Archive for Lenin

Maoism – A Critique From the Left

Posted in Books & Authors, Communist Movement, International Affairs, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2010 by Umer

Pragoti has had a number of contributors from the Left taking on the subject of Maoism and Maoist violence in India. Various articles such asthis or this have addressed the subject. One of the regular contributors to Pragoti, Prasenjit Bose, has now edited a volume of articles which critique the Maoists from the viewpoint of the organised Left in the country. The critique is organised on various lines – a theory/praxis critique by PMS Grewal and Nilotpal Basu and a comparative assessment of various extremist/Maoist movements across the world, particularly in Latin America by another Pragoti contributor Vijay Prashad. The book is rounded off with a telling ideological document that debated the viewpoints of the Naxalites before these left wing sectarians branched off from the CPI(M) in the late 1960s. The book is available for purchase here. With permission from Prasenjit Bose, we are carrying the introduction to the book (the first chapter) in this post.

Introduction — Prasenjit Bose

As the debate on leftwing extremist violence and the state’s offensive against it intensifies in India, opinion tends to get increasingly polarized. On the one side are those who consider the CPI (Maoist) as a destructive terrorist group, much like the Islamist Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) or the separatist United Liberation Force of Asom (ULFA), which has to be crushed through the military might of the state. On the other side are those who see the Maoists as a revolutionary force, fighting for the cause of the exploited and the marginalized, and justify their violent acts as a necessary evil in order to bring about radical social transformation. Little effort is made, however, from either end to delve deeper into the question of leftwing extremism, in India or elsewhere, in order to understand its current activities in terms of its ideological basis, social roots and historical origins. 

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In Defense of the Leninist Party

Posted in Communist Movement, Marxism with tags , , , on September 25, 2009 by Umer

by Taimur Rahman

How does a weak, poor, destitute, illiterate oppressed force win over a better-educated, better-armed, better-equipped, and better-financed oppressor?

In all respects of social, political, or economic life, the individual proletariat is infinitely inferior to the individual bourgeois. The individual bourgeois swallows up hundreds of families. In their factories, mines, and fields the ‘fortunate’ proletarians works for starvation wages. The ‘unfortunate’ starve to death begging on the street or silently in their homes from easily curable diseases. They die of malnourishment, over-work, exhaustion, ill-treatment, and side effects from industrial pollutants. They die of their own ignorance, their misery, apathy and degradation. In all respects, the proletariat is the modern day slave of the bourgeoisie.

A small bunch of intellectuals essentially from non-proletarian backgrounds raise their voices and argue that these proletariats, who cannot make ends meet and cannot prevent themselves or their children from dying of starvation, will rise up and inherit the earth. This depraved proletariat will not only learn to read and write but will master that awfully difficult theory of dialectical materialism and overthrow the power of the ruling class that is superior in every respect. Moreover, they claim that they will build a society without exploitation that will be more just and will out-produce current society. In fact, they even claim that they will open up a new chapter in history; they call it the end of the realm of necessity and the beginning of the realm of freedom.

Judged from the sober eye of a “realist” it would appear that these communist intellectuals have had a little too much to eat, a little too much time to think and that their idealistic youthful fantasies have got the better of their rational selves.

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Utho meri duniya ke ghareeboN ko Jaga do (Farman-e-Khuda)

Posted in Marxism, Poetry, Literature, Art with tags , on September 19, 2009 by Umer

The RedDiary is posting this interesting rendition of Allma Iqbal’s famous poem ‘Farman-e-Khuda’ by A Nayyer:

For background of this this poem, please read Lenin Before God.

Study of Marxism

Posted in Communist Movement, Marxism with tags , , , , , , on September 17, 2009 by Umer

by Imran Barlas

“According to the materialist conception of history, the ultimately determining element in history is the production and reproduction of real life. Other than this neither Marx nor I have ever asserted. Hence if somebody twists this into saying that the economic element is the only determining one, he transforms that proposition into a meaningless, abstract, senseless phrase.”Engels

To derive a more accurate conclusion of whether the economic and philosophical theories of Marx can work or not, it would be beneficial to:

  • Study the economic theories themselves

We spend the entirety of our school, college, university years learning about capitalism. We cannot rely on a simple booklet which was never intended to form the basis of economic/philosophical theory anyway. On the contrary, we study in depth about subjects to arrive at truly accurate analyses about how the world works.

After all, something is clearly wrong with how the world works today. Today, we are in what is being termed as the Great Recession. Had the major capitalist economies not regulated or intervened through the state, it would have been quite likely that we would have entered a Depression. And that would have been even more disastrous.

