This is the speech delivered by Comrade Provash Ghosh, General Secretary, SUCI(C), in Bengali at the 39th Memorial Day meeting of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh held at Netaji indoor Stadium, Kolkata on 5 August, 2015. Responsibility for error in translation or inadequacy of expression, if any, lie with the Editorial Board
Comrade President, comrades and friends,
Hundreds of villages are drowned, thousands of families are virtually destitute because of highly inclement weather. Yet, overcoming all difficulties, you have come all the way from distant places of the state. Many among you are also affected by this incessant downpour, water logging and flood. But you have all assembled here out of your deep respect for Comrade Shibdas Ghosh and recollect and relearn his valuable teachings. As his student, I shall say a few words here. Comrade President has said in his inaugural speech that I am his worthy student. Meaning of the word ‘worthy’ is profound. So long as I live, I shall have to continue giving test of my capability. Then history will say whether I have been able to develop myself as his worthy student.
This very day causes so much emotional turmoil in us that it becomes difficult to dwell on all the aspects we intend to. There are some pains which do not have so much of outward manifestation. But with the passage of time, that pain becomes deeper and deeper with deeper realization. We call upon our workers to read the works of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. We ourselves also read. So do I. A few days back, while going through one of his speeches, I recalled a day’s incident. It was in 1974-75, a spontaneous prolonged tumultuous movement of the students and youths was going on in India against the rule of Indira Gandhi. That movement originated in Gujarat, spread across the entire Hindi-speaking belt and then extended to the whole country. The students of Bihar even boycotted education for two years. All the demands were democratic. But in absence of the leftists in the movement, the rightist forces were reaping benefit out of it. On the other hand, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh was making utmost endeavour to ensure that the combined left provided leadership to this movement. But the CPI openly supported Indira Gandhi while the CPI (M) extended its support covertly. In such a situation, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh ignoring his falling health was moving around the country so that the lefts could be brought to the leadership. By organizing meetings in different states, he was making a fervent appeal for conducting the movement with an anti-capitalist objective by forming people’s committees and volunteer corps. He also convinced Jayprakash Narayan, leader of the movement, about this. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh was very ill at that time. Doctors were advising him not to undertake so much of travel and physical exertion. At that time he said: I am in the revolutionary struggle for emancipating the poor and oppressed of this country. I cannot take rest. I exist, I live, I breathe for revolution. This is the sole purpose of my living. He did not take rest. Otherwise, perhaps, we would not have lost him at an age of 53 only.
Our source of inspiration is the revolutionary thoughts of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh
But CPI and CPI (M) could not be made to agree. Then, in order to carry forward the ideal of leftism in the movement from West Bengal, he gave a call of a youth conference under the banner of AIDYO in Suri town of Birbhum district in June, 1974. His objective was to build up people’s committees and volunteer corps so that the movement could surge forth in West Bengal with a left orientation. At his request, Jayprakash Narayan came down to Suri and addressed the open session. On 21 June, in the delegate session amidst severe thunderstorm and rain, he for the first time said: “I have been actively involved in political movements for long forty two years. Out of that, for thirty years I strove working tirelessly to build up the SUCI as a new type of party, a genuine Marxist-Leninist revolutionary party on this soil. I am not very old. But my health has already broken down from working untiringly to rear up party workers and develop the party. But all this has been for the sake of advancing the cause of revolution itself in this country…. when I started this party with just a handful of compatriots. Everybody laughed at us then. The CPI, then an undivided party, ridiculed us. They taunted, we had sprouted like a mushroom. They derided: if the SUCI is a party, then a bat also is a bird; how is it that they, too, would sit with us! The Forward Bloc, RSP and RCPI, everybody said that the SUCI was not a party at all, it was just a club. Even sitting with us could not be contemplated. I endured all this silently. I ignored all their ridicules and just proceeded along with firm resolve to build up the party.” 1 At the end of the said speech, he said: “I am unwell and short of breath. I feel very tired. I cannot continue with the speech any longer.” 1a. That was 21 June, 1975. Just after one year, he passed away on 5 August, 1976. At that time, emergency was promulgated in the country. Among those whom he tried to develop through tireless efforts, I am one. There are a few more at various layers of leadership of our Party. With a dream, he tried to develop us by exhausting himself little by little and in the process left us so early. How much have we been able to live upto his expectation and fulfil his dream of developing a revolutionary party will be proved by history. We are pledge-bound to history for that. This is what is continuously questioning my conscience.
This Party was founded in 1948. I got associated with it in 1950. I was then a school student. But I have witnessed what a hard arduous struggle this great leader had conducted in those days. In one of his discussions, he said: “I can still recollect those early days when we started building up the party —there were very few people to support us; 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, but we had no grievance for all this. For years together we shared a grass-mat only, and so many winters we passed like that. … How many days we went without food, but we felt ashamed to tell about it! That we could not arrange our provisions, we could not collect even the minimum was considered to be our own failing.” 2 Those days flash in my mind. I have seen him starving. Today the strength and influence of our Party is much more than those earlier days. There are thousands of workers. Support of lakhs and lakhs of people is rallied behind us. The Party has spread in almost all the states of the country. Right at this moment, memorial meetings are held in almost every state. Wherever we go, the Party workers and supporters try to arrange whatever best food they can afford for us. But once this great leader went without food, had to sleep on the footpath of Kolkata, on the platform of Sealdah Railway station or on the roof of Koley market adjacent to Sealdah station. Today some our leaders including me travel by car. The earning comrades have contributed to buy the cars for us. But, upto 1972, we could not arrange any car for Comrade Ghosh. I have seen Comrade Nihar Mukherjee knocking at his known circles for collecting tram or bus fare for Comrade Ghosh. Following the teachings of Comrade Ghosh, we remain ever alert not to fall a victim of comfort. Our Party even today collect Party funds from people through street collection and door to door collection. There is no news of ours in the bourgeois media. We organize so many massive meetings, rallies and movements. But those are not covered in the media. The bourgeois media do not give us publicity out of fear. Could that deter our growth? Our Party is growing based on huge mass support. What is the source of this success? The source is the revolutionary teachings and life struggle of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh.
Some people including some of the leftist leaders often ask me how is that we are growing when other left parties are disintegrating, not able to attract youths and students? They ask how you are getting so many good and bright young boys and girls. Cadres of no other party show the grit and determination that writ large on the faces of your workers. The decent cultured behaviour and unassuming nature of your workers are never witnessed in the cadres of any other party. Where do you derive strength from? I tell them only one thing. The source is the revolutionary thoughts of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. As a worthy soldier of the Indian renaissance movement and freedom struggle, this great leader in ever quest for truth embraced Marxism as guiding philosophy of life. In course of conducting struggle along true Marxist line covering all aspects of life, he emerged as the worthy continuer of Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin-Mao Zedong, developed and enriched Marxism-Leninism and founded the genuine revolutionary party of the proletariat on this soil. His teachings, life struggle and cultivation of knowledge have provided a distinctive character to our Party. As we shall recall his teachings on this Memorial Day, proper respect will be shown to him only if we can adopt his ideal in life and keep ourselves ever engaged in the struggle for fulfilling his dream. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had taught us that revolutionary politics is a higher human element. We ought to carry in our heart unbound love and affection for the millions of unknown oppressed people. From this love and affection would come our commitment towards revolution. So revolutionaries do not consider anything as impossible, do not consider any obstacle as insurmountable. They carry on the revolutionary activities even staking their life.
Only revolutionary life is most noble
He has taught us that only revolutionary life is most noble, honourable. All other lives are for selling the self, destroying their own conscience. If one somehow leads a life of luxury and comfort devoid of human essence, it is no different from the life led by an animal. An animal also looks for a shelter, searches for food and procreates following biological process. In animal life, there is no conscience, no thinking faculty, no sense of value or morality. But, human life consists of conscience and human values, human essence. Human essence, human qualities are not endowed automatically. These are to be acquired through struggle. In a given stage of civilization, a definite higher ideology and a higher culture emerge in the interest of social progress and advancement of civilization. This higher ideology and higher culture give birth to human essence and human qualities. That is why, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh raised the question as to why have we all embraced this ideology and course of life? Then he himself provided the answer. He said that all greatmen who in their respective times had thought of changing the society possessed higher human qualities and nobler feelings of heart. That was the source of their strength and struggling spirit. All of those who fought and sacrificed their lives during the freedom struggle, pursued revolutionary line possessed these nobler feelings of heart. Same is true for the era of proletarian revolution. He taught that in this struggle, there are obstacles, pain, risk of being attacked as well as defeats and reverses. But, this is the only course to live and die with honour and dignity. He said all these in the Cuttack conference of the students in 1974. He added that those who come to hold aloft the banner of revolution are always few in numbers during the initial period. But they remain firm and unwavering in their resolve.
