“As world imperialism neared its final collapse, the revisionist leadership of the Communist Parties of the world began to betray the people’s struggles. After the death of Stalin the Soviet revisionist renegade clique usurped the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the world’s revisionist renegade cliques began to work jointly with a view to saving world imperialism from its destruction. The renegade traitors in India, who masqueraded as communists, were mortally scared at the victory of the Chinese revolution and withdrew unconditionally the Telangana struggle and took to the path of parliamentarism.”– Charu Majumdar, “Boycott Elections!” The International Significance Behind the Slogan
Among the renegade cliques that Charu Majumdar talks of, Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) holds a special significance in the Indian peoples’ politics. In their political resolutions declared after the party’s 23rd Congress, the party recognizes that the BJP has a Hindutva national agenda which serves the interests of what they call the fascistic Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The party even recognizes that the BJP’s pursuance of neo-liberal reforms and privatization while serving as a “steadfast subordinate ally of US imperialism” is one of the biggest causes of the violence they pursue. Primarily, they resolve to combat what they call the “Hindutva communal-corporate” nexus by strengthening their independent position and the larger “Left forces.” These resolutions are completely detached from the practice of the party. In Delhi, the CPM publishes pamphlets regarding Gautam Adani’s role in this corporate-communal nexus but in Keralam, the party committed mass violence against the fishing communities who were protesting Adani’s Vizhinjam port project and even declared a joint rally with the BJP in support of the port project. The CPM’s rhetoric is diametrically opposite to its social fascist politics, which follows the aesthetics of Marxism but has the need to cling to fascism for maintenance of its limited political power in India. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is the most significant and the largest parliamentary left party in India. The CPM emerged as a party after a split within Communist Party of India (CPI). CPM was the ruling party in Bengal for more than three decades and is the ruling party in Keralam. The model of development undertaken in Keralam is considered as an alternative to the exploitative form of development in the rest of India. This model of development has now come under question. In actuality, this model does not serve the interests of the people but serves imperialist capital.
Communist Party or Brahminical party?
CPM had discussions regarding making Shri Krishna an icon of the communist party. They were trying to find communism in this mythological character who is the protector and upholder of Varnashrama Dharma and is the major icon of the Hindutva fascists. This incident where they tried to find Marxism in Shri Krishna is reflective of the tendency to find Marxism in Brahminism. They also celebrate Ramayan Month in Kerala. The philosophy that guides the party as such is Brahminical in nature. They have perverted Marxism and made it into a casteist ideology that tries to extinguish the revolutionary spirit of the people. EMS Namboodiripad, the first chief minister of Kerala and a major theoretician of CPM, extols the absolute monism of Advaita. The interconnectedness of various phenomenon led to the upholding of monism in dialectical materialism. The absolute monism of Advaita Vedanta is actually the opposite of the monism of dialectical materialism. Duality or diversity are denied by this philosophy. This is denial of the basics of dialectical materialism which stresses that each thing has contradictions within it. This is the reason why Brahminical slogans like ‘Unity in Diversity’ are being raised by CPM. Advaita Vedanta was a counter-revolutionary ideology which was formulated by Shankara against the Shramanic philosophy, that is anti-caste. The theory of Karma which is part of Advaita Vedanta is the philosophical justification given for caste. This theory says that if one performs the duty prescribed by their jathi, one can have ‘moksha’. Thus, we can see that there is a deeper ideological reason for the Brahmanism of CPM. It is a Manuvadi party with a mechanical materialist approach and not a proletarian party with a dialectical materialist approach. The recent speech by M.V Govindan, the state secretary of Communist Party in Keralam clearly shows that the communism of this party is a mere aesthetic. They said that dialectical materialism cannot be used to analyse a feudal society like India. Dialectical materialism is a tool to analyse society and bring about change in a society. Mao had used the tool of dialectical materialism to analyse Chinese society and bring about change in China. The statement by Govindan clearly means that even members of the polit bureau of the communist party don’t understand Marxism and it’s a mere façade for them.
Unintentional land Reform: Where is the Change ?
The Brahminism of CPM is not just limited to the ideological sphere, in Keralam they have become a pro-feudal party. The land reforms in Keralam were done in a manner where caste hierarchies were maintained. The land redistribution was done in such a way that caste hierarchies continued in Keralam. It was the Savarna castes (Nairs, Namboodiris )that had more land, the Avarna OBC’s(Ezhava community) had a lesser share of land and the Dalits had close to no land. Caste hierarchies were maintained in this manner. Land is the means of production in an agrarian society and thus, the Dalits were alienated from the means of production. The Kerala land reforms ensured that the land was given to tenants but not to the agricultural labourers who were from the Dalit community. Thus, caste continued to exist in Keralam The land reformation also did not include the plantation sector. Feudalism continued in this sector. Thus, plantation sector where most of the production was happening continued to be under the control of the landlords. The main source of labour in the plantation sector is the Adivasis of Keralam. They thus lost land and were ghettoised into colonies where they would get either one cent or two cents of land. Stories of Adivasis and Dalits having to cremate their relatives under the floors of their own houses are very common as they have very limited land which is not even enough for them to continue existing.
