Published fortnightly from Kolkata
Vol. 51 No. 5 October 15, 2017
In this issue
On the explosive Rohingya problem
Comrade Provash Ghosh’s call on Fifth August : Do not let the inner struggle of the Party slacken in any case
Comrade Salil Chakraborty breathed his last
On the explosive Rohingya problem
Tens, rather hundreds, of thousands of Rohingya, fled recurring persecution in the recent years in the Rakhine (named since 1982, formerly called Arakan) province in western part of Myanmar (formerly Burma, renamed in 1989). It became a massive exodus of hapless downtrodden people, men, women and children who had faced the worst type of genocide engineered by the Myanmar government, army and their cohorts. In predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, nearly 1.1 million population of the Rohingyas belonged to an ethnic minority group, mainly Muslims, but including few Hindus. In the last few decades, more so in 2016 and in August 2017, about half of this population fled Rakhine, their home for centuries, by land or by the sea, mainly to Bangladesh, also to Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and even India, in Jammu or Muslim majority districts of Delhi, Telangana, Assam, West Bengal and North Bihar.
These wretched victims of severe onslaughts, still shudder at the nightmare of how the army or the masked men– allegedly Buddhist nationalists, armed with guns and machetes shot at or beheaded male members of the village even without sparing a single of them. With the horrible pain of seeing their near and dears being brutally murdered, fired upon or hacked before their eyes, the survivors ran for life looking back at their villages being looted, ravaged and lastly burnt to ashes. Villagers were asked to part with their valuables and then killed. A jewellery owner handed over everything to save his life; he was then dragged out of his home and hacked to death. Women were mercilessly raped, the ‘fortunate’ ones dropped back on the village road, half-dead, others ending up with their throats slashed. When asked by the media, the infamous military junta officers bantered with cruel smile : Did you see those women? Who would rape them? Salvaging whatever they could, mostly empty-handed, villagers still alive fled the scenes of massacre to spend days without food, water or shelter. In masses with horror-stricken faces, vacant eyes and bodies tending to succumb any moment, streams of humans, men-women-children, sick or old, walked for miles and miles to reach a place where they may have to go hungry, but at least can sleep without fear. En route on land, when hunger overwhelmed them, they would pull out plants from the soil and look for worms in the ground; when thirsty they drank straight from the brackish stream, often turbid. When and where they chose to take up dangerous journeys across the sea, they had to pay a lot to the smugglers and human traffickers knowing full well they may not survive. Yet the choice was to try to flee certain death.
In its entirety this anti-Rohingya violent onslaught, involving ghastly murder in thousands and exodus in several hundreds of thousands, has come out as unpardonable ‘crimes against humanity’– carried out as part of a notorious ‘campaign of ethnic cleansing’. It demands two-fold actions: immediate stoppage of atrocities and providing relief to the refugees and finding out a long-lasting solution of the issue . But before going into that we need to know who these Rohingyas are, why they are being attacked and by whom.
Presently Myanmar, which also includes Rakhine, the land of the Rohingyas, earned independence from the rule of the British imperialists in 1948, immediately after India had become independent in 1947. Bangladesh, of which Chittagong district is adjacent to Rakhine (rather Arakan as it was known at that time), was initially East Pakistan. It earned its present independent status in 1971. All the three, India, Myanmar and Bangladesh, now exist as sovereign capitalist states. Before the British imperialists annexed different parts of this region at different times to their British Indian empire, this area was divided, as elsewhere in the world, into several kingdoms. Thus the mainland of the then Burma was ruled by the Burmese king belonging to the Bamar (or Bumar) Buddhists. In the Arakan Province separated from the mainland by a mountain range there was a distinct Arakan Kingdom since 1430. The Arakan kings ruled also over adjacent Chittagong for long spells in the 16th and 17th centuries till the Mughals restored their authority in 1666, only to lose Chittagong to the British in 1770. The Arakan kingdom maintained nearly 350 years of independent existence till it was conquered by the Burmese Bamar king in 1784/5, to be defeated by the British in 1824 in the first Anglo Burmese War. The British first included it in 1826 in the Bengal Presidency by the Yandaboo Treaty between the British colonialists and the Burmese king. Following the second Anglo Burmese War the British rulers annexed Arakan to Myanmar in 1885.
The Rohingyas (etymologically Rohang is derived from the word ‘Arakan’ in the Rohingya dialect and ga or gya means ‘from’) claim that apart from the Arakan Buddhists, now known as Rakhine Buddhists, there was a sizable population of the Muslims in the Arakan or Rakhine since the fifteenth century itself. The Arakan or Rakhine Buddhists, in their turn, were politically and culturally distinct from the Bamar Buddhists. Language and culture of this Rakhine province was somewhat different also from the typical language and culture of Bengal (now Bangladesh and West Bengal of India), though the two were closely linked. The main language of the Rakhine people, both Muslim and Buddhist, is a variation of the Chittagong dialect of Bengalee which has incorporated a lot from the Myanmar language. The two communities, along with very few Hindu Rohingyas, were in perfect amity in the Arakan kingdom and had fought many battles together against their enemies from different kingdoms of Myanmar and India. At present, they also use the official language of Myanmar. But the Myanmar government, its army and the dominant Bamar as well as Rakhine Buddhists, brand the Rohingyas, as Bengalis. During the first Anglo-Burmese war the Muslims from Chittagong, and partially also from Noakhali, mostly poor villagers, had provided logistical support as “Lashkars”, that is labourers carrying loads, for the advancing British army. The British continued after the 1826 Yandaboo Treaty to engage them as labourers to develop the Rakhine land for the imperialist rulers and help in their commercial ventures in mining, felling of teak trees and building roads and bridges, as pawns in the rapid spread of the colonial mode of production. They were also made to settle in Arakan in the same way as the adivasis or other labours were made to work for and settle in the British owned tea gardens of Darjeeling and Assam. Once settled they made Rakhine their home to spend generations there.
The British occupation thus brought about significant demographic changes to the Rakhine state. In the 1872 census the British rulers recognized those Muslims living in the Rakhine before the British rule as Burmese Muslims and those living since the British advent as the Indian Muslims. This disturbed the hitherto prevailing amity and solidarity of common people in the Arakan or Rakhine kingdom. First, the Rakhine Buddhists became apprehensive of being outnumbered. Second, the census report also fragmented the Rohingya Muslims themselves into Burmese and Indian verieties. The same British rulers, however, provided arms to the Myanmar people as well as the Rakhines and the Rohingyas later during the second world war when the Japanese conquered Myanmar from the British, though temporarily, and the latter needed the locals to recapture it.
History of the Rohingyas in independent capitalist state of Myanmar
Independence brought in further changes. There had been no powerful anti-imperialist freedom movement in this part of the British Indian empire. Only such a movement could have united and integrated the large number of ethnic and religious groups living there into a modern nation. Instead in absence of such a movement Myanmar nation developed as a loose conglomeration of ethnic-religious varieties which were later included in the long list of 135 ethnic groups. The transfer of power was also achieved through compromise between the British imperialists and new born and weak Myanmar capitalists, that too in an era when crisis-ridden decadent imperialism became further crisis-ridden after two world wars. The Myanmar capitalists thus could get hold of the political power of a still underdeveloped state which was characterized by the combination of a loosely congregated nationhood, its decades-long self-imposed isolation from the outside world much because of its wide mountainous terrain in the east, north and west, with the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea to the south for a smaller stretch, the unresolved constitutional structure of the new-born state grading into a hybrid civilian-military political structure and a streak of xenophobia much because of isolation present in much of its elite, the ruling capitalists. Myanmar capitalist state was thus engulfed in acute all-out economic-political-social crisis right from the start. In their bid to consolidate this state, the ruling capitalists belonging largely to the dominant Bamar Buddhist community shunned the desired path of developing geographical integration through developed communication, and socio-cultural movements to bring about unity and integrity of people cutting across race-religion-ethnicity. Instead they fanned up parochialism and separatist outlook under the garb of national reconstruction. The economy was crisis-ridden and the society strife-torn. In this background the Myanmar capitalists targeted the enterprising Rohingyas as the cause of the plight of Myanmar people. Unable to stave off the crisis, the military junta led by General Ne Win seized power for the ruling Myanmar capitalists in 1962 and drew up the agenda for protecting and serving the aggregate and aggressive interest of Myanmar capitalism. They nationalized all industries thus consolidating the available capital in the hands of the state and its capitalist rulers. As a cover up measure and with a view to keeping people disunited to thwart any possible surge of democratic movement, the junta further fanned up the hostility in the Myanmar people against the entire community of Rohingyas.
Rohingyas reduced to statelessness through coercive military administrative measures
Since independence Myanmar’s successive governments refuted the Rohingya’s historical claims and denied the group recognition as one of the country’s 135 ethnic groups. Instead the Rohingyas were and are branded as illegal immigrants from undivided Bengal. Does it stand to reason that an entire community of more than a million people living for centuries in the country and as an integral part of its history, is entirely made up of illegal immigrants? Neither the central government or the Bamar Buddhists, the dominant ethnic group constituting the major support force of the Myanmar capitalists , nor the Rakhine’s dominant ethnic Buddhist group recognize the term “Rohingya,” that surfaced in the 1950s. Is it not equivalent to wiping out an important part of the history of the Rakhine , and for that matter, also of Myanmar? Can any civilized person with a modicum of democratic sense support this unhistorical, unjust parochial move of ethnic cleansing? The military junta, which seized power in 1962 not only kept this vile approach of the ruling class alive. With the country plunging in deeper crisis , the military junta government introduced a law twenty years later (in 1982) stripping the Rohingya of all access to full citizenship.