Earlier, in such meetings, I as well as other members of our Polit Bureau had dwelt on the significance of prevailing economic and political situations and our task. We shall have to do that in future also. But today, I do not like to enter into those subjects. Only I would like to state that throughout the imperialist-capitalist world including our country, economic-political-social-cultural life as also family and individual lives have come to the brink of ruination. The bourgeois leaders are unable to solve the growing crises with various kinds of quackery. Spontaneous protest agitations are bursting forth everywhere. Could anyone imagine that thousands of people would continue the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in USA for so many months, the “Arab Spring” movement would sustain in the Arab world so long or one after another massive strikes would rock Europe and other countries? When the entire situation goes beyond endurance, people come out to the streets in such a manner. In our country also, sporadic spontaneous movements are no less in number. These movements are surging forth, gathering momentum and then fizzling out. Again there is surge of a movement and again it is dying down after some days. What is the reason for that? Comrade Ghosh had shown that no movement can sustain and reach its logical culmination unless it is guided by revolutionary ideology, is based on revolutionary culture and is developed under the leadership of correct revolutionary party.
Strength of a true Marxist party lies in the fire of working class struggle and mass movement
When we were associated with the Party, there was tremendous attraction towards Marxism and communism among the educated people as well as the general masses due to the impact of onward march of socialist system and world communist movement led by great Stalin. But, there was not that much of cultivation of the theoretical aspects of Marxism in this country then. That task was shouldered and discharged by Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. But how much influence our Party then had on the masses? Even today, how much of his illumining thoughts we have been able to carry to the people? In those days, undivided CPI and later the CPI (M) had been big parties. But let alone educating the masses with the teachings of Marxism, they themselves avoided cult of theory. It is a fact that among the people of our country even during the days of freedom movement, there has not been that much of inclination towards cultivation of theory or understanding politics. The leaders of the freedom movement also did not take up that job in right earnest. It was the boys and girls from poor families who fought for freedom and sacrificed their lives, not the boys and girls of the Tata or Birla families. However, keeping Gandhiji in the forefront, the Tatas and Birlas had appropriated the leadership of the movement to thwart working class revolution. Because, Soviet revolution had already taken place by that time. So, they were very much afraid. But, since there was no cult of politics among the masses, they blindly followed the leadership. Later, in the same way, they first rallied behind undivided CPI and then CPI (M). People used to think that since they had carried the ‘communist’ signboard and called themselves ‘Marxists’, they were the communists. Who cared to know that Lenin had said one should not be held as a communist only because one raises slogans in favour of Marxism or waives red flag. It has to be verified whether one is really a communist or not. Marx and Engels belonged to the First International. But when it suffered from deviation, they themselves dismantled it. Then Engels built up the Second International. But when that too degenerated after his death, Lenin, his worthy disciple, formed the Third International. RSDLP was known as the Marxist party on Russian soil. Lenin himself was a leader of that party. But later he had shown that the very RSDLP had been pursuing anti-Marxist line and thus had degenerated. So he built up correct revolutionary party following correct Marxist methodology. In our country, those who ran after CPI or CPI (M) had never taken these facts into cognizance, never cared to examine if the parties they were rallying behind were really communist or not. Just see for yourselves what disastrous condition these parties are in today. Of late, I met one veteran leader of CPI (M). I asked him: Why are you in such a precarious condition now? In 1972, you had faced much more attack in West Bengal. But that time, I had not seen you to be in such distress. You have run the government of West Bengal uninterruptedly for 34 long years and thereafter had lost in only one election. Simply that electoral defeat brought you to such a catastrophic state? He replied that being so many years in power, their party has started rotting. They were never Marxists. Yet in the 1950s and ’60s, they, in electoral interest no doubt, used to struggle a bit, used to take part in the movements. At that time, their workers faced bullet, police atrocities and went to jail. But in 34 years they acquired so much of power that once dislodged from government, they have become virtually powerless.
Prakash Karat, former General Secretary of CPI (M) came to have a talk with us. I told him that in order to free left movement from current crisis, it is necessary to build up movements even by shedding blood like the ones of 1950s. We need to develop militant class and mass struggles. I was invited to the CPI (M) party congress. There also I said neither the Congress nor the regional bourgeois parties are secular or democratic by any count. I explained why I hold this view. The leftists will have to develop militant movement based on people’s demands. I said this from the rostrum of their party congress. I also pointed out that as per Lenin’s teaching, the strength of a revolutionary party lies not in the number of MLAs or MPs but in the fire of working class struggle and mass movement. But they do not have mind to understand this. They are busy searching secularism in the Congress, democratic and progressive forces from among the bourgeois parties. Because, anyhow they want to win the election and come back to power. Unless they are in governmental power, they would have no power. Their party has no future unless there is increase in the number of MLAs and MPs. Such is their condition today. On the contrary, based on Comrade Shibdas Ghosh’s teachings, we say that if we have MLAs and MPs, well and good. If we do not have a single MLA or MP, it would not matter much. We want valiant characters like Kshudiram and Bhagat Singh who, if necessary, would hold aloft the flag of revolution even while on the pedestal of the gallows. I had said this in our last Party Foundation Day meeting on 24 April also.
People need to imbibe the imperative need of revolution
The biggest problem today is that the crisis-stricken people are not giving serious thought as to what the cause of the crisis is and what the remedial course is. The ruling capitalist class has killed the very mind to deeply think, analyze and understand. Once there was to some extent a thinking mind which valued logic and reason. But that very mind virtually does not exist anymore. There is no obligation to the society, no serious thinking about the country. Forget about the neighbours, there is not even any concern about one’s own family. There is only abundance of self-centredness and consumerist thoughts. This is the harrowing spectacle of the crisis in the realm of culture, values, ethics and morality precipitated by moribund capitalism today. In such a milieu, the objective of bringing about anti-capitalist revolution cannot be accomplished only by organizing meetings, processions and agitating over a few demands. The task is much stiffer today. When we had started our political life, there indeed were obstacles. But those obstacles were of different nature. The obstacle today is much bigger. As I had said earlier, there was a time when the very word Marxism used to attract a good number of people. Gone are those days. So, those who will carry the flag of revolution today ought to reflect a very high standard of realization of Marxism, ought to engage themselves in deep study of Marxism. Today the revolutionary workers would need to have widespread mass contact. They have to conquer the hearts of the people of the localities or villages they live in. This conquering would have to be by dint of their character, conduct, human essence and remaining by the side of the people during their woes, troubles and difficulties. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had taught that the very existence of a revolutionary means that wherever he stays or works, he wins people with heartfelt love and affection. The task imperative is that through that love and affection, the thinking faculty of the people should be aroused, thought process should be fine-tuned and eagerness developed among them for cult of theory. At the same time whenever there is an attack on their life and livelihood—assault of ongoing crisis and growing problems, assault by the government, assault by the factory owner, assault of corruption of the panchayets, assault on education and healthcare and atrocities against women, etc.—movements have to be developed against all these attacks. But only building up movements would not suffice. Even while in the vortex of movement, people should be taught “why Marxism is required”, “why anti-capitalist revolution is a necessity” and “why socialism is needed”. They are to be told about all these by way of linking with their daily problems in such a manner that they are able to understand and accept. This task is very difficult.
I have told you that from 1930s to ‘60s, there was tremendous attraction towards Marxism and socialism not only among the educated section but also among the common people. After the crucial defeat of the fascist axis of Germany-Italy-Japan, the worst enemy of mankind, in the Second World War at the hands of the Red Army led by Stalin, this attraction increased manifold. This attraction towards Marxism and socialism grew so fast because of establishment of socialism in Russia, China, North Korea and the entire East Europe, the momentum gathered by the anti-imperialist national liberation struggles of Asia, Africa and Latin America with the backing of the powerful socialist camp and emergence of the socialist camp as bulwark of world peace. But the situation turned different after dismantling of socialism because of revisionist conspiracy and counter-revolution engineered by the capitalist forces and an incessant vilification campaign against Stalin. In this situation, it is extremely difficult to develop revolutionary movement and build up public opinion in favour of Marxism and socialism. So I want to tell you why Marxism-Leninism-Shibdas Ghosh Thought is the invincible weapon in the fight for emancipation.
Can religious thoughts help today?
You need to know, the very idea that religious thoughts were in existence in human society right from the beginning is incorrect. There is no such evidence in history. Even today the aboriginal clans living in Africa and the Jaroas of Andamans do not know what is god. They do not worship any god. In the primitive society, there was no stable property, no concept of ownership of property, no division between rich and poor and no divide between exploiters and exploited. At that time, men used to fight against nature for survival. In order to tame or control the various natural forces, they used to practice various appeasing methods. These methods of appeasement with a belief of propitiating the forces of nature are known as ancient magic. But there was no thought of any supernatural entity or concept of god among them. Their thought was materialistic. Vivekananda who is revered by the theists as well as us, the atheists, himself admitted this. In his words, “The first was in search in External nature for the truths of the universe; it was an attempt to get the solution of the problems of life from the material world.” 3 You also need to know another thing. It is not correct that in ancient India, there was only a cult of spiritual thought and not materialistic thought. In the academic syllabus of philosophy of this country, the philosophies of saint Charbak and Lokayat are taught as materialist philosophies of ancient India. In the Rig-Veda, the first book of the Veda series, the discussions were mainly centred on the natural world. Many of you may not know that Buddha though is called Bhagawan, was a non-believer in Bhagawan. Even Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, also did not believe in god. In this country, it was once believed that everything of this material world was composed of Pancha Bhuta or five basic elements, Kshiti (earth), Apa (water), Teja (fire), Marut (air) and Byom (sky). Some believed in only four elements excluding Byom. Saint Kanada had said that everything was composed of atoms. The important role of zero in mathematics was also first discovered in this country.
