and employer. In colonial and semi-colonial countries this class political consciousness is to be brought not only to the worker, but also to the peasantry ‘only from without’ as the latter are the main force of the revolution. At present the genuine communists of the Philippines, Peru, India, Nepal etc. are endeavouring to perform this task seriously.


In present-day world the so-called Marxist intellectuals who are divorced from revolutionary practice, are poisoning the revolutionary atmosphere of the world resorting to obstinate


sophistry of broad-based mass movement to keep the people away from the revolution. What Lenin held high and gave all-round emphasis on the path of violent revolution has also been corroborated by Mao as he exhorted. ‘‘A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence, by which one class overthrows another.’’


In colonial and semi-colonial countries, the anti-imperialist struggle to drive out the imperialists and to make the dependent countries politically as well as economically completely independent of foreign domination is integrated with democratic revolution. Generally, anti-feudal struggle, that is, democratic revolution always predominates because contradiction between feudalism and the great masses of the people becomes the principal contradiction until the imperialists atttack or interfere directly.


The proletarians, peasants and the working masses of the concerned struggling country are the basic masses who will play the main and decisive role in bourgeois democratic liberation struggle. Indeed, Lenin exhorts the communist  organisations of the East to carry on revolutionary tasks, ‘‘..... relying upon the general theory and practice to conditions in which the bulk of the population are peasants, and in which the task is to wage a struggle against medieval survivals and not against capitalism.’’


This is the crux of the nature of the bourgeois-democratic revolution that is, National Democratic Revolution (NDR) in colonial and semicolonial countries. A genuine communist must be prudent to distinguish Lenin’s advice on ‘‘struggle against medieval survivals’’ from ‘‘not against  capitalism.’’ But one should not mechanically follow Lenin's advice being oblivious of the concrete situation prevailing today in the country concerned.

Mao says, ‘‘It was on the strength of their extensive organisation that the peasants went to action and within four months brought about a great revolution in the countryside, a revolution without parallel in history’’. He says further, 'with the collapse of the power of the landlords, the associations have now become the sole organs of authority and the popular slogan ‘‘All power to the peasant assocaitions’’ has become a reality. And these ‘peasant associations’ were the embryonic form of ‘‘Soviet system’’ which are found in present India also. The next stage of Soviet is guerrilla zones, the higher stage of which is the base area. The base area will be gradually expaned and will create a vast liberated zone. Then the cities will be encircled by these liberated zones and , in turn, liberate cities from the enemies and will establish a democratic republic in the country under People's Democratic Dictatorship.


But this is a very prolonged process. And to fulfil this task the Communist Party must organise a people's army and form the United Front to continue the protracted people's war until the bourgeois-democratic revolution which has been significantly termed as New Democratic Revolution (NDR) by Mao, is accomplished and People's Democratic Dictatorship established. Thus economic, political and social basis for socialist revolution emerges. So the NDR is not only the forerunner of the socialist revolution, it is also ready to  propel the Socialist Revolution to its culmination.


Analysing the concrete situation of colonial, semi-colonial and semi-feudal China, Mao has clearly pointed out that the task of the Democratic Revolution entails National as well as Agrarian Revolution. Indeed, Agrarian Revolution is ingrained in  in National Revolution. So Stalin said: ‘‘The bourgeois-democratic revolution in China is a combination of the struggle against feudal survivals and the struggle against imperialism.’’ It is evident that the agrarian revolution is the basis of the bourgeroius-democratic revolution.


Mao tse-tung correctly observed that the historic manoeuvre  of ‘‘The long-term survival inside a country of one or more small areas under red political power completely encircled by a white regime is a phenomenon that has never occurred anywhere in the world’’. This is possible only in a semi-colonial and semi-feudal country like China or India or Nepal or Philippines or Peru having a localized agricultural economy (not a unified capitalist economy). And it is possible if the nationwide revolutionary situation continues. Besides, the existence of a regular Red Army of adequate strength is a necessary condition for the existence of  a Red Political Power.


Mao emphasised that peasants are the basic masses who under the leadership of the proletariat will play the main role in the People's War. He also affirmed that the masses of China's peasantry and urban petty-bourgeoisie are the main forces in the revolutionary war. But in the era when the proletariat has already appeared on the political stage, the responsibility for leading China's revolutionary war inevitably fell on the shoulders of the Chinese Communist Party. This is Mao's another innovation calling the Peasantry and the petty-bourgeoisie the main forces in the revolutionary war, and this is certainly a contribution to Marxism-Leninism. According to Mao while reactionary forces are very strong,   revolutionary forces grow only gradually, and this determines the protracted nature of revolutionary war. So the protracted   people's war is Mao's great discovery of strategy in semi-colonial and semi-feudal country.