Why is it then that despite having Ivy League graduates at the helm of businesses, top professionals from the highest ranking universities regarded as some of the smartest people in the world, that the interlinked economies were quite helpless in preventing the crisis? The answer is that the crisis is systemic. No matter how smart one is or how moral one is, the nature of the system is such that recessions and depressions, i.e. perpetual failures will continue to result due to the irreconcilable antagonism between labor and capital.

The effects on people of a recession are obvious. Hundreds of thousands are thrown out of their jobs. Those workers that remain begin to see reductions in their wages so that the owners/shareholders may continue to stay rich! The ‘symbiotic’ relationship between capitalists and workers that is so often claimed in university text books ends without a second thought. Resource based wars start brewing for the retention of profitability and economic vitality. And so on.

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Permanent Revolution

Posted in Communist Movement, Marxism with tags , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2009 by Umer

The Red Diary has been posting material about Trotskyism for some time. In view of many, the debates that surrounded the Russain Revolution are not relevant in the Twenty First century. I don’t agree with such a view. In my view, many questions of the current day politics, the politics of the Left in specific, can massively benefit from the debates that marked the Russian Revolution.


Permanent Revolution

by Taimur Rahman

One of the things that I have realized while talking to Trotskyists is that their understanding of Marxist theory specifically with respect to the bourgeois democratic revolution is actually very weak.

They all think that Lenin came around to the view of permanent revolution in April 1917. This is actually completely incorrect and is obvious to anyone that has read Lenin in any detail.

The major confusion in this regard is because Trotskyists do not understand what the bourgeois-democratic stage of the revolution means? They think it means the establishment of a bourgeois government. But this is completely incorrect.

When Marxist-Leninists write that society is at the bourgeois-democratic stage of the revolution, what we mean is that the task of destroying pre-capitalist economic relations has not yet been completed by the development of a nascent capitalism.

Meaning, landlords continue to dominate the countryside and feudalism or other pre-capitalist modes of production are widespread in society.

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Economics of Socialism in USSR

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs, Marxism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2009 by Umer

Comrade Taimur Rahman of Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party discusses how a planned socialist economy enabled the primitive Tsarist Russsia to unlock the creativity of her people, transforming the USSR into a cultural, social, technological,  scientific, industrial, political, diplomatic and military superpower in a few short decades:

Part 1

Part 2

Comrade Harpal Brar of Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) continues on Comrade Rahman’s theme, explaining certain aspects of rapid innovation, cultural and scientific advance in the USSR:

Part 3

Naghma-e-Zakhm-e-Dil: Songs of the Wounded Hearts

Posted in Communist Movement, Marxism, Pakistan, Poetry, Literature, Art with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2009 by Umer

by Shahram Azhar

Many people who know little or nothing about Laal’s evolution question the practicality of building socio-political movements through music and poetry. Too obviously, there is some truth to this skepticism; music, in its essence is a language constructed on notes and percussion. Revolutionary movements on the contrary are political-economic-social movements that are led by oppressed classes to overthrow a system of exploitation. However, revolutionary movements are not chaotic movements built in days or even months. Revolutionary science teaches us that a protracted process of ideological struggle precedes revolutionary movements—in the words of the greatest revolutionary of the past century, Vladimir Lenin: “Without revolutionary theory, there will be no revolutionary movement”.

In every epoch the ruling classes befuddle the minds of the oppressed classes by systematically propounding and enforcing ideas that seek to maintain the balance of class forces intact. In order to reproduce their class hegemony on a continuous basis they must convince the broadest sections of the masses that the status quo is in the best interests of the oppressed classes as well. This, the ruling classes achieve by monopolizing the means of propaganda: schools, religious seminaries, media, art and academic inquiry, in other words all the instruments of mass knowledge are directly or indirectly controlled by the ruling classes. It is through these institutions that the oppressor convinces the oppressed that the current system of production and distribution is sane, just and stable. Once that has been achieved the ruling classes are said to have established their ideological hegemony over all other classes. The consolidation of this ideological hegemony exhibits itself most vociferously in official discourse as an overarching objective of the educational, literary and cultural pursuits of the ruling classes. Marx said:

“The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. The individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness, and therefore think. Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this In Its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch.”

It is precisely here that the role of revolutionary intellectuals and artists acquires primary importance: the destruction of the power of the ruling class first and foremost assumes the destruction of its sources of power. Now, power itself can be divided into various forms. The ruling class does not rule through force alone. It rules because it has convinced the oppressed segments of society that it deserves to rule. X cannot be a slave-master to Y, if Y is no longer willing to accept X as his slave-master. If Y must no longer accept X as his slave-master, Y must first be convinced that he too has the intellectual and physical abilities to become the ruler.