We, as Marxists, acknowledge role of religion in history which bourgeois thinkers denied
But does that mean that religious thoughts did not play any important role? We, the Marxists, do not subscribe to this view. Rather we, the Marxists, hold the religious preachers of yester years in high esteem. We also appreciate the progressive role religion once played in history. We are of the belief that at one particular stage, religion helped social progress. On the contrary, when the bourgeois thinkers like Bacon, Hobbs, Lock, Spinoza, Kant, Feuerbach and others were fighting for renaissance which paved the ground for establishing bourgeois democratic republic or parliamentary system by overthrowing religion-based monarchical feudal system and trying to free the serfs from the clutches of religious thoughts, they, in their bid to fight religion, held that religion was harmful to the mankind, subversive of truth and hence was to be renounced. At that time, they showed disrespect to the earlier religious preachers also. Because, they had no clue whatsoever as to when did religion appear in human society and for meeting what social necessity. It was great Marx who for the first time provided answer to this question by analyzing history based on scientific outlook. Showing profound respect, Marx said: “Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and also the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of the heartless world and the soul of the soulless conditions.” 4 About his next sentence, I shall discuss later. Great Engels held that: “Both Christianity and the workers’ socialism preach forthcoming salvation from bondage and misery; Christianity places this salvation in a life beyond, after death, in heaven; socialism places it in this world, in a transformation of society.” 5 While discussing the fight of Christianity and Islam against the slave-master system, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh also observed: “It was the religion at a particular stage of social development that helped in furthering the concept of morals and ethics, the sense of values, the concept of right and wrong, the spirit of service to others and not despising anyone. As a result, a sense of discipline grew which helped to bring about consolidation and cohesion in society. From this angle too, religion played a role in social development.” 6
So, you can see for yourselves with what profound respect the Marxist thinkers had referred to the historic role of religion at one point of time in human civilization. Unfortunately, there is so much of canard spread against the Marxists on this question. Marxism only has shown using science as tool how a particular thought or idea appears at a particular stage of history. The idealists or the spiritualists believe that thought comes to human mind from a supra-material world of ideas or super-mind. They think that a super mind controls human mind; divine thoughts originate in the minds of honest persons. So, those thoughts are infallible, inviolable and eternal truth. The materialists of earlier times also in absence of necessary development of science could not say anything more than that thought originates from matter. During the European renaissance, mechanical materialists had described human being and human mind as specific forms of machine. Using science, Marx was first to refute the idealist Hegel and say: “The ideal is nothing else than material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought.” 7 Based on the latest discoveries of modern science, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, his worthy student, explained that: “That matter is prior to mind and it exists independently of consciousness is now established beyond doubt. We also know now that, through the sense organs, the external world or the objective reality comes into interaction with the human brain with its distinctive power of translation and it is through this process that thoughts and ideas arise.”8 He further showed: “Even freedom of the mind has its limits. These limits arise from two sides. One is the concrete surroundings. The other is the method of thinking, that is, the process through which one’s mode of thinking has developed, in a manner known or unknown to one — that process limits freedom of one’s mind or thinking. 9So it is observed that though the objective material conditions were in the main same, because of fundamental difference in the thinking process or outlook, there were so many differences in the thoughts of Vidyasagar and Ramakrishna-Bankimchandra, of Rabindranath and Saratchandra, of Gandhiji and Subhaschandra. Based on Marxian outlook, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had shown that in the primitive society, the material condition was not conducive to emergence of the concept of god. But in the later stage, there appeared stable property and the slave and slave master relationship and society began to be governed as per the order of and rules framed by the slave masters. The slave masters in the interest of their exploitation declared that their orders and dictates are absolute and final. They treated the slaves as animals and subjected them to cruel oppression and repression. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh showed that the wails and woes of these oppressed slaves had caused immense pain among some of the greatmen of that time. They observed that the society was running more or less in a disciplined manner because the rules laid down by the slave masters were being obeyed. On the other hand, the world around them was also governed by some rules. Sunrise and sunset, day and night, the cycle of seasons, ebb and tide, birth and death— all were coming in an orderly manner. So, there ought to be a ruler who is directing everything. He is the master of the world, creator of everything including the slaves and the slave masters. Hence his orders would have to be obeyed by both the slaves as well as the slave masters. What was his order, according to them? After a lot of thinking, the conclusion they arrived at based on pure belief was that these were orders of god or Allah, since both the slaves and the slave masters were children of god, the slave masters ought to obey the divine order and rule. It is here we get proof of their immense love for people as well as their genius. Though god never existed in reality, still the thoughtful mind they manifested for welfare of human beings commands our respect.
Raged and incensed, the slave masters attacked the religious preachers, killed many of them. Many others died in starvation. Today, the religious shrines—temples, mosques, churches—possess so much of property. The clergies and priests there lead so lavish a life. It is irony of history that while the great founders of different religions had to face starvation and persecution and were even murdered by the then ruling exploiters, those who claim to be their real representatives today and seating at the helm of big temples, mosques and churches having huge wealth, are leading luxurious life patronized by the present ruling exploiting class. In the earlier days, there was not a single injustice which the religious preachers did not fight against. Today, there are so many oppressions and injustice in the society. Several lakhs of people are dying of hunger, going without medical treatment, committing suicide because of starvation. So many youths are suffering from the scourge of unemployment, so many women including girl children and aged females are being raped and gang-raped. Are the priests or clergies of any temple, mosque or church rising in protest, let alone fighting against all these social maladies, sins and evils? If Christ, Muhammad, Sankaracharya, Chaitanya or Vivekananda, let us presume for argument’s sake, were alive today, would have they closed their eyes and remained absorbed in divine prayer or have called for taking up cudgels against all these evils? Rather, more exacerbated is religious frenzy, more is the number of self-styled godmen swelling and more addition is in the number of religious places and more spurts we find in injustice and irreligious impious things. On the other hand, capitalism which in the period of renaissance and establishment of parliamentary democracy fought against religion, is, in its present reactionary stage, trying to keep people plunged in blind religious faith. Because, during its rising period, religion was its enemy. But today in its dying phase, it finds in religion a bosom friend. Through religion, the poor can be convinced today that “everything is pre-ordained”, “irony of faith”, “divine contemplation” or “destiny”, “fallout of the sin committed in previous life”, “rich and poor are creations of god”, “ endurance of all pains and sorrows with a smiling face would pave the road to heaven after death” and such other fatalistic superstitious thoughts and bigotry. That is why, Marx, at the end of what I have quoted earlier, said that “religion is an opium to the people”. It means that the oppressive bourgeoisie like earlier period of feudal kingdom is using religion as opium to keep people besieged. There is another point. Is there any discussion in any of the scriptures about the problems like closure of factories, retrenchment, unemployment, price rise, tax hike, rising cost of education and healthcare, snatching of democratic rights or atrocities on and rape of women which are devastating the people today? Is there any directive in the Gita- Ramayana-Mahabharata-Bible-Koran about what is capitalism, what is imperialism, what is socialism, what is parliamentary democracy, which politics or political party is to be supported, etc.? No, there is not because it is not possible. These problems or questions did not appear in the society at that time. So, these thoughts did not come in the minds of the then religious preachers. Whatever they had said, they said in the then perspective. That is why, religion cannot solve the burning problems of life today. Rather, religion is being used by the exploiter bourgeois class to prolong its obsolete oppressive reactionary class rule. In spite of that, we believe that the honest believers in religion who do not use religion for commercial gain or appease the capitalists-businessmen-blackmarketers for obtaining financial assistance to run the religious organizations, will to some extent come and join struggle against injustice and oppression of the present day.
Can ideals of Vivekananda illumine the path?