Until recently, the Rohingya had been able to register as temporary residents with identification cards, known as white cards, that the junta began issuing to many Muslims, both Rohingya and non-Rohingya, in the 1990s. The white cards conferred limited rights and were not recognized as proof of citizenship. Still, such cards did provide some recognition of temporary stay for the Rohingya in Myanmar. The 1982 Act replaced the term Arakan with Rakhine and excluded Rohingyas from citizenship. Consequently, Rohingyas found themselves as second class associate citizens. Even though the UN-backed national census that the government undertook in 2014, permitted to identify the Muslim minority group as Rohingya, under pressure from the ruling class and the hard-liner Buddhist nationalists, the Rohingyas were registered as the Bengalees and asked to furnish evidence of three generations’ continuous living in Myanmar for eligibility as naturalized citizens; their white cards and voting right were cancelled in 2015. The vast majority of the Rohingyas living in Myanmar thus were made to lose all legal documentation, effectively making them stateless. The entire community was marginalized by such heinous design of the ruling Myanmar capitalists and its army, giving effect to the design at the behest of the ruling class. Using 1826 as the “cut off” point for grant of citizenship, the Myanmar government has effectively institutionalized discrimination against the ethnic group also by imposing various restrictions on marriage, family planning, employment, education, religious choice, and freedom of movement. Moreover, Rakhine is Myanmar’s least developed state, with a poverty rate of 78 percent, compared to the 37.5 percent national average, according to World Bank estimates. Widespread poverty, poor infrastructure, and a lack of employment opportunities in Rakhine have exacerbated the cleavage between Buddhists and Muslims. In such a situation, the ruling Myanmar capitalist class and its military made the Rohingyas stateless by the coercive administrative as well as military power. They, along with the majority community, brought down upon them vicious orchestrated attacks repeatedly since 1978, and of late in 2016 and the last in August 2017. Several hundreds of thousands Rohingyas were forced to flee their homeland. With power resting with the army generals, the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, the well-known leader of Myanmar, simply parroted the official narrative of ‘fake news’, even ‘fake rape’, and the egregious lie that the Rohingyas are burning down their own villages before fleeing to Bangladesh. Her words in her Nobel acceptance speech that Whenever suffering is ignored, there will be seeds of conflict, for suffering degrades and embitters and enrages has turned out to be a cruel foretelling of the present reality.
In the face of such continued and severe oppression and in absence of a proper correct leadership to guide the oppressed Rohingyas, their movement for democratic rights and demands was led astray. In the 1950s a section of the Rohingyas gripped by racist, separatist approach, tried to launch a fight for their autonomy using the term Rohingya to legitimise their fight. Later, the recent onslaughts of 2016 and 2017 on the Rohingyas were triggered apparently by a series of self-defeating attacks on the security posts by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an organization of the Rohingya militants.
Capitalism, the devil behind, unrelentingly weaves the design of driving cleavage among oppressed masses
Myanmar people in the Rakhine, and of course in the mainland, may have been swayed by their ruling class and the army. But it is high time, that at least the right-thinking section of Myanmar people with a minimum democratic sense recognize certain irrefutable truths. First, in these days of tottering capitalism- imperialism, the moribund world system is bringing down vicious attacks on people, wherever possible, all over the world in a thousand and one ways. On one side, the system is unrelentingly giving way to the intense all-out crisis, economic as well as social-political-cultural-moral-ethical. On the other side, the capitalists-imperialists, the rulers of every imperialist-capitalist state, are thrusting the entire burden of the crisis upon people, fleecing them to their skeleton. At the same time, frantically they try out every possible means of creating division among the vast multitudes of toiling people, so that they may not stand united against the capitalist system and its rule in their respective countries. Stealthily or loudly, the design works on and on, changing place and technique. In consequence, people find violent ethnic strife, fearful fundamentalist communal genocides, mindless terror acts that end only in spurt of counter violence from the ruling dispensations in the name of curbing terrorism and maintaining law and order. Whatever be the immediate ignition, in the ultimate analysis all these are manifestations of capitalist design, all these are filled with virulent venom of bringing division among the masses of toiling people. It is only by overthrowing the capitalist system and establishing a system that does not rest upon exploitation and oppression of people, can such venom be neutralized and stopped from vitiating the society, though that does never mean that there is nothing to be done to end any crisis cropping up now and then.
Second, the Rohingya issue can not be judged in the proper light on the anvil of history and reason until and unless it is considered with this class angularity and outlook. Only this can unveil the heinous inhuman design of bringing deep-seated disunity among different communities of Myanmar people mooted by the ruling Myanmar capitalists and being given shape to by its army in the aggregate interest of the class aided and abetted by their subservient parochial separatist agents.
The saner section of Myanmar people require to look at the issue from this class angularity and come out of the spell cast upon them by the ruling capitalists and their subservient agents.
Capitalist-imperialist hawks keen to reap harvest from the grievous humanitarian issue
A look at the response of capitalist-imperialist powers underlines further the importance of class approach. As said, the Rohingya issue is clearly an outcome of number one British imperialist design of plundering Rakhine which only sowed seeds of disunity, discussed earlier. The second is the design of the Myanmar capitalists after independence to bring about disunity among its people so that they may not stand united against the crisis-ridden system. Now through the years the issue has reached a stage that transgresses Myanmar’s boundaries. It is affecting neighbouring ASEAN countries with huge masses of migrants desperately looking for a refuge there. Besides the organization like the ARSA formed by a section of the Rohingyas is reportedly tending to grope for help from more powerful forces, thereby causing concern about rise of fundamentalism or separatism in southeast Asia, hitherto less affected. If this design is not thwarted, it will be allowed to create a fertile ground for imperialist powers to give effect to their other intrigues in Myanmar and its Rakhine province. In fact, there are allegations in the air that external global players are already active behind the Rohingya issue to undermine southeast Asian stability, with the keen eye of imperialist hawks on the vast reserves of hydrocarbons located offshore of the Rakhine province.
For instance, silent on the humanitarian crisis centred on the Rohingya issue, the US imperialists, ring leader of imperialist brigandage have long since been trying for the earliest chance to take root in this country fighting out China and to exploit its natural resources. Thus the Council of Foreign Relation’s (CFR) 2003 document entitled “Burma: Time For Change,” announced that “democracy… cannot survive in Burma without the help of the United States and the international community.” George Soros, a US tycoon, joined a US Task Force group aimed at increasing “US cooperation with other countries to bring about a long overdue political, economic and social transformation in Burma [Myanmar]”. Incidentally Soros is known for his efficiency in hatching designs to incite and activate divisive elements based on religion, ethnicity etc.
The ASEAN member governments like Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand as also Myanmar have yet to ratify the UN Refugee Convention or its protocol and thus lack established legal frameworks to protect refugees’ rights. In some recent moves, these states have come to an agreement with the Myanmar government on humanitarian relief effort in Rakhine. But that too is in principle, its details are yet to be ironed out. Even the latest agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar on repatriation of Rohingya refugees by which Myanamar agrees to take them back, is really no more than a statement of intent , without defining a time frame and without any reference to the problem of citizenship that gave birth to the present statelessness of the Rohingyas.
The UN Secretary General has called upon Myanmar to stop military operation in the Rakhine and facilitate the return of refugees, and seek a negotiated settlement of the citizenship issue. But it does not stand much prospect considering the past experiences with the Myanmar government on UN proposals and the credibility the UN itself enjoys as an independent organization free from the influence of the US imperialists.
India and China are the two major Asian, rather present-day world powers which also acted pathetically. China, now an imperialist power, competes with the United States for influence in Myanmar and has backed Myanmar‘s efforts to safeguard “development and stability”, virtually supporting and endorsing the steps and policies of the Myanmar rulers.
India, an immediate neighbour and a growing imperialist power, is only keen to side-push China and extend its sphere of influence. Thus when its Prime Minister Modi visited Myanmar recently, he did not care to touch upon the barbaric attack and genocide perpetrated by the Myanmar government and its army on the Rohingyas, who form an integral part of the country’s population. Besides, in response to the Supreme Court’s questions in a PIL filed, the Indian government termed the entire bulk of 40,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees with 16,000 registered, as illegal immigrants and a ‘threat to national security’, on the ostensible ground that some of them are linked to terror groups. Thus trampling upon its obligation to international laws and all humanitarian values and considerations, the Indian govern-ment pleaded to the Apex Court and the leaders of the ruling party BJP started campaign for wholesale deportation of 40,000 Rohingyas. Knowing full well under which condition these refugees had to helplessly flee their country, the BJP-led union government feel no compunction in thrusting them back to that hell without ensuring with the Myanmar government to enforce security for them. How, on the ground that some Rohingyas may have terror links, can the government ‘simply paint’ every Rohingya as a terrorist? The government has challenged ‘justiciability’ of the Rohingya issue and called it a matter of executive concern. Can debate on ‘justiciability’, that is legality, outweigh humanitarian concern for children, women and the sick? The stand of the India government could be termed as neither humanitarian and truthful nor wise but outrageous.
Unavoidable tasks ahead : Only formidable people’s movement embracing all sections of oppressed people can create required pressure to stop atrocities
Under the circumstances the immediate necessities are as follows. Wherever the persecuted Rohingyas have taken refuge, they must be given every possible relief to fulfil the minimum basic needs of life, specially with winter ahead. Besides food, shelter, water, sanitation and health care, financial assistance to rehabilitate and sustain them are also essential. The Myanmar government and its army must stop any fresh and savage atrocities on the Rohingyas by them or their cohorts in the guise of nationalists. When under pressure of world opinion, the Myanmar government appears agreeable to take refugees back home, the latter must be ensured full security and necessary assistance and relief for rehabilitation. Any breach of security and relief would stand out as criminal offence to the international community, not to speak of humanity.
But apart from these, finding a lasting solution is imperative by any and every rational and available means and methods, making use of all avenues of negotiations and dialogues to arrive at solutions. It is quite clear that a pro-active world opinion is direly needed to enforce democratic humanitarian norms and values, to prevent ethnic cleansing, even extermination of a community in a world that boasts of civility and progress. The right to live a decent life cannot rest upon the mercy of the rulers and their strong-arm coercive bandwagons. Question of citizenship also needs be resolved on the anvil of the several centuries-long history and reason; the crisis-ridden capitalist system cannot simply thrust the burden of the crisis on helpless common people by driving divisive wedges to disunite them. Right-thinking, saner section of people who have a modicum of feelings for humanitarian democratic norms and values, both within Myanmar as also beyond it in other countries, neighbouring or not, must realize the gravity and urgency of the situation and boldly face these questions. They should take leading role to organize and develop powerful mass movements in Myanmar and the world over to give birth to an ambience of firm unity and deep-rooted fraternity of common people, cutting across all divisive traits, an ambience of genuine leftist mental make-up. Only such movements can create required and desired world opinion to effectively combat the parochial, divisive chauvinists and reactionaries and their savage atrocities upon innocent populations, to reach any tangible solution for problems that remain pending for years simply to serve the vested interests at the huge cost for humanity. These are the needs of the hour that beg attention of people of the world.
Comrade Provash Ghosh’s call on Fifth August :
Do not let the inner struggle of the Party slacken in any case
[This is the text of the speech delivered in Bengali by Comrade Provash Ghosh, General Secretary, SUCI(C), at the 41st Memorial Day meeting of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, the great leader of the proletariat, organized by the West Bengal State Committee of the Party at Nazrul Mancha, in Kolkata on 5 August, 2017. Responsibility of translation error or inadequacy of expression, if any, lies with the Editorial Board of Proletarian Era]
The Memorial Day meeting of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, the great leader of the proletariat and our teacher, could not be organized this time at any open place because of inclement weather. So, it is being held here in Nazrul Mancha. Though this hall is quite big, it falls short of space to accommodate a large gathering. That is why, all Party workers have not been able to attend this meeting. As I have been informed, all districts were given definite quotas of attendance. May be one third of the Party workers have got the opportunity to be present here. In the various meetings organized to observe the 68th Party Foundation Day on 24 April last, I myself, President of this meeting as well as our Central Committee members had elaborately dwelt on the present political situation. Today, my objective is to bring to the memory of the comrades some of the valuable teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. I shall also read out some selected portions from his works. Many of you might have been acquainted with these teachings. Yet, I feel those teachings bear recall.