Therefore, in order to defy the domination of the ruling bloc, oppressed classes and their ideologues must challenge the ideas upon which their power rests. Too obviously in every society, revolutionaries must possess the ability to creatively apply the general science of revolutions to the objective, concrete situation of their society. Revolutionaries must find a way to propagate their ideas in a manner that pushes the broadest sections of the masses towards revolutionary action. Revolutions are built when a significant proportion of the population is convinced that the ruling system of oppression and exploitation must be torn asunder. Revolutions are built when the forces of love and humanity conquer the forces of hatred and barbarity. Revolutions are made when millions upon millions are united by their wounds against a common enemy.

In Asiatic (i.e., where the Asiatic Mode of Production prevailed) societies, from Arabia to India, poetry and music have played an extremely important role in forming the psychological make-up of society. Let us take the most familiar example. In ancient Arabia, competing tribes had poets and musicians as their ideologues. Poets (who were also musicians) were warriors, propagandists and strategists and led their armies from the front.

In colonial India the poetry of Nandlal Noorpuri and Ram Prashad Bismil became immortalized in their death: Sarfaroshi key tamanna abb hamaray dil main hai (The desire for sacrifice is now in our hearts). Faiz Ahmed Faiz, in his book Mah-o-Saal-e-Aashnai remembers this time as the formative phase of his life as a revolutionary and says that “as a result of this movement there was a significant change in the nature of national protests. Now, the slogans of Swaraj and Band-e-Matram had been replaced by the slogan of Inquilab Zindabad! (Long Live the Revolution!) and people sang “Sarfaroshi key tamanna abb hamaray dil main hai” instead of “Saaray jahan say acha Hindustan Hamara” (Better than the entire world, is our Hindustan).

In the Punjab the poetry of Ajit Singh Sikka inspired the peasantry to revolt against the local landlords. His poem “Pagri Sambhal, Jatta Pagri Sambhal” (Hold you turban, Jut,  hold your turban) united the peasantry across the Chenab and the Ravi and gave birth to one of the greatest revolutionary leaders from the sub-continent: Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, who formed the Naujawan Bharat Sabha (NBS) and later the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army with the explicit aim of creating a socialist republic. One of the principal methods of ideological propagation that the NBS employed was poetry recitation and music. In fact, Bhagat Singh and his comrades continue to resonate in popular culture with the song that they sang to the gallows: “Mera rang day basanti chola, maayay, mera rang day basanti chola” (Dye my robe the colour of spring, mother, dye my robe the colour of spring).

These poets and revolutionaries in turn, inspired a new breed of revolutionary poets and poetesses. Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Sahir Ludhianvi, Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, Habib Jalib and Amreeta Preetam first, and later Ahmed Faraz and Jaun Eliya continued to hold aloft the banner of purposive art and poetry. The power and strength of their ideas can be seen through the fear that these immortal revolutionaries instilled in the hearts of military dictators, capitalists and jaageerdars. These fearless freedom fighters would stop at nothing less than the complete abolition of exploitation and injustices. In a time when the military dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq had banned the publication of anti-dictatorship material, poetry recitals became an extremely important method of defiance. The poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib was banned from newspapers and declared illegal. Yet, it continued to inspire millions upon millions of workers and peasants towards rebellion.

In his poem, “Hum jo taareek rahon main maaray gayay” (We, who were slain in unlit pathways), Faiz declared:

“Qatl gaahon say chun kar hamaray ala

Aur niklaingay ushaaq k qaafilay”

(Picking up our flags from these grounds

will march forth more caravans of your lovers)

And so it is with Laal: As individuals who seek to build a socialist revolution in Pakistan we have decided to re-lift the flags of our heroes. As long as there is oppression and injustice in our land, we will fight. As long as there are those who live through the labor of others in comfort and luxury, we will fight. As long as there are those who consider themselves the masters of the universe and all its wealth, we will fight.

Our poetry and music is for all the wounded hearts and the oppressed millions who continue to live in conditions of bondage and slavery. In the words of Jalib:

Jo sadaaayain sun raha hoon

mujhay bus unnhey ka ghum hai

Tumhain shair key pari hai

Mujhay aadmi ka ghum hai

(The calls that I hear

Only these worry my soul

You are concerned about the poet

I am worried about humanity)

Shahram Azhar is the lead vocalist of the musical band Laal (the Reds) and a member of the Communist Workers and Peasants Party (CMKP) of Pakistan.