Now, I shall try to discuss briefly the ideals of Vivekananda, Gandhiji and Rabindranath. They are all revered by us as they were greatmen, honest and desired wellbeing of the people. I am saying what I as a student of Marxism-Leninism-Shibdas Ghosh Thought have understood. Before I come to Vivekananda, it is necessary that I should say a few words about a great personality who was highly respected by Vivekananda and other great sons of the soil. He is Pandit Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar who acquired the titles of “Pandit’ and “Vidyasagar’ by deeply studying all religious Sanskrit scriptures (shastras). His was a time when renaissance movement in Europe was in the last phase. Based on the discoveries of science of that time, the exponents of mechanical materialism, agnosticism and secular humanism were rigorously fighting against the religious thoughts. On the other hand, this country was then in the grip of British rule and pestered by medieval, feudal and religious oppression-repression. Industrial capital was at its infancy. National thought was just sprouting. In this backdrop, this highly educated and erudite personality well versed in the shastras and well acquainted with the thoughts of western renaissance through the vehicle of English language which he learnt meticulously only at an age of 21, informed the British government in 1853 that,”…the Vedanta and Sankhya are false systems of philosophy…Whilst teaching these in the Sanskrit course, we should oppose them by sound philosophy in the English course to counteract these influences… wherever the light of knowledge of modern Europe is reaching to whatever extent, there is proportionate erosion in the influence of education of the ancient shastras of this country. So, this education of modern Europe should be spread more… Geography, History, Biography, Arithmetic, Geometry, Natural Philosophy, Moral Philosophy, Political Economy and Physiology should be taught… We want teachers who know both the Bengali and the English languages and at the same time are free from religious prejudices.”10 The then government did not agree to that. Vidyasagar did not believe in god. There was no discussion about god in the text books written by him. This invited severe criticism and Bishop Murdoch, the British government-appointed observer, called Vidyasagar a “rank materialist”. In order to pay his respect to atheist Vidyasagar, even Ramakrishna went to his house to invite him for visiting the Kali temple in Dakshineswar. But, Vidyasagar did not go. Because, he did not believe in temple, idolatry or religious worship. Many of us are not aware of these facts. Vivekananda appeared on the scene after several decades of Vidyasagar. At that time, the objective situation of both Europe and this country had changed considerably. Renaissance stage was over in Europe. Capitalist crisis was surfacing. Workers’ agitation was surging forth. In 1871, the working class of France captured power for a few months through a historic struggle shedding blood. The ruling French bourgeoisie which once raised the slogan of equality, liberty and fraternity took thousands of protesting workers to places of execution and killed them. Capitalism was then moving towards monopoly stage and was haunted by the fear-complex of working class revolution. So it was stimulating revival of old obsolete religious thoughts in place of rational scientific thoughts which it encouraged earlier. A great humanist like Tolstoy held science and industrial revolution responsible for all crises generated by capitalism. So, he gave call for bringing back religious thoughts. A section of the religion-lovers in Europe was then showing affinity towards the Gita, Veda and Vedanta. On the other hand, the Christian missionaries here were then carrying out continuous propaganda that India was in uncivilized barbarian stage and they had only brought enlightenment from the West. Educated Brahma community also held the Hindus as uncivilized and settled in the cities as separate sect. An ultra group belonging to Young Bengal was then repenting that what a sin they had committed to be born in India and not in Europe. In the process, this Young Bengal group virtually turned into native Europeans. Alongside, industrial capital of this country then had entered its youth from adolescence and nationalist thoughts had begun to spring.
As powerful exponent of this rising nationalism, Vivekananda had emerged and engaged himself in establishing the supremacy of India. Through him, humiliated nationalism in pursuit of proving supremacy of India looked back to ancient India. He showed that when the entire Europe was almost in the state of jungle rule, cultivation of powerful philosophy of the Veda and Vedanta was going on here. So, while holding high the flag of powerful nationalism in one hand, he projected the infirm obsolete Vedanta with his other hand and said that ‘while we need to take science from the West, the West in turn should be given the Vedanta’. And he tried to seek answer to all questions and solution of all problems based on the outlook provided by the idealistic Vedantic philosophy. So, while Vidyasagar wanted to free the mind from the influence of the Vedanta considering it as a false system of philosophy, Vivekananda’s mission was to prove the supremacy of the same Vedanta.
On creation of the universe, Vivekananda said: “Here is the word Sristi, which expresses the universe. Mark that the word does not mean creation. I am helpless in talking English; I have to translate the Sanskrit words as best as I can. It is Sristi, projection…All the forces whether you can call them gravitation, or attraction, or repulsion, whether expressing themselves as heat, or electricity, or magnetism, are nothing but the variations of that unit energy. Whether they express themselves as thought, reflected from Antahkaran, the inner organs of man, or as action from an external organ, the unit from which they spring it what is called the Prana. Again, what is called Prana? Prana is Spandana or vibration. When all this universe shall have resolved back into its primal stage, what becomes of this infinite force? Do they think that it becomes extinct? Of course, not. If it became extinct, what would be the cause of the next wave, because motion is going in wave forms rising, falling, rising again, falling again,… And what becomes of what you call matter? The forces permeate all matter, which all dissolve into Akasha which is the primal matter. Akasha is the primal form of matter. This Akasha vibrates under the action of Prana; and when the next Sristi is coming up, as the vibration becomes quicker, the Akasha is lashed into all these forms which we call suns, and moons, and systems…Gross matter is the last to emerge and the most external, and this gross matter had the finer matter before it. Yet we see that the whole thing has been resolved into two, but there is not yet a final unity. There is the unity of force, Prana; there is the unity of matter called Akasha. Is there any unity to be found among them again? Can they be melted into one? Our modern science is mute here, it has not yet found its way out; and it is doing so, just as it has been slowly finding the same old Prana and the same ancient Akasha, it will have to move along the same lines. The next unity is the omnipresent impersonal Being known by its old mythological name as Brahma, the four-headed Brahma, and psychologically called Mahat. This is where the two unite…At the end of a cycle, everything becomes finer and finer and is resolved back into primal state from which it sprang, and there it remains for a time, quiescent, ready to spring forth again. That is called Sristi, projection.” 12 By this he said, “Absolute Brahma is the only truth’’. All others are merely its projections. According to Vivekananda, Prana and Akasha are generated from Brahma or Mahat. Prana is the energy and Akasha is matter. In initial stage, both remain finer. Afterwards, Prana comes in contact with Akasha, creates Spandan or vibration. Then Akasha turns grosser and grosser. In this way, sun moon, and all others emerged. Again both in turn become finer and finer and dissolve into Brahma. This goes on in a cyclic order. Hence, everything is pre-determined. Both Prana and Akasha are generated from Brahma, grow bigger and bigger, then turn finer and finer, and then again get dissolved into Brahma. Again the process is repeated.
Can this concept be accepted in the light of the epoch-making discoveries of modern science? Though not exactly similar, still I like to refer to another idealist philosopher of the West, Hegel. What was the concept of Hegel I put it here in the language of Great Engels:”With Hegel, … for what we cognize in the real world is precisely its thought content – that which makes the world a gradual realization of the absolute idea, which absolute idea has existed somewhere from eternity, independent of the world and before the world. … According to him, nature, as a mere ‘alienation’ of the idea is incapable of development in time, capable only of extending its manifoldness in space, so that it displays simultaneously and alongside of the another all the stages of development comprised in it, and is condemned to an eternal repetition of the same processes.” 44 Can these views be accepted after so many discoveries of modern science?
Being influenced by the Western idea of socialism, Vivekananda said: “Human society in turn is governed by the four castes—the priests, the soldiers, the traders and the labourers… Last will come the labourers’ (Sudras) rule. Its advantages will be the distribution of physical comforts—its disadvantages, (perhaps) the lowering culture. There will be great distribution of ordinary culture, but extraordinary geniuses will be less and less.” 45 Therefore, according to him, although under the rule of the Sudras or the labourers, there will be ‘distribution of physical or material comforts’, there will be ‘lowering of culture’ and knowledge. This view of his also comes from the idea that difference between intellectual power and physical labour is eternal. Further, according to his theory of ‘creation’, rules of Bramhins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Sudras will come again and again in cycles. Can it be accepted as historical and logical? If it is to be accepted for argument’s sake, then it is to be presumed that primitive society, feudalism and socialism will appear again and again in cycles.
See how belief in the Vedanta caused so much of problem in such a great person like him. On the one hand, he in praise of modern science said that: “We know what the opinion of the modern astronomists and scientists about this cosmic world is. We also know what harm it has caused to the old religionists. As newer scientific discoveries are coming to the fore, it seems one after bombs are hurled at their homes.” 46 On the other hand, the same Vivekananda observed that “We say Newton discovered gravitation. Was it sitting anywhere in a corner waiting for him? It was in his own mind; the time came and he found it out. All knowledge that the world has ever received comes from the mind; the infinite library of the universe is in your own mind. The external world is simply the suggestion, the occasion, which sets you to study your own mind, but the object of your study is always your own mind. The falling of an apple gave the suggestion to Newton… He rearranged all the previous links of thought in his mind and discovered a new link among them, which we call the law of gravitation”. 13 As per this analysis of Vivekananda, anyone could have discovered the theory of gravitation ten thousand years back. That means all the important scientific discoveries of Galileo, Newton, Einstein, Planck, Heisenberg as well as of Jagadish Bose, Prafulla Ray, Satyen Bose, Meghnad Saha, C V Raman or Ramanujam or the concept of modern democracy, humanist thoughts, parliamentary democracy and socialism—anything and everything could have happened or theorized in the ancient age or in the slave-master society. From Socrates to Plato, Christ or Sankaracharya—anyone could discover them. Only what was needed was a stimulant like the ‘fall of the apple’. Just think, is it in accordance with science or logical? He believed that Atma or Paramatma (Spirit or Supreme Spirit) or Brahma resides in everything, in every human being. And since Brahma is the absolute truth, eternal, immortal and this absolute truth is residing in everybody from time immemorial, no new truth can be discovered.