Recently, the West Bengal comrades are feeling very much enthusiastic. The state-wide general strike on the demand for re-introduction of pass-fail system right from class I received unprecedented response of the people.That compelled the state government to agree to the demand to a great extent. Because of that, our comrades are being congratulated by the people at large in various towns, villages, localities and households. So, our comrades are feeling very much inspired and encouraged. This is natural. What is noteworthy is that as a left party, our strength in the state has gone up considerably. Though, the CPI (M) has more strength than us in terms of number, most of their workers are inactive. We rank next to the CPI (M). Party organization is spreading thick and fast in various states of the country as well. The Party is also developing in newer states. Party work has started in Uttarakhand and the Andamans. Of late, it has spread in Sikkim and Punjab. Earlier, we did not have that much of presence in these states. 10 to 12 days back, we received a call from Puducherry. A section of the workers of CPI and CPI (M) wish to join our Party there. We have been organizing many big programmes and movements not only in this state but in other states also. We do have that organizational strength. You have been finding coverage of those programmes and movements in Ganadabi, our weekly Bengali organ.
We should not forget the historic arduous struggle of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, the great leader
But I would like to particularly emphasize in this meeting that being overwhelmed by the rapid growth of the Party and public support, we should not be oblivious of how the great leader, to pay respect to whom we have assembled here, had conducted a painstaking struggle, doggedly fought against all adversities to build this Party. In what situation had he said, ‘I might die under a tree. No one might even know of my death or come forward in support of my stand. But if there is truth in my struggle, history one day will acknowledge that.’He also said,”I can still recollect those early days when we started building up the party… we could not even arrange a room as shelter and, day after day, in our fierce battle to build up a new party in the midst of severe obstacles and a completely adverse situation, we had to strive hard even without food, …For years together we shared a grass-mat only, and so many winters we passed like that.” 1These are all available in his works and speeches.He also said, “…when I started this party with just a handful of compatriots. Everybody laughed at us then…They taunted, we had sprouted like a mushroom.They derided: if the SUCI is a party, then a bat also is a bird;… I ignored all their ridicules and just proceeded along with firm resolve to build up the party.” 2These few lines that I have quoted here were said in the backdrop of his arduous relentless struggle for days, months and years, with a firm resolve and determination. Our new comrades have not seen those hard days. Three of us sitting in the front of this dais (he meant himself, Comrades Ranjit Dhar and Mubinul Haider Chowdhury—Editor, P. Era) had witnessed some of those hard days of historic struggle. We have seen Comrade Shibdas Ghosh to starve. At best 20 or 22 of us used to attend the study classes conducted by him at that time. There were gatherings of around 150 to 200 people in the public meetings he addressed. We have seen all these. Undivided CPI was a very big party then. Its leaders and cadres were then honest. It enjoyed the backing of the Soviet Communist party led by great Stalin and the Communist Party of China led by great Mao Zedong. In such a situation, in order to initiate someone into our Party, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had to explain that both Stalin and Mao Zedong were his leaders, but the undivided CPI was not a real communist party. Just think how difficult a task it was in those days. Forward Bloc founded by Netaji Subhas was also a very big party. It had considerable influence on the masses. RSP which originated from the Anushilan Samity formed during the freedom struggle also had a large following. RCPI formed by Soumendranath Tagore who belonged to the well-known Tagore family of Rabindranath, too, was very strong. All these parties then were big names. They used to deride us because we few only participated in our processions. We had to overcome all such odds and hurdles. Now our comrades get invitation from various families which affectionately entertain them with food. If any of our comrades fail to turn up at the invitation, they feel emotionally injured. At this moment, just pause and think what kind of adversities the founder of this Party had to face, what hard a struggle he had to conduct. If we forget that history, fail to keep that always alive in our mind, and do not bring out the same before the next generation, will we be able to attain the standard befitting this Party? I have seen Comrade Nihar Mukherjee going to his acquaintances and contacts for arranging bus fare of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. But today, I have come to this meeting in an air-conditioned car. If we are oblivious of this history and struggles and our next generation do not keep the same living in their memory, we shall fall victim to privilege seeking. We shall only enjoy some privileges because of the good name of and mass support behind the Party. I want to stress this point at the outset.
Secondly, note this, the parties including the CPI (M) and CPI, the two factions of the undivided CPI which once taunted us, are now in what a pathetic condition. The CPI has become a party of a few veterans without any young followers. The CPI (M) has gathered so much strength after ruling West Bengal for 34 years that it cannot now even stand up without holding the hands of the Congress! This is their condition today. They are continuously becoming weakened in the whole of India. Parties like the RSP and Forward Bloc are on the verge of extinction. Nobody even pronounces the name of RCPI now. But our Party is making bold strides ahead though the media do not give us any coverage. We are not advancing based on the strength of MLAs or MPs. Even today, we raise funds through street collection and door to door approach. Yet, people are attracted towards us. A large number of workers-peasants-students-youths-women are joining our Party. Which ideology or force is behind this growth of the Party? It is the illumining thoughts and teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, an outstanding Marxist thinker. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh Thought is the invincible weapon we are armed with.
Look at the entire world. Epoch-making November Revolution was accomplished under the leadership of great Lenin. A powerful socialist state was established under the leadership of great Stalin. The Soviet Red army under Stalin inflicted crushing defeat on the fascist axis of Hitler, Mussolini and Japan. The Chinese Revolution achieved victory as a result of a historic struggle conducted with great Mao Zedong at the helm. The Vietnam struggle became victorious under the guidance of Ho Chi Minh, the great revolutionary leader. The battles they had to conduct, the casualties they had to face and the sacrifices they had to make were beyond imagination. Our Party has not yet conducted struggle of that scale and nature. Yet what a tragic end has been that of the Soviet party. After the death of Stalin, the party under revisionist attack from within degenerated so fast that the defeated bourgeoisie regained strength, accelerated the process of degeneration by polluting the CPSU and turning it into a bourgeois party and finally restored capitalism through counter-revolution. So, Soviet socialism was dismantled not because of any external attack but owing to attack of revisionism from within. The same thing happened in China after the demise of Mao Zedong. Similar has been the case with Vietnam. There is no powerful communist party anywhere in the world. So far I know, some small groups are cultivating communist ideology here and there in an isolated manner. At one time, the Maoist Communist Party of Nepal became popular because of its guerrilla fight against the ruling monarchy there. But once parliamentary democracy was established there and the party won the election, it reportedly is split owing to group conflicts. In such a world situation, it is only our Party which, based on Comrade Shibdas Ghosh Thought, is firmly standing on a solid footing as a genuine Marxist-Leninist party on the Indian soil and making steady progress. This is immensely significant. How could such be possible? What is that struggle? This question I would request our workers and leaders to deeply ponder over. Herein lies the historic role of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. He said, “This party has been moulded on a new model, a newer ideological understanding, through correct application of Marxism-Leninism in the concrete situation obtaining in India. The methodology and process of its formation has altogether been different. You will not find the same in any other party. New comrades now-a-days coming into the party are to acquire this cultural tune, side by side with their education in politics, by pursuing the cultural essence of party’s ideology and political line.” 3He also said, “Thus, the method guiding formation of the party during Lenin’s time and in present-day India cannot be exactly similar, especially because the dangerous form that bourgeois individualism has assumed today was never like this during Lenin’s time.” 4The answer to the question I have raised can also be had from this teaching of his. Lenin had said that a communist party cannot be formed just by conveying a conference and passing a resolution. What is needed is ideological unity, unity of ideas. Based on this teaching of Lenin, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had developed the concept further. He showed that ideological centralism ought to be the basis of a proletarian revolutionary party. So, what is needed first for formation of such a party is ideological centralism. Lenin had taught that the collective knowledge of the leaders and cadres is the collective leadership of the party. Without a correct revolutionary theory, there cannot be revolution or a revolutionary party. Elaborating and enriching this concept further, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had said that revolutionary ideology does not only mean determining the stage of revolution or formulation of the strategy of revolution. Revolutionary theory means development of a comprehensive Marxist guideline of revolution by applying Marxist methodology of analysis in the concrete situation of a country and covering all spheres of life, economic-political-social-cultural-family-personal. This is called concretization of Marxism. That is why Lenin said that application of the general guiding principles of revolution, which, in particular, would be applied in England differently than in France, in France differently than in Germany, and in Germany differently than in Russia. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh placed before us this teaching of Lenin by saying that Dialectical Materialism means a scientific methodology of analysis to know truth. The communists must acquire the ability to apply this methodology to analyse any phenomenon of the world, any occurrence in the material world and arrive at a definite conclusion. That is why, it is necessary to acquire Marxist outlook. Comrades must remember this. We always think like this: this is good and that is not good, this is to be done and not that, that very person is like this while the other persons are not like that, I like this person but not that person, I derive pleasure out of this but am pained at that and so forth. In this way, whatever we think, we think based on an outlook. One particular methodology of analysis guides our thoughts, patterns our thinking, or governs our likes and dislikes, concepts of right or wrong. Either we are driven by bourgeois outlook or idealist outlook which we derive from the society, get accustomed to it and hence reflect that in our thinking process, in our conducts, behaviours or habits, or we consciously draw lessons from the Party to apply Marxist outlook, analysis and approach and conduct ourselves accordingly.
Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had grasped Marxist methodology of analysis
Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had not just read the books of Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin-Mao Zedong. He had acquired the Marxist outlook from their teachings, grasped the Marxist methodology of analysis. How deep was his grasping is testified by the fact that way back in 1948 when the struggle for Party formation was going on, he could detect the shortcomings of the international communist movement and sounded caution about it. This was indeed astonishing! We were very young at that time. Our present comrades have not seen those days. After Second World War, there was a surge of socialism in various parts of the globe. The East European countries were liberated. The Chinese Revolution was nearing victory. Vietnam was on the verge of being emancipated. National liberation struggles in the various colonies had gained tremendous momentum. Stalin was being respected almost like god. So favourable was the situation. Powerful communist parties existed in France, Italy, Japan and Indonesia. At such a time, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, then trying to build up the Party with a handful of revolutionary compatriots, pointed out that “While acknowledging with just pride and deference the very many achievements and successes and glorious sacrifices of the world communist movement, we have not failed, even for a moment to point out the serious shortcomings in it,… So far, the communists of different countries mostly stressed one-sided routine work of organization without showing any regard to co-ordinating it with questions of ideology.” 5As a result, the relationship between Stalin and the leaders of the various communist parties was not dialectical. Neither was also the relationship between the Soviet communist party and the other fraternal parties dialectical. As against dialectical, the relationship, in the main, became mechanical. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had warned that this would entail a grave crisis one day. In 1948 itself, he could indicate what kind of danger both the Soviet and Chinese parties were going to face in the days to come. How could he understand that at such a young age? Because, he had acquired Marxist methodology of analysis, had grasped Marxist culture. What is required is to grasp Marxist outlook and culture and provide concrete analysis of the concrete national and international situations based on that outlook and culture. That means concrete analysis of concrete situation. As both national and international situations change, the nature of the problems also changes. Naturally, the concrete analysis of the changed situation also changes. Even though the situation and its concrete analysis remains the same meaning do not undergo any qualitative change, quantitative changes continue to take place. To the extent the quantitative change takes place in the process of continuous development, the understanding and application of that understanding also change. That is why, it is always necessary to have a concrete evaluation of a concrete situation. This is equally true for analysis and evaluation of any international or national situation, any particular development or incident and even of a particular person. Creative application of Marxism means the ability to correctly understand the specific characteristics or features of a specific situation or phenomenon. The outlook fundamentally remains the same. But with development of science and epistemology, with emergence of newer problems and questions, the understanding of the basic principles of Marxism becomes more and more enriched and developed. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had taught us that. It is necessary to mention here that in the post-Lenin period, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, based on the aforesaid outlook, developed and enriched Marxism-Leninism in the context of multiplicity of newer problems and in keeping with the advancement of modern science. He said that it would not suffice if the leaders and cadres of the Party only read the Marxist classics and other books and memorize quotations. They must acquire this outlook and methodology of analysis. Otherwise, we shall not be able to face the emerging situation, to analyse and evaluate the evolving problems. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had not seen many of the newer developments that have taken place after his death. So he could not illumine the path in respect of these newer developments or questions. That task we have to shoulder today based on his teachings. It is to be mentioned here that so long he lived, he never blindly followed the analyses of Stalin or Mao Zedong even during their life time. Based on Marxist outlook, he supported whatever he found to be correct and pointed out whatever he considered incorrect to help the international leadership.
Comrade Shibdas Ghosh never imposed discipline
He taught that it would not be enough to say that collective leadership means collective knowledge of the leaders and cadres. This concept has to be developed further. A uniformity of thinking must be developed among the leaders and cadres in course of conducting an all-embracing life struggle based on Marxism or Dialectical Materialism. Truth is concrete and decisive in science. Conclusion arrived at in respect of one particular question at a particular point of time would be one and the same. In the formative stage of the party, this struggle of developing uniformity of thinking has to be waged involving leaders and cadres at all levels following dialectical process and through dialectical interaction of thoughts and ideas. In course of this struggle, there would arise a time when the collective thinking and collective knowledge of all the leaders and cadres would be concretely manifest in one particular leader like Lenin, Stalin, Mao Zedong and Shibdas Ghosh. This is the concrete personified expression of the collective thought. This happens only when ideological centralization is attained in the party. By one process of thinking, we mean thinking based on Marxist outlook. Uniformity of thinking means arriving at a uniform understanding of any question or phenomenon by applying one process of thinking. In other words, thought is uniform on each question. At the same time, when we act based on one process of thinking and uniformity of thinking, there is oneness in approach and when we act, there is oneness in application. That means there is uniformity in approach as well. Through this process works a singleness of purpose which means we all work with a singular revolutionary purpose or objective. In course of the struggle for attaining all these characteristics, the party develops. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had shown that in course of developing collective leadership through this process, proletarian democracy becomes operative by eliminating individual leadership and individualism. Once this ideological centralism is attained, the task next is to develop organizational centralism. Our Party has developed following this Marxist process. You shall get detailed discussion on this subject in his celebrated work, “Why SUCI(C) is the Onlyyjh6u76 Genuine Communist Party in India”. In fact, this book of his would act as a valuable guide towards building up a genuine communist party in any country.
Many will be surprised to know one thing. Our Party was founded in 1948. But the first party congress was held in 1988 i.e. after 40 years. For these 40 long years, we had no written constitution. We had functioned based on conventional practice by accepting Leninist constitution as model. It is something new in history. Even our enemies admit that our Party is well-disciplined. Everyone says so. From 1948, this discipline is operative within the Party. After 1988, there is a written constitution. But, we do not yet crack our head much on the various clauses and sub-clauses of the constitution. But the Party is running in a disciplined manner. This is also a valued contribution of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. He had never imposed discipline. He made discipline evolve as a culture and habit through relentless education and cultivation. We are now habituated in functioning in a disciplined manner. Though we have now a written constitution, we are already tuned to function with revolutionary discipline and code of conduct.
There is another important point in regard to Party constitution. In the constitutions of the many communist parties including those of Soviet Russia and China, it was written that if there is a difference of opinion within a party body, the minority should accept the majority decision. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had taught us right from the beginning that the majority decision should not just be accepted, but accepted happily. This happy acceptance is linked with communist culture. That means, the collective body has to take final decision as to which is right and what is wrong. If any differing individual does not accept the majority decision happily but just formally, then his acceptance is with reservation and maintaining the difference. This is not correct. Because the question is, which decision is to be relied upon, collective or individual. If there is any mistake, only the collective will rectify that. He pointed out that according to formal democracy in a bourgeois party, the minority accepts the majority opinion. Many of you might not know that Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had himself set an example of this in course of his life struggle which is worth following by all of us. He was afflicted with a deadly disease in 1972. It seemed to him that death was imminent. So, it would be unethical for him to continue his treatment with public money since he would no more be able to provide any service to the people. But the Party leaders and all of us were not ready to give up hope. However, all efforts to persuade him to change his opinion failed. Ultimately, he was informed that the Party had taken the decision to admit him in a nursing home. Then, he did not object. In spite of his viewing that he was on the verge of death, he quietly accepted the Party decision. On that occasion, we could save his life. As the General Secretary of the Party, Comrade Nihar Mukherjee was twice in a minority in the Central Committee in taking decisions. But he unhesitatingly and happily accepted the majority decision and implemented those. I have narrated these two incidents to refer to the specific understanding of questions related to our Party constitution so that the leaders and cadres of our Party at different levels can be educated in this regard.
First step towards Party formation is development of ideological centralization
Incidentally, there is a misconception that unless all the leaders stay at the same place during the days of party formation, unity or collective leadership does not develop. I have already discussed Comrade Shibdas Ghosh’s teaching about development of collective leadership. When I was associated with the Party, only Comrade Shibdas Ghosh and Comrade Nihar Mukherjee used to stay together. Comrade Sachin Banerjee stayed in the South 24 Parganas. Comrade Subodh Banerjee stayed sometimes in the South Parganas and sometimes in a mess in Kolkata. Other three founding Central Committee members, Comrades Rathin Sen, Pritish Chanda and Hiren Sarkar were staying at separate places. After some days, Comrade Manoranjan Banerjee was inducted in the Central Committee. He also used to stay separately. But there was dialectical relationship among all of them. I joined the Party in 1950. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh breathed his last in 1976. Only one full day and night I did stay with him at Suri town in Birbhum district of West Bengal. Of course, I met him on a number of occasions. Many times I had gone to him out of my necessity. He also called me on a number of occasions. He did immense good to me by criticizing and educating me many a times. I did not miss any of his political classes, meetings or schools. How could have I learnt whatever I have, unless I had a dialectical relationship with him?This dialectical relationship develops involving all throughout the Party. The struggle for developing collective leadership continues also involving all leaders and cadres. We were not leaders then. But we also had dialectical relationship with Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. He used to build up this dialectical relationship and involved us in the dialectical process. He tried to improve our standard through various discourses and debates, arguments and counter-arguments. This was a comprehensive struggle. It is worth mentioning that not the Central Committee leaders but only ordinary comrades used to stay with Comrade Nihar Mukherjee. The same is the case with me now. Sometimes the leaders come, spend a day or two and then go away. But I stay with ordinary comrades. In this regard, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had said in his discussion on the Tenth Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) that “And to lead collective life does not just mean staying together in camps, keeping to villages all together or living in peasant households… It is necessary that the leaders should involve the party comrades in constant common association, constant common discussion and constant common activity so that the comrades can find answers to their every problem in minutest detail and the struggle to acquire communist ethics and culture gets strengthened.”6
What is meant by Proletarian Democracy?