Intellectuals like Vijay Prashad claim that 11.3 lakh acres of land were provided to the peasantry by the Left Front government. This claim is completely false.3.76 lakh acres of the 11.3 lakh acres were provided by the Congress regime. 2.5 lakh acres by the United front government. Therefore, in 34 years the left front was only able to provide 5 lakhs acres of land to the peasantry. Under the left front government, the total number of landless peasants have doubled from 33 lakhs to 78 lakhs in 2001. There has been a reversal of the land reforms as agriculture became unremunerative because of the policies of the left front, leading to the selling of the lands to the middle and big peasants by the poor peasants. These middle and big peasants have become the voter base of CPM. They control agriculture in rural areas by controlling facilities like irrigation, P.D.S shops and cold storages.Hence,anything and everything that is required for agriculture is out of the reach of the poor peasants. Moreover, the government in West Bengal had not developed the productive forces and therefore, they did not have access to any resources that were necessary for them to do farming. Thus, they were forced to sell their land.
The feudalism of the party can clearly be seen in rural West Bengal where they used land reforms as a way to control the poor peasants. The title holders of the distributed land do not have the title deeds and they are under the control of the CPM local party offices. They use this to bring in line the rebellious peasants. The Left Front under Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has also taken away the land from the peasants for imperialist interests. A neoliberal policy of using these lands for industries has been implemented.
The party also implemented the amendment to the Kerala Scheduled Tribes Act that legalised all land transactions by Adivasis to upper caste people. This would mean that land that was transferred to the upper castes because of coercion would also continue to be in the hands of the upper castes. A party that claims to be Marxist, an ideology that strives for the liberation of the oppressed, supported the oppressors. Calling this party Marxist is a humiliation to all revolutionary Marxists in India.
Brahminical Policies of CPM
The infamous Marichjapi massacre that they did in West Bengal is another clear example of the casteism of CPM. Upon the partition of the British Raj in South Asia, two new comprador states were formed: India and Pakistan. The nation of Bengal was divided into two sides following this partition, into West Bengal in India and East Pakistan (now known as Bangladesh). Thousands of migrants who had to uproot themselves from the East moved to India in hopes of settling into the West, only to be denied and forced into refugee camps scattered across India. While the upper castes among them were provided with legalised housing colonies and other amenities, the Dalits and other oppressed caste groups lived largely in spartan conditions in the Dandakaranya forest region refugee camps, many with no electricity, no arable land and with minimal means of sustaining themselves. Since they were also settling on the lands of Adivasis, the indigenous people of India, both these oppressed groups had to fight among themselves for their survival, for the barely-existing resources in this region.
The “left” front in Bengal, led by CPM party, created a treacherous electoral campaign of bringing these stranded Bengalis back to Bengal and swept to power in the region’s government on these mandates. Prior to this victory, Ram Chatterjee of the CPM personally visited the refugee camps and called for these families to move to Bengal, to settle in better land in the Sundarban delta region of West Bengal. Some 15000 families sold their paltry belongings in Dandakaranya and travelled for thousands of kilometres in hopes of this new home, only for the CPM, now in power, to turn their backs on them, forcibly sending them back. Many had already died in transit, others were shot at and murdered by their goons, the police, in different parts of Bengal. The women becoming victims of mass rape and sexual assault at the hands of the the police. The CPM had also started running an elaborate anti-refugee campaign now, inciting hatred among the people in the West against the Bengalis in the East, creating an electoral votebank among the upper castes in the West against the Dalit refugees from the East, the legacy of which continues to this day. Left with no homes and stranded in a hostile land that was supposed to be their home, the Dalits, under the leadership of Satish Mandal, decided to sail to Marichjhapi island in the Sunderbans where they were massacred by the armed police under CPM.
The first party to support the casteist policy of E.W.S was also CPM. Even before Sangh Parivar started raising this demand, CPM leaders like E.M.S had announced that caste based reservation should be replaced with reservations based on economics. Keralam under the communist party was also one of the first states to implement E.W.S reservation in India. Reservation was instituted to ensure that the caste based monopoly that the oppressor castes have is diluted. Reservation is not a scheme to alleviate poverty. E.W.S reservation cannot ensure that this monopoly is removed. The E.W.S is a Sangh Parivar scheme to dilute caste-based reservations to ensure that they can bring back Varnashrama Dharma. Their slogans against Manuvadi Brahminism are clearly just mere aesthetics to garner more votes.