On the contrary, see how Vivekananda, an outstanding humanitarian, on being moved by the cry of the hungry million is deploring the rich in an angry voice: “I shall consider those who are educated at the cost of these myriads of poor and ignorant but do not even look at them, as traitors. …So long as twenty crores of Indians will lead life of a hungry animal, I shall call those rich who are enjoying a grandiose life by earning money through squeezing these hapless, as sinful rascals.” 14 He also said, “It is bread that the suffering millions of burning India cry out for with parched throats. They ask us for bread, but we give them stones. It is an insult to a starving people to offer them religion; it is an insult to a starving man to teach him metaphysics.” 15 Restless in pain seeing the suffering of the hungry myriads, he made lot of such comments. At the same time, Vivekananda, an ardent believer in the Vedanta said in his Lahore speech in 1897: “Whether you know it or not, through all hands you work, through all feet you move, you are the king enjoying in the palace, you are the beggar leading that miserable existence in the street; you are in the ignorant as well as in the learned, you are in the man who is weak, and you are in the strong; know this and be sympathetic. And that is why we must not hurt others. That is why I do not even care whether I have to starve, because there will be millions of mouths eating at the same time, and they are all mine. Therefore I should not care what becomes of me and mine, for the whole universe is mine…Herein is morality. Here, in Advaita alone, is morality explained.” 16 This is how Vedantic Vivekananda contradicted Humanitarian Vivekananda. As a believer of the monotheist Vedanta, he thought Brahma, the Supreme, is the only truth and that Brahma is residing in everyone. So, according to this belief of his, there is no difference between the Prince and the Pauper, the educated and the uneducated, the hungry and the one enjoying grand feast. Everyone is one and the same—expression of the same Brahma. So, no one can have any problem. What a contradiction! Nationalist Humanitarian Vivekananda was roaring like a lion in protest against the oppression and privation prevailing in the society while another Vivekananda entangled in the Vedantic thoughts was saying that ‘the material world is untruth, Brahma is the only truth’. Hence there is no pain or sorrow in reality. In absence of scientific outlook, what tragic a consequence has been of such a great man!
It is worth mentioning in this connection that Sister Nivedita, his best disciple, had joined and actively helped the revolutionary movement in Bengal during its beginning phase by severing her association with Ramkrishna Mission. Dr. Bhupendra Nath Dutta, his beloved younger brother, who respected Vivekananda very much also did not associate himself with Ramkrishna Mission but joined the revolutionary movement and later accepted Marxism. Also worth noting is another fact. Hemchandra Ghosh, a very respected revolutionary leader of freedom movement, had written in his autobiography that when he was a senior school student, he alongwith a group of other students met Vivekananda in Dhaka city of undivided Bengal and expressed desire to join religious movement. Vivekananda rebuked them and commented that in a country ruled by foreign power, only religion is to fight for freedom. Thus, Vivekananda roused many youths with patriotic feeling. It cannot also be ruled out that had he lived for a few more years, perhaps he would have become the pioneer of struggle against Lord Curzon’s heinous scheme of partitioning Bengal. Many early revolutionaries were inspired by Vivekananda but with the Gita and the Vedanta in their hands. This is how Indian nationalism developed with a Hindu religion orientation which was further strengthened by Gandhiji with his concept of non-violence.
It is learnt that seeing the agonizing situation all around and gravely pained at non-fulfilment of his dream, he used to express much sorrow immediately before his premature death. Had he carried the thoughts of Vidyasagar and struggled on that line, India would have got a different greater Vivekananda. The situation of the country would have been different. Holding Vivekananda in high esteem, I would like to benignly ask whether pursuit of his thoughts would solve the problems of the country?
Can Gandhism solve our problems?
Now examine the thoughts of Gandhiji. Regarding the source of his thoughts, Gandhiji himself had said: “My claim to hear the Voice of God is no new a claim….I was not dreaming at the time I heard the Voice. The hearing of the Voice was preceded by a terrific struggle within me. Suddenly the Voice came upon me. I listened, made certain that it was the Voice, and the struggle ceased. I was calm….this was between 11 and 12 midnight. I felt refreshed and began to write the note about it which the readers must have seen. … I have no further evidence to convince the sceptic. …But I can say this that not the unanimous verdict of the whole world against me could shake me from the belief that what I heard was the true Voice of God.” 17 This is what he said in the twentieth century being overwhelmed by blind faith. Because he too believed that mind is guided by super-mind. If one prays with an honest mind, one can hear divine voice serving gospels. Giving recognition to these gospels, he said: “Even if I was assured that we could have independence by means of violence, I should refuse to have it. It won’t be real independence.” 18 It is for this reason that he considered the armed revolutionism of Subhaschandra-Bhagat Singh more dangerous than British imperialism and opposed it. He rejected scientific methodology of analysis. So he dismissed the truth that in a class-divided society, thought of any person cannot but be a class-thought. Despite having an honest mind, he could not realize that during the freedom movement, it was the fear complex of working class revolution of the Indian bourgeoisie in class divided India which gave birth to religious blindness and opposition to armed revolutionism in his mind. Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had explained that later. Presuming that his exhortations were reflecting divine voice, Gandhiji said: “God is the creator of both capitalist owners and the workers. While capitalist has the power of intellect, worker has the power of labour of the limbs’….We invite the capitalist to regard himself as trustee for those on whom he depends for the making, the retention and increase of his capital…. Earn your crores by all means. But understand that your wealth is not yours; it belongs to the people. Take whatever you need for your legitimate needs and use the remainder for society…A person cannot amass individual wealth without private ownership. Only he has to ensure that this wealth is not misused, but used for justice and in right manner.’’ …I do not bear any ill to the capitalists; I can think of doing them no harm…But I want, by means of suffering, to awaken them to their sense of duty; I want to melt their hearts and get them to render justice to their less fortunate brethren.” “I expect to convert the zamindars and other capitalists by the non-violent method, and therefore, there is for me nothing like an inevitability of class conflict.”… “Our socialism or Communism should, therefore, be based on non-violence and on harmonious co-operation of labour and capital, landlord and tenant.” 19 Whole life he believed this as gospel and worked accordingly. Thus, in the name of doing good to the countrymen, he imperceptibly served the class interest of the bourgeoisie. You examine for yourself how much the ‘heart’ of the bourgeoisie was melted by the ideal of non-violence Gandhiji propounded; how much of their “wealth’ they utilized for their ‘legitimate and rational need’ and how much of the ‘remainder wealth’ they utilized for their ‘less fortunate brethren’. Now you say whether the crisis the country is inundated in can be solved with Gandhism. The partition of the country had been a severe blow to Gandhiji and in the last years of his life he commented with deep pain that “my struggle and mission has failed”
Can ideas of Rabindranath provide any way-out?
Rabindranath, another great humanitarian, was also unable to free himself from the tentacles of idealist outlook and conception of eternal truth. So, though he was more liberal, free-minded, logical and less conservative than Gandhiji, he also could not show what was the way-out of the problems. How much pain this great humanist felt for the oppressed humanity when he wrote: “Throughout the ages, civilized communities have contained groups of nameless people. They are the majority—the beasts of burden, who have no time to become men. They grow up on the leavings of society’s wealth, with the least food, least clothes and least education, and they serve the rest. They toil most, yet theirs is the largest measure of indignity. At the least excuse they starve and are humiliated by their superiors. They are deprived of everything that makes life worth living. They are like a lamp-stand bearing the lamp of civilization on their heads: people receive light while they are smeared with the trickling oil.” 20 But, it seems he was not the same Rabindranath when he said: “I had often thought about them, but came to the conclusion that there was no help for them. If a section of people do not stay at the bottom, another section cannot be at the top….. and it is necessary to be there above. Unless one is at the top, one cannot extend one’s vision beyond the apparently set limits….. mere animal existence can never be man’s destiny. His civilization consists in going beyond bare subsistence.…the best intellectual crops produced by civilization have been during the leisure time…. I used to think that the utmost should be done to improve the education, health and comfort of those who are compelled to labour at the bottom of society not merely through circumstances (meaning not just for pecuniary condition), but by reason of their body and mind.” 21 As Gandhiji had said “God is the creator of both capitalist owners and the workers. While capitalist has the power of intellect, worker has the power of labour of the limbs”, so also said Rabindranath “If a section of people do not stay at the bottom, another section cannot be at the top…. the best intellectual crops produced by civilization have been during the leisure time…. health and comfort of those who are compelled to labour at the bottom of society not merely through circumstances …but by reason of their body and mind.” It shows that both of them were of the opinion that the difference between the ‘power of intellect’ and ‘power of labour’ is eternal. If there is no ‘power of intellect’, the best fruits of ‘wealth’ and “civilization’ were not to come by. And the power of labour is bound to ‘compel the mind and body to work at lower end and hence those providing labour power are fit for that manual job only.’ If they are not there, ‘the best fruits of civilization’ would not be produced. After visiting socialist Soviet Union where social ownership over production was established under the leadership of great Lenin and Stalin by overthrowing bourgeois ownership, liberal democrat and humanist Rabindranath wrote in 1930: “…since I had received invitation, it would have been unpardonable not to see the light of the mightiest sacrificial fire that has been lit in the world’s history…I am in Russia; had I not come, my life’s pilgrimage would have remained incomplete.” 22 He even wrote to poet Amiya Kumar Chakraborty in 1939: “…Witnessing the new face of humanity in that hallowed land… I was elated and optimistic. Never did I find such a permanent fount of happiness and expectation anywhere in human history. I am aware that Russia has established this new era on the foundation of a tremendous revolution, but it was a revolution against the most cruel and powerful vice of mankind. To that extent, this revolution was a prescript for atonement for age-old sins… The new Russia is striving to uproot a huge deadly shell from the heart of human civilization and that is what is called greed. The yearning that springs up by itself: May their sincere endeavour find success!” 23 What a hope Rabindranath expressed about socialism which was established in Russia by overthrowing bourgeois private ownership on the means of production. But the same Rabindranath elsewhere wrote in favour of private ownership: “…for an ordinary mortal, personal property is the language of his individuality: he is struck dumb, as it were, if he loses it….private property will remain but the excessive individualism of its enjoyment will be limited. What overflows these limits must be for the common good.” 24 So, as Gandhiji believed that, “the capitalist can retain and increase of his capital” and “Take whatever he needs for his legitimate needs and use the remainder for society”, Rabindranath also held that “….private property will remain but the excessive individualism of its enjoyment will be limited. What overflows these limits must be for the common good.” I have already said that though Rabindranath was idealist in his outlook, but compared to Gandhiji he was much more rationalist and liberal in his thinking. So, a few days before his death, he said with deep pain that he could not enter into the lives of the workers and peasants. Reflecting this feeling through poetic verse in his inimitable style, he wrote in his poem Aikyatan (Symphony):
“Entry remained ever elusive
to me at every point…
Obstacles being the barbwires
of my mode of life…
Extensive are the diversities of their
(workers and peasants) lives
Mounted on which runs the entire world,
In the eternal exile of honour
The self of mine,
tiniest of the vast universe,
Is perched atop the society
To behold through a narrow window”
He could understand one aspect that is the hindrance created by his mode of life. But he could not identify his other limitation that is his inability to recognize the necessity of adopting correct scientific outlook in search for truth.