Lenin had said that democratic centralization would develop through fusion between proletarian democracy and centralization. But what is proletarian democracy? I have not found any elaboration of that in Lenin’s works and speeches so far. He had discussed about the concept of state and the difference between the concepts of democracy in a bourgeois state and a socialist state. He also showed how democracy in a bourgeois state is in the interest of the minority bourgeoisie, whereas democracy in socialism is in the interest of majority people. But it was Comrade Shibdas Ghosh from whom we have received the elaboration about proletarian democracy, its characteristics and features, the necessity of establishing proletarian democracy through the process of fighting individualism. During Lenin’s time, bourgeois individualism did not assume the character it has today. When Lenin was building up the party, development of capitalism was weak in Russia. There was much influence of feudalism and feudal culture in Tsarist regime. But the November Revolution of 1917 was a socialist revolution only because the bourgeoisie had captured state power during the February Revolution. Since by revolution we mean smashing of the existing state machine, the Russian Revolution was anti-capitalist socialist revolution because it was aimed at overthrowing the bourgeoisie from state power. That is why, Lenin had said that the socialist state would have to complete the unfulfilled tasks of bourgeois democratic revolution. The Chinese Revolution was virtually a bourgeois democratic revolution under the leadership of the working class. So, both the Russian and the Chinese revolutions were led to victory based on bourgeois humanist values which had evolved centring on individualism, developed at the time of bourgeois democratic revolution and at that time it had a progressive role. In feudalism or monarchy, there was no right to have individual property. That was the time of cottage industry. The king or feudal lord as representative of ‘god’ was the owner of all properties. As against it, bourgeois democratic revolution raised the slogan that any individual was entitled to own property. This was the slogan of the French Revolution and the industrial revolution of England. It was a slogan for developing big industries by dismantling cottage industry. So, in that period the concepts of individual freedom and individuality which grew based on individual ownership were progressive. The French Revolution was a progressive revolution. The bourgeoisie during that period of rising capitalism was uncompromising in its fight against feudalism. The humanist values which spurred on these bourgeois democratic revolutions called for subordinating individual interest to social interest. In our freedom movement also, this humanist value had worked. In Saratchandra’s celebrated political novel “Pather Dabi” (Demand of the road), there is narration of an incident where Apurba, one of the characters, was asking Ramdas Talwalkar, a revolutionary freedom fighter, ‘“Why have you involved yourself in this revolutionary movement when you are married?” Ramdas replied, “Babuji, marriage is a dharma. But greater dharma is to struggle for the country’s freedom. If I had known that a smaller dharma would pose obstacle before a greater dharma, I would not have married.” In the entire freedom struggle, Kshudiram, Bhagat Singh, Subhaschandra, Pritilata, Lajpat Rai, Surya Sen and all others had conducted their struggle based on this humanist value. At the same time, this humanist value of subordinating individual interest to social interest had worked in accomplishing both the Russian and the Chinese Revolutions. You will find mention of this in the book “On communist education” by Comrade Kalinin, a leader of the Soviet Party. But Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had explained that during Russian or Chinese revolution, individualism had a relatively progressive role. So, the humanist value of surrendering individual interest to social interest had worked. But after revolution, this humanist value would not work for a long duration. When socialist state would be established and attain some stability, when there would no more be any civil war or threat of foreign aggression, individualism, which was considered as secondary would appear as the dominant feature. This phenomenon he termed as ‘Socialist Individualism’. The crisis of socialism in Russia and China mainly originated from this phenomenon. Indian capitalism was quite developed in 1948. So, the feature of individualism was also prominent. So, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh needed to fight this menace of individualism. Hence he said that individualism has to be fought not only in capitalist India but also in the advanced imperialist-capitalist countries as well as socialist Russia and China. By fighting individualism, man has to be freed from this menace. Just by giving up material private property, one cannot be freed from the grip of individualism. On every question of life— family life, married life, attitude towards children, likes and dislikes, ethics and morality—one has to free oneself from individualism and private property mental-complex. Higher proletarian culture can be acquired only when one completely frees oneself from the grip of individualism and completely identifies one’s individual interest with the interest of the working class, revolution and party. Proletarian Democracy would develop based on this. Unless individualism is rooted out from the party in the process of developing collective leadership, proletarian culture and proletarian democracy cannot be developed. He spoke of three things. First, during the formative stage of the party, there should be struggle to develop collective thought and collective leadership based on Marxism-Leninism and covering all aspects of life. Second, through this struggle, there would be emergence of a leader of the leaders as the best personified expression of this collective thought. Third, in course of this struggle, there would appear a band of professional revolutionaries who would be identified with the interest of the party by freeing themselves from individual interest, individual thought and individualism and would be capable of undertaking unhesitatingly and happily any work in the interest of revolution. Thus, a number of professional revolutionaries so developed would qualify to become leaders. Otherwise, a proletarian revolutionary party cannot be formed. In this process, he founded SUCI(Communist) by further developing and enriching Leninist model of party formation. Today, we are standing on that foundation.
That tide of international communist movement is not in existence now. There is severe crisis in the world. In our country also, left movement is in peril. Still, we could reach this stage of development because the Party was formed following a different process. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh held Stalin and Mao Zedong as his leaders, had profound respect for them. He also taught us to hold these leaders in high esteem. He told us that unless we deeply respect Stalin or Mao Zedong, we would not be able to understand his thoughts. Our great teacher repeatedly told us that he was an ardent student of these giant communist authorities. But at the same time, he did not blindly follow them. His relationship with these great leaders was dialectical. In 1948 itself when Stalin was alive, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had pointed out weakness of international communist movement. Afterwards also, he drew attention to such weaknesses and shortcomings. He also praised what was laudable in case of China. However, he did not hesitate to point out the shortcomings he noticed even during the lifetime of Mao Zedong. He himself applied Marxist methodology to examine and judge everything and taught us to do so.
Marxism only provides a higher ethical-moral life in this era
I shall dwell on two more things which Comrade Shibdas Ghosh made living in the Party. According to him, all great men in various stages of history starting from Buddha who fought for upholding the cause of people and those who held high the flag of revolution possessed noble feelings of heart. The noble heart which possesses immense love and emotion for the millions and millions of unknown oppressed people and carries their pain and sufferings in it, is the base of revolutionary politics. In his words, “The pain and sorrow of the entire society together with the revolutionary transformation they underwent in the realm of values made such a penetrating impact on the revolutionaries that they have become steeled in their resolve to make revolution a concrete reality. That is why, the revolutionaries never neglect their duty.”7He further said,”One has become a Marxist simply because one is haunted by hunger — the issue is not like that. In every country it is boundless love and compassion for humanity that have impelled great men and thinkers of this era to embrace Marxism. Many of them hailed even from the exploiting class, from Kulaks, from rich families. So did Mao Zedong, Engels and many others — none of them experienced any want. They became Marxists precisely for the ethics, ideology and values of Marxism, because they could not find anything in the world that was even greater, nobler, loftier. The appeal of Marxism is not such that a man feels attracted to it just because he is starving.” 8According to his teachings, we need to live an ethical life. Why should we live for nothing or lead the life of an animal? We must live with human qualities, human essence, with higher ethics and culture. That is why, Marxism is the highest ideology of the time. So, he held that, “Marxism-Leninism is the most scientific and the loftiest ideology of this age….The essence, the living soul, the kernel of …(this) revolutionary ideology …is ingrained in its higher cultural and ethical standard.”9At least I have not found in anyone else’s discussion that acceptance of Marxism means embracing a higher ethical life as the essence of it lies in its higher ideology; lies in its higher ethical-cultural standard. This is the reason he gave so much importance on developing and elevating the character of the comrades in the Party from higher to higher standard. He repeatedly stressed that driven by the nobler feelings of heart and urge for leading a higher ethical-moral life, one is initiated into revolutionary struggle. Any other life is of slavery and hence repugnant. In a meeting of the students, he said— so long you live, live with your head held high and when you would die, you would die with honour. And the only way to lead that honourable life is to carry the flag of revolution, to struggle for emancipation of the humanity. In his language, “… the principal struggle to become a revolutionary proletariat, or a communist, is the struggle to acquire the cultural and ethical standard which enables one to submit one’s individual interest most happily, voluntarily and unhesitatingly to the cause of the class, revolution and party by participating, first of all, directly and actively in the revolutionary movements of the toiling people, and thereby grasping the revolutionary politics of the proletariat…this surrender of individual interest to the cause of revolution is qualitatively different from the bourgeois concept of sacrificing one’s wealth, properties and everything in life for the sake of the country. But if this spirit of surrender is influenced by the bourgeois outlook then vanity, individualism and ego will surely get inflated creating thereby serious impediment in the path of becoming a communist…This concept of ‘sacrifice’ begets a desire to get something in return…They hanker after name and fame…position and desire their sacrifices to be known to all” 10Fighting this so called ‘glorification of sacrifice’, he said, “…we sacrificed nothing. Leaving behind a petty, common place and filthy life, we have accepted the noblest and the most precious life of the time.” 11He further taught, “The wants and privations, thousands of sufferings and oppressions which the revolutionaries have to put up with may seem very painful to common people, but the peace and happiness which the revolutionaries enjoy, even being in the midst of an apparently painful and constantly struggling life, cannot be fathomed by those who live in comfort and security.” 12
Lure of comfort-luxury should not overwhelm
He gave one more warning about a feature which is now creating some problem in the Party. He said, “…revolutionary… accepts…the standard of life the party can afford… if the party can afford a good dress, a car when required, he should not develop any attachment to all these —he should never fall victim to the cult of comfort;.. But what happens if a leader is not conscious of it? Unless he can free himself completely from all sorts of attachment to comfort, even as he goes on getting the same he may one day fall victim to it. That poses the real problem. As he could once put up with utter discomfort without any grumble, it does not ipso facto mean that he will be able to maintain that quality throughout his life. A revolutionary, therefore, has to conduct a constant struggle within himself and subject himself to continuous tests and critical self-examination.”13 In another discussion at the fag end of his life, he mentioned: “But I notice, even some of our party leaders are getting attached to good living, without which they find it difficult to pursue day to day work for revolution just because a sort of disinclination for simple, frugal life has crept in them. Indeed, this is another form of the same vulgar bourgeois individualistic culture.” 14I reiterate that in this meeting. Because, people now generously donate to our Party fund. They contribute much more now. There is not that much of problem in so far food and lodging of the leaders are concerned. It is not there at all at our level. But if this warning is not kept in mind, degeneration would start from here. In this house, there are many leaders of different levels. They either stay at the Party office or Party centres or in their own houses. Today, there is no problem of food. At least, it is not there in this state. He sounded the caution that if this leads to capitulation to lure of comfort or luxury, it would cause disaster. I want this house to take note of this warning and always keep that in mind.