A Communist Party That Stands for Imperialism
CPM is also a party that stands against the people for the interests of imperialism. This was to be seen in Nandigram and Singur. In Singur, an SEZ was set up and land was acquired for Tata, a middleman for imperialist capital, to set up factories in the village. The CPM government was also acquiring land for the foreign capitalist Salim group of Indonesia. There were widespread protests against this undemocratic move that was done to serve the interests of the capitalists. The movement in Singur and Nandigram had to face violent fascist repression. The police had fired on the villagers. It was eye line shooting done to kill the villagers. Official records say that at least 15 people were killed here. According to the locals, the numbers are much greater and the bodies of many of the villagers were hidden under rubble. Harmad Vahini, the armed hired force of the CPM also started their onslaught. Bombing and shooting of the villagers were done by the Harmad Vahini. Houses were looted and several were completely destroyed. The police did not get involved when all of this was happening. Women and children had to face intense violence. Many of the women were molested and even raped by the Harmad Vahini. They were functioning like fascists. Barbaric violence was unleashed on the poor villagers to ensure that the capitalists can have more profit
Nandigram and Singur led to the political decimation of the sell-out Parliamentary left in the West Bengal, but they continue these policies in Keralam. In Keralam, they have acquired land and are building a port in Vizhinjam. The rehabilitation of the fisher people who will be displaced is not being done properly. The community is also worried that environmental issues will lead to further destruction of the shoreline and will impact fishing in the region. There were protests in Vizhinjam against the port. The so called ‘communists’ marched together with the fascists against the fisher people. Here, they abandoned even pretensions of progressiveness and allied with the Brahminical fascists so that they can serve the comprador capitalists better.
The left often criticises Modi for his constant trips abroad to get more investment. The Prime Minister is more interested in going abroad to showcase how India is ideal for imperialist loot as opposed to governing his own country. The Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan is also following the practices of the Prime Minister. In 6 years, the Chief Minister has done 50 trip abroad and was able to acquire about 300 crore worth of investment. Foreign direct investment to India is one of the best ways to foster loot for imperialists. Kerala also hosted an investment meet of well-known Norwegian companies to gain more investment. A party that shouts slogans against neo-liberalism is ensuring the neoliberal loot by imperialist.
Kerala is an environmentally sensitive area with the constant threat of floods. This ecological disaster has happened multiple times in Keralam very recently. The CPM government is exacerbating this threat in Keralam by doing an anti-environmental, pro-imperialist developmental model. Kerala government has given consent for the Sabarimala airport project which is in a severely economically sensitive region. They have also passed many greenfield projects which are not environmentally sustainable due to the climatic conditions of the Western Ghats but serve the interests of the imperial capital. The Silver line project where the government is planning to establish a super-fast ‘K-Rail’ across the length of India is funded by Japanese capital. There were widespread protests against this project in Keralam. There are also concerns that the project will lead to environmental degradation. This ‘Marxist-Leninist’ party uses its ‘Marxist-Leninism, not to fight financial capital but to help it grow its tentacles across Keralam.
The Chengara land struggle is another incident that shows how the CPM is always ready to support the interests of imperialist capital and their lackeys, the comprador capital. Estates that were leased out to Harrison Malayalam, that is a subsidiary of the comprador capitalist Goenka group, was occupied by landless Dalits and Adivasis. The leases of many of the estates had expired and Harrison Malayalam had not paid the lease to many of these estates. Moreover, many of the estates had land that was illegally occupied by Harrison Malayalam , land that was not even leased to them. The Chengara land struggle was done to occupy this land. The CPM government actively supported the Goenka group and did not fulfil the interests of the landless Dalits and Adivasis. They are the ideal lap dogs of imperialism running with the hares and hunting with the hounds.
CPM and Marxism are clearly oxymorons. The party just has Marxism in their name and for all practical purposes they are part of the ruling class and they serve the interests of the Brahminical fascist state. This corrupted party calling itself Marxists is a disgrace to Marx. There is no difference between the policies of CPM and the openly bourgeoisie and feudal parties, BJP and Congress. This red cloak of this Brahminical fascist party is getting removed and they won’t be able to sustain for long. The party was the second largest parliamentary party in India and now the number of seats that they have in the parliament is in single digits. Their influence is limited to Keralam, even here, the Silverline protests and Vizhinjam movement show the dissatisfaction of the people against this imperialist lapdog that has betrayed the interests of the masses. For the enthusiastic progressive individuals who commit to prolonged work for the organs of this party, a serious evaluation of the nature of its leadership and its practice must be done.
by Ramnit Kaur, a student of law at O.P. Jindal Global University
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- Murali (Ajith), K. (2020) Critiquing Brahmanism: A Collection of Essays. Paris: Foreign Languages Press.
- Murali (Ajith), K. (2002) Bhoomi, Jaathi, Bhandanam. Kochi: Kanal.
- Anand Bazaar Patrika for pictures
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