This concept of ethics and morality of Gandhiji and Rabindranath is bourgeois humanism. Echoing the same concept, secular humanist Feuerbach had talked of “rational restriction for ourselves and love again love for others”. The meaning of this is that a human being should have rational restriction while consuming anything and give the rest to others affectionately. This ‘man’ of his does not belong to any particular class of a particular time but is an abstract being above everything. And hence this very humanist culture and concept is considered eternal. In this regard, the outlook of the secular humanists during the rising period of capitalism and that of theist Gandhiji and Rabindranath in the period of reactionary capitalism are one and the same. It is according to this outlook that the private ownership of property and the very right of the individual to acquire property as well as the difference between the worker and the owner are all eternal, unchangeable. It is advised that the owner should only take what is legitimate and give the rest to the society. What is the yardstick of measuring this ‘legitimate’ or ‘limits of excessive use of its enjoyment’? Will any capitalist owner say that the profit he is minting or wealth he is amassing is anything but legitimate? It is the owners who are taking what is as per their yardstick is ‘legitimate’, rational and legal. I leave it to you to examine if the problems created by capitalism can be resolved by pursuing this outlook of Gandhiji or Rabindranath? All around, you can see how “melted hearts of the capitalists” are grinding “their less fortunate brethren” under the yoke of ruthless oppression everyday.
Marxist philosophy has not fallen from the sky
From this, it can be easily understood how essential Marxism is in the struggle for emancipation, struggle for overthrowing capitalism. The philosophy of Marxism has not fallen from the sky. Nor is it any subjective formulation of Marx. As religious thoughts emerged in the slave-master society from the urge for bettering the condition of the oppressed slaves, likewise the philosophy of mechanical materialism and the concepts of secularism and nationalism emerged as ideology in the interest of the rising bourgeoisie and the serfs against obsolete feudalism and monarchical rule. Similarly, the philosophy of dialectical materialism or Marxism based on modern science has emerged in the exploitative capitalist system in response to the objective social necessity of emancipating the exploited working class. While all other philosophers assumed truth to be eternal and hence held subjective understanding as the ultimate in determination of truth, it is only Marxism which adopted scientific methodology of experimentation and verification as the tool to arrive at the objective truth. Based on this scientific methodology only, Marx had shown that nothing including truth is eternal. Truth is ever changing, relative and concrete. So we find that Marxism is the only scientific philosophy. The various branches of science like Physics, Chemistry and Biology have repeatedly proved through experimentation and verification that the entire universe is material; there is nothing beyond this material universe and accordingly nothing is non-material. Mass and energy are two forms of existence of matter. One can be transformed into another. There is no beginning nor is there any creation. Matter in diverse forms is in constant motion and ceaseless change. When a matter enters into a particular stage through transformation, there is, in relative sense, a beginning. Again when that matter is transformed into another stage, there is, in relative sense, an end of its earlier stage. There is no supernatural or supra-matter power. Right from the largest planet discovered of late to the minutest sub-atomic particle is in motion—every matter is governed by a definite set of laws, is in continuous motion and is ever-changing. Since the very thought of god or any supernatural entity is no discovery of science and hence totally imaginary, so there are contradictions, conflicts and also clashes leading to even bloodshed and killings among the theists belonging to various religions. But there is no such conflict among the scientists over any experimentally verified truth and discovery. Through dialectically co-ordinating and correlating the particular laws discovered in particular branches of science in their respective domains, Marx enunciated certain generalized scientific laws which are equally applicable in all domains and hence universal. As the scientists have not created any law but have only discovered the laws which are operating in nature independent of anyone’s recognition so that people could understand and reckon with those laws and use them for their own benefits, the universal laws of dialectical materialism formulated by Marx have also been likewise operative independent of one’s recognition. By applying these universal laws of dialectical materialism, Marx discovered that the course of progress and development of human society is not pre-determined by any supernatural force nor is accidental. This very course of social development is also governed by definite scientific laws. Marx discovered those laws also with the object that human beings could change the society by accelerating the process of the inherently operative law of social development and progress.
He showed that there was no stable property, no private ownership concept or no rich-poor divide in the primitive society. It was only after emergence of private property that the society became class-divided centring on private ownership. Slave-master society was the first among the class-divided societies. It was followed by feudalism and then capitalism. Similarly, in course of the same inexorable law of social development would be established socialist society which in the process of further development would be elevated to communism. This continuous change and development will go on. The natural laws operate independent of one’s recognition or conscious cognition. In human society, human consciousness can either accelerate this law-governed process of change or delay it by creating hindrance. Marx also explained that all the social changes since the slave system that have taken place so far have been driven by class struggle. The ruling oppressing classes tried to obstruct the process of operation of the law which foster change and hence are called reactionary. On the other hand, the oppressed classes fought for accelerating the change and hence are progressive. It is in this course that the slaves overthrew the slave-master system to establish feudalism, serfs and the rising bourgeoisie brought down feudalism and now the working class would overthrow capitalism. The ideological weapon the slaves fought with was the then religious thoughts. The rising bourgeoisie and serfs fought with the ideology of secular humanism or humanism free from religious influence and mechanical materialism. The ideological weapon the working class has is dialectical materialism. By applying dialectical materialism, Marx showed that it is labour power, both physical and mental, which is creating all wealth even capital. In capitalism, character of this labour power as well as produced commodities is social because production is meant for catering to the market of the society. But the ownership of the means of production is private and the motive of production is to earn profit for the private capitalist owners. He also showed mathematically that the capitalists earn profit by depriving the workers of their legitimate wage, by appropriating unpaid surplus labour. And this oppressed working people constitute the bulk of the buyers in the market. If their purchasing power goes down, an inevitable market crisis ensues. Concomitantly, there is rise in closures, retrenchment and unemployment and the bourgeoisie who once appeared waiving flag of industrialization itself creates industrial crisis. A section of the industrial capital starts becoming bigger by defeating most of the small capitals in the competition and then wiping them out from the market. Then it is a competition for earning more and more profit by exploiting the workers more severely. Capitalism which during its rising period advanced civilization in the arena of culture, art-literature-science as well as in the entire realm of knowledge, is now, creating all-out crisis in all these fields. Lenin had shown that by giving birth to monopoly and finance capital, capitalism is breeding more crises. After reaching the stage of imperialism, it is generating war, forcibly occupying others’ lands and carrying out loot and plunder with alacrity. The flag of equality-liberty-fraternity is through on the ground. Imperialism is the highest reactionary moribund stage of capitalism. Subsequently, Stalin had pointed out that in this phase of crisis-ridden capitalism, the capitalists are trying to maximize profit by maximizing exploitation of the working class. Since the consumer market is squeezed, the developed capitalist countries are turning to arms market and resorting to militarizing the economy. The relative stability of capitalist market has also gone. Now to the bourgeoisie, ‘liberty’ means unbridled freedom to exploit the labour. To them, the workers are nothing but ‘human raw material’. A little later, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh had shown that capitalism is now enmeshed in an hourly crisis. All capitalist countries, whether developed or backward, are resorting to militarization of economy. Fascism, the worst enemy of mankind, is manifest in all capitalist countries in varied forms. He showed that “fascism destroys the very process of building man”. He further showed us how in all capitalist countries including ours, not only economic crisis but also crisis of human essence and values is aggravating at a rapid pace, polluting individual as well as family lives and destroying love-affection-tender feelings finer sensibilities, destroying thinking faculty, scientific thought and encouraging regimentation of thought. This is how, all the great Marxist authorities had in sequence drawn our attention to the various facets and aspects of growing capitalist crisis and shown that the socialist revolution under the leadership of the proletariat is only the historically determined path of emancipation. As natural science has been continuously enriched and developed by the newer discoveries of the celebrated scientists, so also correspondingly, in the post-Marx-Engels period, Marxism has been enriched and developed by Lenin-Stalin-Mao Zedong-Shibdas Ghosh in course of providing correct answers to all the emerging questions and problems. So we say it is Marxism-Leninism-Shibdas Ghosh Thought. We want to state firmly that all the present problems can be solved only by accomplishing anti-capitalist socialist revolution under the leadership of the working class and guided by this great revolutionary ideology.