Ideological standard cannot be low
Another warning of his has been that, “…if the level of consciousness and the cultural standard remain low, then it may give birth to revisionism-reformism at any moment…under favourable conditions… If backwardness continues to persist in the fields of epistemology and culture, then the entire party and the working class may, being misled, tread the revisionist-reformist path and bring about restoration of capitalism while waving the banner of Marxism-Leninism and chanting socialist slogans.” 15He also said, “The necessary condition for the operation of proletarian democratic principle in a party can be guaranteed only when the level of consciousness of the party cadres has attained a minimum of standard which enables all of them, or at least most of them, to express their thoughts in an articulate form, i.e. they are able to play an effective role through dialogue and discussions in the inner-party polemics and ideological struggles. Attainment of such a minimum of standard to make critical analysis of theories requires, as a precondition, attainment of a higher cultural-ethical standard by the cadres through concrete struggles covering all aspects of life.”16 This is a problem before the Party now. Our comrades are sincere, honest. They work hard, face many obstacles and bear many difficulties and sufferings. But we are neglecting one aspect about which Stalin had warned before his death in 1952. In the 19th Congress of Soviet Communist Party, he said, “Ideological work is prime duty of the party, and underestimation of its importance may do irreparable damage to the interests of party and state. We must always remember that if the influence of socialist ideology is weakened the effect is to strengthen the influence of the bourgeois ideology.” With grave concern he understood which direction the Soviet Union was going to and what irreparable harm it would cause. Exactly that had happened. Ultimately, capitalism was restored there. We must note that ideological struggle, cultivation of theory and knowledge is the prime task of the Party. But, these are not given that importance in our Party today. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had also said that routine work is necessary, but a necessary evil. So, necessary routine work has to be undertaken with due care. But if there is too much emphasis on routine work and the struggle for attaining higher ideological-cultural standard is neglected, it would cause immense harm. So, there should be intensive cultivation of Marxism-Leninism-Shibdas Ghosh Thought alongwith study of analyses of different problems confronting struggles within the Party. For that, it is necessary to conduct study classes, debates, discussions and organize schools of politics on a wide scale. If the tasks of continuously raising ideological standard and attaining higher cultural standard on the one hand and freeing ourselves from the influence of individualism on the other hand are not undertaken in right earnest, then there is no guarantee that SUCI(C) would also not degenerate like the Soviet or Chinese party despite such a glorious history of struggle of our Party and raising slogans like ‘Shibdas Ghosh Thought Zindabad’. The guarantee of preventing any such degeneration lies in the continuous upgradation of the ideological-cultural standard of the leaders and cadres at various levels. Otherwise, there would be no dialectical relationship. The workers would have blind allegiance to the leaders and the Party. So long Stalin was at the helm of leadership in Russia, the Soviet party had blindly followed him. Since Stalin was a giant Marxist authority steering the party along the right track, the Soviet party functioned properly. After Stalin, revisionist leaders took over. The Soviet party also followed them blindly. In the initial stage, the Soviet party and Soviet people could not understand that these leaders were endangering socialism. The painful outcome of blind allegiance could not be averted. Our Party also suffers from this shortcoming of showing blind allegiance. The leaders of the state committee, district committees, local committees and fronts are present here. They must ensure that the various activities of the Party, body meetings and the discussions in any programme are not delinked from the struggle from continuous elevation of ideological-cultural standard. In the body meetings also, sometimes conflicts arise because of individualism. During debates among individuals, it is to be carefully observed as to who are arguing based on individualistic approach and who are pursuing collective approach. These should be matters of discussion. Everything cannot be understood in a study class. It requires cultivation in total Party life. What is the meaning of common constant association, common constant discussion and common constant activities of the Party workers? Is it that we all are staying in one room and having discussion in association with each other? No, it is not so. The Party has various types of activities, different spheres of activities. If any comrade meets another comrade, they may be involved in various discussions or share moments of wit and humour. Even in those discussions, wit or humours, a discussion on theory may arise. A purposive association and comradeship ought to grow within the Party. True comradeship, a true proletarian culture, a proper sense of likes and dislikes must be reflected while having tea or tiffin together or having chit-chats. Even during such association, a particular issue or subject is found to be invoked and discussed. The struggle for improving ideological-cultural standard must be conducted encompassing this total life. Remember, today our Party is not only the hope of this country but of the international communist movement as well. Further we must note that Indian capitalism is not just capitalism, but a fast deteriorating capitalism. I shall quote from one of his speeches in 1971. He had warned that, “Twenty or thirty years from now, a communist party in a capitalist country is sure to witness such ugly manifestation of bourgeois individualism as even now is not being seen.” 17 This caution was sounded in 1971 and we are in 2017 now. The cultural pollution we are living in today is much more than what he had witnessed. We are surrounded by capitalism—economically-politically-socially-morally-ethically. We are products of capitalism. We are coming from a capitalist society. We were not born in communist families. Our family life was bourgeois family life. We were children of such families. In our childhood, we were groomed mainly amongst bourgeois culture along with influence of feudal culture as well. With all such mindsets and cultural traits, we were attracted to and associated with the Party. At the same time, where is the guarantee that we would not be degenerated because of continuous infiltration of rotten bourgeois thoughts from outside? If we can proudly hold aloft the banner of Marxism-Leninism-Shibdas Ghosh Thought, we shall not only be able to intensify the revolutionary movement of our country, but influence revolutionary movements of other countries as well. So ideological struggle, struggle for acquiring higher culture are needed urgently. There should not be programme for programme’s sake. At the same time, we cannot totally give up programmes. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh taught us that routine work is necessary. But that is not all.
There should be a practice of debates and discussions within the Party
We are very much worried with another problem. Debates, arguments, cross arguments, criticisms—everything take place within the Party. But only a few leaders and cadres follow the guideline provided by Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. I shall read out from the works of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh for your proper understanding. He said, “According to the communist code of conduct, before discussing or criticizing somebody else’s conduct, one should first place oneself in the other’s position. Otherwise, the mode of criticism can never be impersonal.” 18While criticizing anyone, we should first examine if we were at his or her place with his or her standard, what would have we done. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh also pointed out that, “Another aspect quite often noted during mutual discussions and criticisms within the party is the tendency to find fault with and make unnecessary criticism of comrades. While criticizing this way, comrades often fail to observe the communist code of conduct. In judging each individual, communists always begin with their own negatives and start their analysis with the positive qualities of the others. Communists know that nobody is endowed only with qualities and no shortcomings. There can be no great man who has only qualities completely free from negatives. And nor can there be any such man who is all bad and has no qualities. Rather every individual is a combination of both good and negative qualities, in greater or less measures. So, for developing someone’s good qualities, eliminating his shortcomings, the communist method is not to continuously pick at his faults but to encourage more his positive sides and qualities.” 19Most of the leaders and cadres do not follow this guideline. I have been saying all these to remind you of his teachings. You all deeply respect him but most of you do not follow these teachings of his. Further he had said that, “the real purpose and significance of any discussion or criticism for a communist. They should remember, first of all, that the object of those who make criticism should be such that if their point is wrong, maybe they are unconscious of it, they should be able to rectify themselves in the course of this criticism.” 20In course of his discussion, he also said that when he criticized anyone, his first objective was to find out whether he himself had made any mistake in understanding that person properly. Who was saying this? A great man like Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. How many of us follow this greatness, this very ethics? Our tendency is to prove that I am right and you are wrong. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had further elaborated that, “Secondly, its aim should be to correct the mistakes of others, keeping in view the overall interest of revolution and the party, and also to educate the leaders, cadres and masses about revolutionary politics and ideology and the correct method of its application in order to maintain the cohesion of the party and at the same time to train the leaders and cadres on how to work unitedly with the masses in the interest of revolution. This is the necessity, the only useful purpose of criticism for the revolutionaries, the communists. For a revolutionary, the method of criticism is self-criticism first and then criticism of others.”21 Adherence to this very ethics, very code of conduct while criticizing anyone in regard to implementation of the Party principles and programmes, does not take place in many of our Party meetings. Under the influence of individualism, what dominate are unnecessary and fallacious arguments, tendency to find fault with others. These are all severely harmful for the Party. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had taught us that one should not evaluate oneself. His advice was for being critical about the shortcomings of the self. The qualities of yours should be seen or appreciated by others. If you want to acquire higher revolutionary character, you always be alert of your deficiencies, your limitations and search for the qualities of others, not their faults. Why should we search for the qualities of others? Because, we should always be attentive to learn from others. Then he said that while looking for the qualities of anyone, if you locate some shortcomings of his or her, first examine whether the qualities are more or the shortcomings are predominant in him or her. Thereafter, without indulging in too much of fault-finding, try to enhance his or her qualities to help him or her to be free from those shortcomings. These are all the teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. I am just placing those before you in my own words without reading out from his works. I can show you the relevant portions from his works. The Party is suffering because these guidelines are not followed. He further taught that if you are angry or annoyed with someone, never try to criticize that person till the time you are free from that anger or annoyance. First you free yourself from such ire or irritation and then proceed to criticize. Then he advised not to talk angrily with any kind of comrade. He gave his own example about this. He said he could unhesitatingly express his anger to Comrades Nihar Mukherjee, Sachin Banerjee or Subodh Banerjee. Because they understood him and knew that expression of this anger was for their benefit. But if he felt angry with any junior comrade, enraged at their conduct, he never gave vent to his ire. Because, they would not have understood the objective behind such anger. To them, truth would become false. But many of our leaders are not careful about such things.
Imperative to abide by communist code of conduct
There are a good number of leaders and cadres who perform their assigned jobs with much labour and without caring even for taking food or rest. But they hardly follow any communist code of conduct or ethics. The higher leadership only take note of their work but not this deficiency. So, it is causing harm to both such comrades as well as the Party. Many of them take subjective reading about others. But they do not verify their reading with that of other comrades or co-workers or the leadership. They express this individualistic reading here and there. In many cases, it is found that those who praise or appease such workers or move as per their likes or dislikes are pardoned for all their follies. On the other hand, if there is any slightest of mistake on the part of those who criticize or do not work as per their likes or even misbehave at times, they are literally at daggers drawn on them. These are worse than bourgeois conduct. These are happening because of impact of rotten bourgeois culture. Do not forget the invaluable teaching of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh that a critique is a teacher. Even if someone criticizes from an ulterior motive, we are to take note, if there is something worth of that in such criticism. It is regretted that despite respecting Comrade Shibdas Ghosh immensely, many comrades do not follow these codes. Even a group of comrades who stay together and work together nurture anger, bitterness and ill-feeling against each other. Then how can higher relationship and true comraderie develop?
You must have a mind to learn from the juniors. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had acknowledged that he had learnt from all. Lenin, Stalin, Mao Zedong—everyone had said so. A section of our leaders feel conceited because they are leaders. No one should suffer from leadership-complex. Elaborating on what constitutes a good leader, he said, “I am in-charge; in that sense, I am a formal leader. But we want leaders who would be accepted from heart. One has to be a leader of that kind. Official leadership is minimum. But ideal is that I am a leader not because I hold an office, but I am respected and obeyed even if I do not hold any office. I am obeyed because of my greatness, my ability. I am obeyed because I cherish an emotional relationship, a relationship of love and affection. This ought to be the position of a leader. All other positions are mechanical.” 22 So, I do not consider myself a leader. But others respect me, love me because of my qualities and capabilities. Even, though I am not the secretary, everyone obeys me. Then he said about himself: “There are many leaders under whom I had once worked. They used to give me instructions. Suddenly I found one day that I had become their leader. This did neither happen formally nor by constituting a committee or because of any decision by the party. When I had become their leaders was neither known to them nor to me. I obeyed them, respected them and worked under them. There were conflicts, arguments and counter-arguments centring on work, how to do the work in a better way. But it had never occurred to me that those in the leadership are incompetent. I did never fight for leadership. If I have become a leader today then, believe me, it has not happened because I had fought to be a leader. I have only worked for revolution and nothing else.”23He said this from the experience of his own life. All our leaders should keep this in mind.
Outlook ought to be correct about love, marital life and children
One more problem is giving serious trouble to the Party. Many comrades were associated with the Party during their student days. Afterwards, they were involved in love relation in natural course. They entered marital life and became parents of children. Whether they stay at the centres or in the family, they do not follow the guidance provided by Comrade Shibdas Ghosh in regard to the question of love and parenthood. They are approaching these questions from a personal angle. He had detailed discussions on these issues. I shall read out some portions of his teachings. “The revolutionary leaders of the world had struggled to influence their families. When they were not successful in this struggle, a painful conflict had taken place. Even there was separation. They did not co-exist. It cannot happen that if two persons stay together, they would not influence each other. If one is not able to influence the other, one oneself would be influenced by the other. If none of them are able to influence each other, there would be a conflict, a struggle and the two would move poles apart. Everyone should know that influence of relationship particularly of emotional relationship casts deep influence on one’s culture and character. Affection, love, emotion, sensitiveness, tender feelings—these are all very powerful vehicles, great faculty of heart. While it, on the one hand, makes a person great, it might, on the other hand, lead one to the path of degeneration and degradation as well. Friendship, emotion, conjugal relation, mutual exchange of love and affection in our life mean that one’s revolutionary culture, thoughts and sense of appreciation would inevitably influence others. Interaction in the form of intimate talks and exchange of wit-humour from an affectionate and tender mind would influence one another.”24He also said, “All giant leaders, whether it was Trotsky, Kautsky, Plekhanov or Liu Shaoqi, despite having conducted so many struggles had degenerated because they had compromised on the question of love and affection.”25Many of our leaders and workers have failures in these aspects of life. They think that they in the main are on the right track. Both husband and wife are actively involved in Party work. But is their marital life in consonance with the Party outlook? Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had said that even conjugal life has to be as per Party education. Approach towards children should also be as per the guideline of the Party.
The standard to stay at the Party centres has to be attained
For example, there are so many Party centres. I shall not be able to enter into detailed discussion on this matter today. If there is no leader as the pivot in these centres, it is immensely harmful. Setting up Party centres presupposes that there would be a leader as the centre of attraction there. This leader should be very much impersonal, impartial in his or her approach towards others. Other members of the centre should also be at an advance stage in their struggle against individualism and to a great extent free from the menace. If a centre is established without these preconditions, it would generate more disunity than unity. This also affects Party life. I firmly believe that the centres need to be reorganized. I am advising the State Committee to take necessary action in this regard. If one comrade living in the centre marries someone, it does not automatically make his or her spouse eligible for staying in the centre unless he or she possesses the requisite standard. On the other hand, many of our comrades have a wrong perception that unless they stay together at a centre, desired unity among them does not grow. At the centres, many conflicts arise centring on food, clothing, place of sleeping, preparing the bed for sleeping, purchasing items of daily use from the market, cooking, cleaning the utensils and such other things. If there is no proper guidance on such matters, no competent leader to tackle such conflicts timely, then bitterness develops among the inmates of the centre. That also hampers the political unity among them outside the centre, disturbs the mood for work. We have lot of experience in this regard. Some whole-timers may stay at one place. But do not call that a centre. They may live there together under Party conduction but there might be flexibility. But such flexibility cannot be permitted in case of a centre. There are problems with the children also at the centres. I have noticed that many comrades including whole-timers are moving with typical middle class approach towards their children, whether they are staying at the centre or in their own houses. Have they forgotten how were they reared by their parents? How many dresses did they receive from them? What food could they arrange for themselves? The parents who grew up under such stringencies and now staying at the centre are trying to groom their children like any middle class or upper middle class parent. Even they regret if they cannot afford to do so. Most of us have been initiated into the Party by struggling with our families and even facing physical tortures and ill treatments from parents for their opposition to joining politics lest that should spoil our careers. The Party was a centre of attraction for us outside our conventional family life. On the other hand, to the children who are born and reared in the centres or those of the whole-timer parents staying at their own houses, the Party is a part of their daily life and hence often becomes a monotony to them,. So, they feel attracted towards the outside world. If this contradiction is not correctly handled by the leaders and the parents, then problems cannot but arise. Children are not responsible for this. Innocently, they become victim. First of all, children ought not to be looked after by either of the parent exclusively. The respective Party leaderships would look after them. Whether they would be good or bad, responsibility lies with the leadership. If the children of the centres are to be groomed properly, they should be taken to the slum areas and localities where the poor people live. They must see what the children of impoverished families eat, what they wear, how they grow up in the midst of poverty and scarcity. They must feel emotional pain from within by seeing these. Instead of bothering much on how many marks the children of our comrades have obtained in the examination, the leadership should have to keep vigil on whether they are acquainted with the life and struggle of Kshudiram, Bhagat Singh, Subhaschandra and others. Otherwise, problems cannot be averted. They must be guided to read the poems, stories and novels of the Renaissance period and the days of freedom movement which impart values, create an empathetic tender mind. At the same time, no strict discipline should be imposed. Then there would be a tendency to revolt. Attraction towards the forbidden world would grow. In accordance with their age, they should be acquainted with and made aware of what is right and what is wrong and then guided to be initiated towards the right. I want to refer to another feature in this connection. There are some female comrades who are still under the influence of the obsolete feudal thought that fulfilment of life of a woman is in bearing a child; “Wife is for the sake of obtaining a son”, as the saying goes. In case they fail to have a child, they think themselves as failures and remain pensive. On the contrary, if a child is born, they are over-ecstatic and think as if they have attained salvation. They also tend to look at their own children a little differently from the other children of the Party. But, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had given a call to become Narayani, Bindu, Mejdidi and such other characters symbolizing ethical motherhood which Saratchandra, the great humanist litterateur, had created. Also I find that some of the male comrades under pernicious impact of individualism have fallen victim to enviousness, ill-feeling and jealousy. It is more pronounced among some of the female comrades. They are intolerant to each other, are prone to find faults with others, are narrow-minded and have a tendency to dominate. This is also vitiating the atmosphere. I find that flowering children from ordinary families are coming to the Party. But the children of some of our comrades are failing to understand the Party. The parents staying at the centres never think how the centres are running. Where the money is coming from? Even if the parents earn something, that earning also belongs to the Party. By providing mobile handsets and facility of internet surfing to the children, bad habits are developed among them. More the children make undue demands, more are the parents surrendering to those out of weakness. I shall not dwell on this anymore as I have another serious point to discuss.
Even the highest leader of the Party can also fall
Of late, an invaluable book of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh regarding love and sex has been published. It is written there that, “The leader of the highest rank – he too has to conduct relentless struggle constantly to raise his ideological standard. If this struggle is not conducted relentlessly or is slackened for any reason, the possibility of degradation from the high standard remains. Amidst the relentless class struggle that is going on between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in the capitalist society, we have accepted the proletarian thoughts through our intellect. And the ideas, tastes and culture of the bourgeois society prevalent in the environment are constantly attacking us without our being aware of it. If revolutionaries do not remain alert at every moment by raising their standard of knowledge and consciousness, the bourgeois and petty bourgeois way of thinking would flood into their mind through prevalent habits, through various problems of life, through taste-conduct-customs, culture, prejudices and the like. As termites eat away the foundation of the building from within without any outward manifestation, likewise the bourgeois and petty bourgeois habits, ideas and culture degrade the great characters within a revolutionary party. If one cannot protect the already acquired high standard of revolutionary qualities by knowledge and wisdom like an ever alert sentinel then the qualities of proletarian character that had once been built on a strong foundation will slowly sink in the quicksand of today’s bourgeois and petty bourgeois habits.”26This warning was for us. Right now, by highest leadership is meant the General Secretary, which is me. So, this was addressed to me and the other leaders of my rank. Contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat is working within us every moment. If we are not always careful about that, not guided by the proletarian class outlook in our conduct, behaviour, love, affection, likes, dislikes everything, if we compromise even a bit, then worms of bourgeois vices would afflict us and slowly eat into the very vitals of our character. That would ultimately shake the very base of our character. So, he sounded this caution about the highest layer of leadership. And what is your responsibility in this regard? You must be ever vigilant to ensure that I and the leaders of my level do not degenerate. Both you and we should relentlessly wage this struggle as per the guidance of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. So, you should not respect us blindly. If you notice any fault or shortcoming in us when judged on the yardstick of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh’s teachings, you must immediately launch due struggle to save the leadership. Do not hesitate at all. I had said earlier also that if any comrade talks to me angrily, I do not find anything wrong in it. I take it that the concerned comrade expresses anger because he or she has respect for me. So, he or she is not afraid of me and can fearlessly give vent to his or her feelings.
We used to argue with Comrade Shibdas Ghosh like this. He taught us this. Nowadays, many Party workers do not speak before leader even though they have questions about him or her. A section of leaders also do not allow that. They become enraged. There is a leader sitting behind me on this dais about whom one junior comrade has said that since he had once criticized him, he does not talk with him freely as before. What does it indicate? Is he following Comrade Shibdas Ghosh’s teachings?
Say, one comrade has criticized me. If that comrade is wrong, I shall talk to him cordially and explain why his criticism is not correct. If there is substance in his criticism, I shall accept that happily. A leader like Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had said in a school of politics at Muzaffarpur that if the comrades found him deviating, they should drive him out of the Party. In this meeting, I am telling you all and through you the comrades of entire India to be critical about me with a view to helping me. I am not just an individual. I am now the General Secretary of the Party. Even slightest of mistake on my part can cause immense harm to the Party. You must follow this in respect of all the leaders at all levels. I am harping on this point before you all in this house.
I would like to point out one more thing. The leaders of the Party and the fronts should chalk out the programmes in such a way that the workers get time and opportunity to cultivate theoretical knowledge and mix with people. All leaders and cadres must relentlessly follow the 11-point programme. Mass bases must be created in various localities, industries and institutions. Importance ought to be assigned on organizing the proletariats and semi-proletariats. Our comrades must mix and talk with all sections of the common people—irrespective of whether they have definite political affiliation or are non-political, leftist-minded or rightist or even those who show disgust about politics. Through these associations, common talks and discussions as well as exchange of opinions, comrades must learn how to remove various confusions from their minds.
Leaders and cadres of SUCI(C) now have a very big responsibility
Now I would like to enter into another subject. Look at the world situation. On one hand, the communist movement is almost in disarray. Why? Because of ideological crisis. On the other hand, imperialism-capitalism which great Lenin had said hundred years back to be in the moribund stage is now lying in death-bed. It’s is like a stinking corpse emitting foul odour. US imperialism which once was a super-power and had introduced the doctrine of globalization is now so ridden with crisis that it itself is raising a protective wall. It would not allow foreign goods to enter its market nor would it permit entry of overseas workers. USA is facing severe market crisis. Unemployment is soaring by leaps and bounds. Stalin had pointed out that since consumer market is shrinking, the imperialists are resorting to militarization of economy and opening a military market. USA hitherto was surviving on this. Now over- militarization of economy has entailed a new crisis. So, the US imperialist rulers are telling NATO and its constituents like Germany, France, Britain and Italy to bear more financial responsibility for running this military alliance because USA would have to curtail its contribution. Why they have to say so? Because, US is now a highly indebted country. US sovereign debt is estimated to be over $21 trillion which is around 125% of its GDP. The balance of power is changing in the world. Capitalist China is now a big power. It is challenging the USA. Russia too is an imperialist power today and throwing challenge to the US. Russia and China along with some other countries are forming separate combination. USA from its economic interest is trying to impose sanctions on Russia. On the other hand, Germany and France are not agreeing to US proposals. There are so many contradictions among all these imperialist-capitalist powers. What is noteworthy is that all imperialist-capitalist countries, big or small, are increasing their military budgets. The imperialists are continuing local wars in the Middle East and Africa. They are also backing the armed fundamentalist forces and terrorist groups in various parts of the world. Each of them is building up economic or military alliances to buttress their respective interests. As against the Russia-China combination, US, Japan, Australia, India and Israel have formed a separate combination. Only 1% of the rich is owner of 99% of global wealth. Only 12 or 13 financial oligarchies are controlling the wealth and resources of the entire world. This is the situation. Millions and millions are unemployed, hungry in the world. Again movements like ‘Occupy Wall Street’ would surge forth. This movement alone had shaken the US imperialist rule. There is a spate of strikes and protest movements throughout Europe. Same is the situation in all other countries. The objective condition is such that people are longing for change. Spontaneous movements are bursting forth. But these movements are rudderless in absence of proper leadership and ideology.