Why danger of counter-revolution remains in socialism?
Quite naturally, you may ask that if after establishment, socialism can be dismantled in Russia, China and the East European countries through counter-revolution and capitalism could stage a comeback, then how can counter-revolution be thwarted? In absence of correct understanding about Marxism, not only common people but even a section of the communist-minded people, seeing the spectacular all-round progress of socialism, thought that socialism could never be in danger again. By giving warning about the causes that might trigger counter-revolution, the Marxist thinkers in sequence have provided many valuable teachings in regard to the preventive steps. In the pre-revolution period, Marx had explained dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism in the following words: ”Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other.” 25 That means socialism is a transitory phase in between from capitalism to communism. If correct path is followed, socialism would lead to communism. On the other hand, if the attack of bourgeois counter-revolution cannot be repelled, capitalism would return. He said more clearly that in the initial phase, first stage of communism i.e. socialism has not yet been able to develop its own foundations. In his language: “ What we have to deal with here” (in analyzing the programme of the workers’ party) is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundations, but, on the contrary, just as it emerges from capitalist society; which is thus in every respect, economically, morally and intellectually, still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges.” 26 What a foresight Marx reflected in saying so many years back that influence of the bourgeoisie in the ideological, economic and moral spheres exists within socialism and socialism is nothing but a transitory phase. After successfully accomplishing socialist revolution in Russia, Lenin said: “This transition period has to be a period of struggle between dying capitalism and nascent communism — or, in other words, between capitalism which has been defeated but not destroyed and communism which has been born but is still very feeble.” 27 He also said: “The dictatorship of the proletariat is a most determined and most ruthless war waged by the new class (working class) against a more powerful enemy, the bourgeoisie, whose resistance is increased tenfold by its overthrow (even if only in one country), and whose power lies not only in the strength of international capital, in the strength and durability of the international connections of the bourgeoisie, but also in the force of habit, in the strength of small production.” 28 He further showed: “The force of habit of millions and tens of millions is a most terrible force. …small production engenders capitalism and the bourgeoisie continuously, daily, hourly, spontaneously” 29 You need to know that in post-revolution Russia, there was existence of small capital in various forms for definite objective reasons. So long as the entire masses are not embracing Marxism, there is dominance of many bourgeois thoughts, culture and forces of habit in them even in a socialist country. Now you see what Stalin had said in 1929: “The more the socialist system and the socialist economy will be strengthened and consolidated, the more sharpened will be the class struggles.” 30 Just before death, he said in the 19th party congress of CPSU in 1952: “Nor are we guaranteed against the infiltration of alien views, ideas and sentiments from outside, from capitalist countries or from inside, from the relics of groups hostile to the Soviet state which have not been completely demolished… the enemies of the Soviet Union are working to inculcate, foment, and foster unhealthy sentiments, ideologically to corrupt the unstable elements of our society…. Whenever attention to ideological questions is relaxed, a favourable soil is created for …anti-Leninist groups…to utilize them for promotion of their line… we still have vestiges of the bourgeois ideology, relics of private-property mentality and morality. These relics do not die away of themselves; they are very tenacious and may strengthen their hold… Ideological work is prime duty of the Party, and underestimation of its importance do irreparable damage to the interest of the Party and the state…We must always remember that if the influence of the socialist ideology is weakened, the effect is to strengthen the influence of the bourgeois ideology.” 31 This observation of his was at a time when he and the Soviet Union were held in highest esteem worldwide for having defeated the fascist axis and despite having suffered maximum losses and casualties in the Second World War, Soviet Union had surpassed US to a significant extent by registering tremendous progress in reconstruction of the country. In spite of that, Stalin said these words out of great concern and severely criticized a group of leaders for showing complacence. It is definite that had he been alive, he would have protected socialism by fighting these dangers just like the way he saved socialism from repeated attacks after Lenin’s death. Let alone giving due importance to these warnings of Stalin, the bourgeois agent Khrushchev leadership which came next had, instead, unleashed a vilification campaign against Stalin and thus by way of attacking this great authority of Marxism-Leninism and pursuing revisionist line, opened the road to restoration of capitalism. This apprehension was expressed by Comrade Shibdas Ghosh while commenting on the anti-Stalin tirade of Khrushchev in the 20th Congress of CPSU in 1956. Just before death, great Mao Zedong also while conducting historic Cultural Revolution against the counter-revolutionary conspiracy had said: “Although the bourgeoisie has been overthrown, it is still trying to use the old ideas, culture, customs and habits of the exploiting classes to corrupt the masses, capture their minds and endeavour to stage a comeback… At present, our objective is to struggle against and overthrow those persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road… Since the Cultural Revolution is a revolution, it inevitably meets with resistance. This resistance comes chiefly from those in authorities who have wormed their way into the Party and are taking the capitalist road.” 32 After his death, those very capitalist-roaders appropriated power and established capitalism in China.
In this connection, you need to be acquainted with some valuable warnings and teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh. In 1948, the very year of Party foundation, he said: “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…. These serious shortcomings and defects are largely due to the fact that the present leadership of the world communist camp is, to a very large extent, influenced by mechanical process of thinking… that has virtually led to the negation of the Marxian science, accepted through test of the historical experiences regarding the dialectical process of emergence and formation of the revolutionary communist leadership through interaction of ideas.” 33 Holding falling standard of communist consciousness responsible for that, he pointed out:”That such lowering of ideological level can take place in spite of organizational development of communist movement is no new phenomenon. Lenin himself had to stress this phenomenon in his lifetime. …the philosophical development of Marxism-Leninism which ought to have been made in the face of multiplicity of newer problems of life and class struggles and in keeping with the spectacular progress of natural sciences that marked the post-Lenin period, was not made. …. at present the phenomenon of individualism and the bourgeois sense of liberty are in the ideological sphere stiff obstacles in the path of development of class struggles in advanced countries. The situation calls for a critical discussion on the sense of humanist moral values vis-a-vis proletarian moral values… Up till now, the highest standard of communist moral values was considered to have been reflected in this, and only they were considered to be the real communists who were able to surrender unconditionally …the individual interest to social interest, …and subordinate individual interest to the cause of revolution and party. And in the book ‘Communist Education’ by Kalinin, this was considered to be the highest standard of communist consciousness. But this cannot be considered as the adequate standard for the leading communists in the context of newer complexities of present-day life…. the individual’s struggle for emancipation has reached a new and complex height and has assumed a new character in the socialist society where to resolve this problem, a more intense and arduous struggle is to be conducted for complete identification of the self-interest with the interest of society through unflagging dedication and constant vigil. Hence, it is a new standard of ethics and human values, a level that is completely and basically different from and higher than the level of the bourgeois humanist values which so long have been applied in practice to inspire and attract the workers and cadres in the communist movement.” 34 He pointed out that “If this is not done, ‘socialist individualism’ will appear and more and more demands for greater individual freedom and rights would be raised. And if this process continues, then this would give birth to revisionism and that would only help in the restoration of capitalism.” 35 Referring to the Soviet Union, he said that after much progress of social ownership, “…the system of collective farming is there and also production of commodities and commodity circulation and the existence of individual property like houses, money, bank deposits, etc. The law of value is operative there. All this shows that the seeds of private property have not been destroyed there. And so long as these seeds remain, the tendency of capitalist restoration in the economy would also be there…. But just the economic ingredients by themselves could not have brought it about automatically; revisionism did not have the ability to come about this way. It is the low level of consciousness that increased this tendency… In order to prevent this, it was necessary to maintain a high and adequate ideological and cultural standard of consciousness by conducting cultural revolution and ideological struggle ceaselessly within the party, on the one hand, while on the other, it was necessary to develop and enrich Marxism continually, not only in the economic and political sphere but also for confronting the newer and newer problems arising in the changed condition in human life…….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..” 36
So long I have presented before you what Marx and his worthy continuers had said in sequence about how, in the emerging new situations, capitalism can stage a comeback dismantling socialism and what are the preventive steps. You all have also listened patiently. You have seen that this possible crisis of socialism was very much apprehended by the Marxist thinkers. They had sounded caution about it and also indicated how to thwart capitalist attack in socialism. But, because of not realizing the importance of their warnings and straying away from the path shown by them, counter-revolution could dismantle socialism. A lesson has also to be drawn from history that a new ideology, a new social system had to wage blood-shedding struggle for centuries, go through a series of wins and defeats to score the final victory. All the religions which are claimed to be possessing divine power also had to fight for hundreds of years to make a foothold. In the same way, starting from renaissance, bourgeois democratic revolution had to fight for 350 long years to emerge victorious. Both these struggles were not struggles for abolishing class exploitation but for replacing one system of class exploitation by another. And socialist revolution is a revolution to end the class exploitation going on for over thousands of years from slave-master society to capitalism via feudalism. Compared to that, what was the strength of 70 years of socialism of Russia encircled by global capitalism-imperialism? So, there is no scope for despair whatsoever. Drawing appropriate lessons from the reverses suffered by socialism, next socialist revolution has to be made successful and then protected. For example, in 1871, the French working class waged a blood-shedding struggle to establish Paris Commune by overthrowing the bourgeoisie. But within a few months, the bourgeoisie dislodged them and killed thousands of them. Marx took lesson from this and said that mere overthrow of the bourgeoisie from power would not suffice. The bourgeois state machine has to be smashed and replaced by working class state. Lenin successfully applied this teaching in Russia and accomplished revolution. We who are to develop revolutionary movement now would have to keep in mind these invaluable teachings of the Marxist authorities to protect revolution and forestall restoration of capitalism. We have to understand that in socialism, qualitative change in economic and political spheres would not be enough. A qualitative change in the superstructure, in the realm of mind, has to be brought about by conducting separate and simultaneous intense ideological-cultural struggle against capitalism. Otherwise, counter-revolutionary attack would come from there.