Same is the scenario in our country. After the incident of brutal rape and murder of Nirbhaya, people’s protest agitation continued for months. Delhi unit of our Party was in that movement. But we did not have the necessary organizational strength to lead the movement. Recently, massive peasants’ movement burst forth in the BJP-led states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. There are sparkles of discontent among the workers, peasants, students, youths and women. Everyone is seeking change. But they are not aware of the kind of change that would emancipate them from this growing drudgery and suffering of life. Because, there is no proper leadership. It is here we can play an effective role. Only our Party can provide that leadership if we can develop ourselves as per the teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. We must take the pledge that once we go out of this hall, we would cease to be what we hitherto were. We must change ourselves. Otherwise, paying tribute to our great leader and teacher on 5 August would be pointless. Every comrade should release this struggle in his or her own sphere. Entire humanity is in the grip of crisis in every walk of life. There is no value, no human essence. Otherwise, can a 3-year old girl be raped? Can a father rape his daughter? Is it a civilized society? Where has capitalism brought the entire mankind! You would not get a Romain Rolland, Einstein or Bernard Shaw in the Western world today. Even one would not find another Jean Paul Satre. In our country also, you can no more find Rammohan, Vidyasagar, Phule, Vivekananda, Rabindranath, Saratchandra, Nazrul, Premchand, Subramania Bharati or Jyotiprasad.
Remember the call of our great leader
Under the circumstances, only Marxism can illumine the path. I will end by reading out one portion from a speech of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh delivered in 1971. At the end of that speech, he said, “In conclusion, I should say a few words on yet another point. Some influence of the present frustration in the democratic movement and among common people is seen to be casting its shadow on the mentality of a section of our workers, among good workers. Although they do not speak about it, some inertia is manifest in their activities. This should not happen to the revolutionary workers. We have become revolutionary workers so that we may help the people most in their hour of need. The people are suffering from frustration, so are the workers of the democratic movement. This is the worst time for people participating in the democratic movements. In these dark hours, it is the cadres of the revolutionary party who should tirelessly work to help them, and should step up their own initiative. When a car runs smooth and fast, one needs only to hold the steering wheel. It is when the car does not run well, that toil and utmost care are needed. The same holds true on the question of the political situation of the country and of the mentality of the people. The more adverse the situation, the more hardworking, active and upcoming with initiative should be the mode of existence of the revolutionary political workers. Else, the design of the reactionaries will be fulfilled. If we truly have this conviction that the people, despite being victims of onslaught, would rally in the arena of struggle again and again, but the struggle would be fruitless again and again and political parties of all shades would continue to exploit the grievances and disaffection of the people to serve their petty interest becoming viziers and kingpins, while despondency would engulf the people until the revolutionary party, the SUCI, emerges with adequate strength to provide proper leadership to guide the movements and the militant people along the correct course towards the historic culmination — if our workers truly believe this, then they should pursue their work with even greater determination in the face of the present spate of frustration. Not only of the party workers, the attitude even of the supporters and sympathizers of our party who cannot always put in as much work as the active workers do, should be: whatever we can do, after fulfilling our family and other obligations, whatever monetary and active support we can provide for the party work, we will do it and we will never say ‘no’. Or else, how shall we tackle the problems if, instead, the frustration prevalent in the society and in the democratic movement creeps into the mentality of our workers, leading organizers and leaders somewhat and they become afflicted with the habit of hackneyed and stereotyped work? Even a big party will have been disheartened at this. And we are small still. Despite the expansion of the party we are small still compared to what necessity demands in the context of acquiring sufficient strength to lead democratic movements in the country. Besides, there are attempts to corner us through all-out attack from all sides. In this situation, we must protect our strong bases and step up our activities and strengthen our organization by working among the frustrated and confused masses. If revolution is indeed what we mean, and we do not want to play with it, then it is time to stand up with great vigour and might. There is no sense in playing with this. If I remain in the revolutionary orbit but do not perform my duties, and I am with the party considering it to be correct but do not discharge my responsibilities — that will not do. This is fooling around, this has no use. You should deeply ponder over this point. Lastly, in order to effectively tackle the present situation precisely what I intend to remind you is that we need a powerful instrument for that. This powerful instrument is, first of all, steel-strong unity and unwavering morale of the party workers. They will have to shake off any feeling of frustration. It has to be ensured that the despair pervading the society and democratic movement does not cast its influence on them. Secondly, supporters and sympathizers should be exhorted to put in as much work as they can in their own way, to think out themselves ways and means to help the party. Thirdly, strongly adhere to and uphold the vital concept of leadership of the party. Fourthly, go to the people all the time, stay with them and try to build movements on their problems. Successfully attending to these four tasks will lend you invincible power and equip you with a powerful weapon such as will surely enable us to overcome this difficult situation.” 27Reminding you of this clarion call of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, I conclude here.
Sources of quotations:
1 (Why SUCI is the Only genuine communist party in India)
2 (Mass Movement in India and Tasks of the Youth)
3 (Tribute to a Revolutionary Character)
4 (Science of Marxism is the Scientific Dialectical Methodology)
5 (Self-criticism of the Communist Camp)
6 (The Tenth Congress of the Communist Party of China)
7 (Tribute to a Revolutionary leader)
8 (On preserving and establishing revolutionary leadership in workers’ movement)
9 (Why SUCI is the Only Genuine Communist Party in India)
10 (Why SUCI is the Only genuine communist party in India)
11 (Why SUCI is the Only genuine communist party in India)
12 (Why SUCI is the Only genuine communist party in India)
13 (Why SUCI is the Only genuine communist party in India)
14 (Science of Marxism is the Scientific Dialectical Methodology)
15 (Cultural Revolution of China)
16 (Why SUCI is the Only genuine communist party in India)
17 (Science of Marxism is the Scientific Dialectical Methodology)
18 (On Communist Code of Conduct)
19 (On Communist Code of Conduct)
20 (On Communist Code of Conduct)
21 (On Communist Code of Conduct)
22 (Free translation from ‘Some aspects of the struggle for developing a communist character’)
23 (Free translation from ‘Some aspects of the struggle for developing a communist character’)
24 (Free translation from unpublished work)
25 (Free translation from unpublished work
26 (Free translation from the book ‘Love and Sex-life—A Marxist Outlook’ in Bengali)
27 (Science of Marxism is the Scientific Dialectical Methodology)
Comrade Salil Chakraborty breathed his last
Comrade Salil Chakraborty, veteran member of West Bengal State Committee of the Party, SUCI (Communist) breathed his last on 13 October 2017 after prolonged treatment for 27 days at the Calcutta Heart Clinic and Hospital. He was 76.
In 1956 AIDSO earned victory in the student union election in Asutosh College in south Kolkata and since then, it continued to form the union there for several years to come, also taking a leading role in student movement of that time. Comrade Provash Ghosh, then a leading student organizer (now the General Secretary of the Party) had issued a call to college students for joining AIDSO. At his call and imbued with the revolutionary thoughts of the great Marxist thinker Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, many students of Asutosh College and elsewhere joined student movement under the banner of AIDSO. After taking admission in Asutosh College in 1957, Comrade Salil Chakraborty joined AIDSO and soon came out as one of their front-rankers, who by dint of his struggle became the Office secretary of AIDSO for a period, and a member of the West Bengal State Committee and later the All India Committee of the organization. It was at his initiative and editorship that students of Asutosh College brought out a wall magazine, Chhatra Sanhati ( Students’ Solidarity); he also had a significant role in publication of the Bengali organ of AIDSO with the same title. In 1962 AIDSO launched a powerful struggle against the Asutosh College authority on different important demands of students. The vindictive college authority expelled seven AIDSO organizers, including Comrade Chakraborty.
Imbued with the revolutionary thoughts of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, Comrade Chakraborty engaged himself in the struggle for building up himself as a whole time revolutionary cadre of the Party and started to live in a Party Centre, setting aside the lure of his affluent family background. During his long Party life, he sincerely discharged number of important responsibilities, he was assigned with, including those during the sustained student movement in 1958 against fee-hike, as also during the historic food movements of 1959 and 1966. When Comrade Subodh Banerjee, member Founding Central Committee of the Party was made the Labour Minister of the United Front government in 1967 and later PWD Minister in the second UF government in 1969, Comrade Chakraborty was given the charge of acting as the Personal Assistant (PA) to the minister, a responsibility he discharged with deftness and sincerity. In 1971, when the Party Press was established in fruition of untiring effort of the Party comrades and all kinds of assistance from the masses, Comrade Chakraborty was given the charge of the Press under the supervision of the Central Committee. From then, till 2009 he carried out this responsibility for 38 long years, with competence and efficiency.
By nature, Comrade Chakraborty was kind-hearted and emotional. He was ever-ready to extend all help to comrades and supporters hailing from poorer families, particularly the younger comrades in distress. He was soft-spoken and amiable, also to make friends and acquaintances with people at large from all sections of life and professions.
Comrade Salil Chakraborty was suffering from lung-infection since long and had developed kidney trouble later, with conditions fluctuating rapidly. Even dialysis advised by the team of doctors he was under, at the Calcutta Heart Clinic and Hospital, could not be carried out more than once because of problems related to blood pressure. Finally he succumbed at 1-30 pm on 13th afternoon. At the news of his demise, the Red Flags were kept half-mast in the state office of the Party and at all Party offices in West Bengal. His mortal remain was kept till the morning of 14 October, when it was brought to the Central office of the Party at 10 am for comrades, supporters and admirers to pay their tribute. There, floral tributes were paid to the departed comrade by Comrade Provash Ghosh, General Secretary, Comrade Ranjit Dhar, Polit Bureau member, Comrade Saumen Basu, Central Committee member and West Bengal State Secretary, other Central Committee members Comrade Sankar Saha and Comrade Chhaya Mukherjee, State Committee members and representatives of different district and regional committees and others. Cremation was carried out at the Keoratala burning ground of south Kolkata.