We have to bear in mind that socialism came following inexorable law of history. But because of not assigning due importance to the valuable warnings and teachings of the Marxist teachers, capitalism could stage a comeback. However, following the same inexorable law, socialism would again emerge victorious and last. Without this, what is the future of human civilization? After dismantling of socialism, millions of people of Russia, China and East European countries plagued by appalling poverty, unemployment, job loss, price rise and other burning problems are crying and earnestly desiring to get back socialism. That socialism would come in course of inexorable law of history does not mean that it would come automatically. Crisis-stricken people would inevitably search for the way to emancipation. Marxists would show the path and the oppressed people would consciously act to accelerate the process of the law of change meaning accomplish revolution. More delayed is the process, more accentuated will be the all-embracing crises afflicting life.
Great men of the then world showed profound respect to socialism and great Stalin
Please keep in mind that witnessing how Soviet socialism led by Stalin, worthy student of Lenin, had established the first exploitation-free society in the history of human civilization by registering spectacular all-round growth and development, the esteemed humanist stalwarts of the 20th century like Romain Rolland, Bernard Shaw and Einstein of Europe and Rabindranath, Saratchandra, Subhaschandra, Premchand, Subramania Bharati and many other renowned political leaders and thinkers of our country who were disgusted with the degeneration of Western civilization greeted Soviet Union with reverence as the only ray of hope. Shaeed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh declared himself a Marxist. I have already mentioned what Rabindranath had said about Soviet Union. Now see what some other greatmen had said. Great thinker Romain Rolland observed: “I believe in the work of the USSR. I shall defend it as long as there is breath in my body.” 37 Renowned personality like George Bernard Shaw said: “There is only one country in the world where you can enjoy real freedom –it is Russia where great Stalin is still alive.” 38 Netaji Subhas said: “During the nineteenth century Germany made the most remarkable gift through her Marxian Philosophy. During the twentieth century, Russia has enriched the culture and civilization of the world through her achievement in proletarian revolution, proletarian Government and proletarian culture.” 39 In the speech broadcast on the radio station of short-lived Azad hind government in Singapore on the verge of the defeat of INA on 25 May, 1945, he said with confidence that “If there is one man in Europe today who holds in his hands the destinies of the European nations for the next few decades, that man is Marshal Stalin. So, the whole world and particularly the whole Europe would anxiously look at what Soviet Union does in future… In post-war Europe, there is only one power that has a plan which is worth trial, and that power is Soviet Union. So we have come to the conclusion that the European nations will have no option but to apply on the soil of Europe the plan which has become so much successful in Soviet Union “ 40Who are then the real intellectuals? The greatmen whom I have referred to above or those degraded self-styled intellectuals who are sold out to money and are on a spree of maligning Marxism, socialism and great Stalin? You examine for yourselves.
Despite having ideological differences, there was not a single eminent litterateur, thinker or political leader in the world at that time who did not hold the worth and greatness of Stalin in high esteem. When, after assuming power in 1956, Khrushchev, a bourgeois agent, began to spread canard against Stalin, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh warned that “…like his precursors Marx, Engels and Lenin, Stalin also is an authority on Marxism-Leninism. To black out Stalin would have the inevitable result of disowning his authority and consequently of rejecting his interpretation of Leninism, which is the present-day understanding of Marxism… It would mean invitation to all sorts of counter-revolutionary ideas to pass for Marxism-Leninism and the ideological foundation of the communist movement would suffer a setback.” 41 Exactly that had happened. So today, the struggle for propagating and accepting Marxism, for developing movement to bring about socialist revolution is inseparably linked with the struggle for defeating the vilification campaign against great Stalin and reinstate him in the due glorious position of honour.
We shall march ahead drawing lesson from the temporary reverses suffered by socialism
I want to remind you that Romain Rolland had once said with great concern that “If it (Soviet Union) crushed it would no longer be the proletariat of the world alone who would be enslaved, but liberty, social or individual;…the world will be thrown several stages behind…then consider that an all pervading darkness has descended there for some coming centuries.” 42 This is the heart-rending truth. A pitch darkness has enshrouded all the countries, all walks of life. World imperialism-capitalism like a rotten mutilated stinking corpse has been polluting life and making it unbearable in every respect. If things are allowed to continue like this, crisis will assume far more harrowing a character. Only ray of hope is Marxism-Leninism-Shibdas Ghosh Thought and successful socialist revolution ushered in with the help of this invincible ideology. This revolution has to be successful in every country. We can inspire the revolutionary movements of other countries by strengthening revolutionary struggle in our country. History has adjured this task to our Party founded by Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, the great Marxist thinker. Recall once again what a hard arduous struggle Comrade Shibdas Ghosh conducted against all adversities to build up this Party with the object of shouldering that historic task. Compared to the days of Party formation, the situation today is so much favourable for strengthening and expanding the Party. How can we discharge this historic responsibility bequeathed to us is provided in the following valuable words of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh: “The Indian society is in the throes of birth… The people yearn for a change. The ruling class has nothing else to bank on, except the military muscle of this old order. They count also on people’s ignorance and political confusion, but that is not of any major importance….Only, it suffers from want of people’s organized conscious political movement, from want of a genuine revolutionary party with that minimum of necessary strength with which this ferment for revolution in the people, this situation ripe for revolution can be led into an organized protracted powerful struggle for revolution. … the coming days are very important to us. You are to build this party fast, within a very short period, with the political and organizational strength necessary to provide leadership to revolution. We could not have achieved this task earlier even if we had contemplated it. But now, with our present numerical strength, if all of us — each and every leader and cadre — strive to put it into reality, with adequate contemplation, we shall succeed to achieve it. To that end, every worker present here shall have to carry out his respective work without turning away from it, with individual initiative and intellect — no matter whether you can achieve it or not, you succeed or fail.” 43 I am confident that each and every leader and worker of our Party would shoulder the responsibility by duly honouring his call. And I call upon the vast masses of the supporters and sympathizers who have assembled here to extend their all out support towards discharging of this task. This is the only way we can show our genuine respect to Comrade Shibdas Ghosh.
At the outset, I had said that I would not dwell on any other socio-political question in today’s meeting. Considering relevant, I have discussed some complex issues. I hope you will seriously ponder over these issues.
Source of quotations:-
1 (SW. Vol. III)
1a (SW. Vol. III)
2 (SW Vol. II)
3 (Advaita Vedanta, the scientific religion)
4 (Critique of Hegel’s philosophy of Right)
5 (On the History of Early Christianity)
6 (SW Vol. II )
7 (Capital Vol. I)
8 (SW Vol. II)
9 (SW Vol. III)
10 (Vidyasagar Collected Works)
12 (Advaita Vedanta the scientific religion)
13 (On Education)
14 (Bani O Rachana)
15 (Bani O Rachana)
16 (Advaita Vedanta the scientific religion)
17 (My religion)
18 (My religion)
19 (Socialism of my conception)
20 (Letters from Russia)
21 (Letters from Russia)
22 (Letters from Russia)
23 (Letters of Rabindranath—11th part)
24 (Letters from Russia)
25 (Critique of the Gotha Programme)
26 (Critique of the Gotha Programme
27 (Economics and Politics in the era of dictatorship of the proletariat)
28 (Left wing Communism-An infantile disorder)
29 (Left wing Communism-An infantile disorder)
30 (Problems of Leninism)
31 [Report of the 19th Party Congress of Central Committee of the CPSU (B)]
32 (Decision of the Central Committee of the CPC concerning the great Cultural Revolution)
33 (SW Vol. I)
34 (SW Vol. I)
35 (SW Vol. I)
36 (SW Vol. I)
37 (I will not rest)
38 (New Statesman and nations, December, 1934)
39 (Speeches in Indian political conference in London, 1933)
40 (Subhas Rachanabali, Part IV, Jayashree Prakashani)
41 (SW Vol. 1)
42 (I will not rest)
43 (SW Vol. III)
44 (Feuerbach and End of Classical German Philosophy)
45 (Caste, Culture and Socialism)
46 (Bani O Rachana)