One recurrent campaign by the Government of India, by numerous mainstream politicians, as well as by a number of newspapers, journals and their journalists, is that civil rights organisations who stand up for the rights of Maoists are in effect aiding the Maoists. They too, it is argued, are guilty of waging war or perpetrating terror in order to damage the Indian state.
A number of vital issues are involved here, and in one essay one cannot cover them all. The first point that needs to be clarified is that according to the Constitution of India, every citizen of India is entitled to certain rights. Nobody can be convicted without the due process of arrest, production in court, charge sheeting in proper time, case hearings, and conviction, with proper legal assistance being available to the accused. It is for this reason that any genuine civil liberties/democratic rights movement will always make a distinction between the Maoists and the Indian state. The CPI(Maoist) is by its own proclamation an organisation that rejects the Constitution of India. It is an organisation that is banking on an escalation of violence, whereby the people in the middle, those who do not feel any urge to identify themselves with the state regardless of its errors and crimes, will, in case the polarisation is complete, will tend to choose the Maoists. Moreover, the CPI (Maoist) is an organisation that rejects democracy – not merely the limited bourgeois parliamentary democracy, but even more the vision of a wider socialist democracy shared not only by Marx and Engels and their colleagues, but the early Bolsheviks all the way to the seizure of power and till the outbreak of the civil war. Rather, they identify socialism with the dead end of one party rule, extreme violence on any dissent, all the way to summary “trials” and killings of opponents, a line opened by Stalin and continued with minor variations by heroes like Pol Pot and Ceausescu.
Any opposition to the CPI (Maoist) will therefore be a political opposition, rather than a civil rights opposition. One can take a liberal position, and condemn them for their non-acceptance of an abstract democracy. One can take a Gandhian position and condemn them for their adherence to violence. Or one can take a revolutionary Marxist position and condemn them for substitutionism (replacing the working class as the revolutionary subject by the self-proclaimed and self-elected vanguard), for their rejection of genuine working class democracy, which for Marx meant a great deepening of what he saw as a limited, truncated democracy under capitalism, and not for their acceptance of violence, since under certain circumstances violence may be the only method of resistance, but for their glorification of violence. What cannot do is accuse them of violating their responsibilities under the constitution, since they repudiate it.
The Indian state cannot repudiate the constitution. This has nothing to do with whether one is soft on the Maoists or not. This has, instead, everything to do with protecting the rights of every Indian citizen. This state was created through a process that also made the constitution. Repudiation of the constitution in the name of fighting “Naxalism” can lead to a police state. Consider the case of Arundhati Roy. Roy wrote an article on the Maoists, which could be legitimately characterised as a romanticised picture, and one that, through its absolutely valid characterisiation of the violence perpetrated by the state while remaining silent about the Maoists, and indeed while only painting a rosy picture of the commitment of their cadres and so forth, can create a false image about the Maoists. But if this is the reason to charge her with being a Maoist sympathiser and arguing that she too should be prosecuted under the UAPA or other laws, then obviously civil liberties have gone for a toss. Or take the case of Nandini Sundar. This Delhi-based Professor was part of a government committee that submitted a report, warning the government that systematic exploitation of adivasis was at the root of their anger, and improving their conditions was a key challenge. Sundar has been extremely vocal against the Salwa Judum, a non-governmental militia set up by the government, which has been creating terror in the name of fighting the Maoists. According to the government and large sections of the media, the Salwa Judum is a spontaneous and self-initiated reaction to Maoist oppression, and they hailed it as a turning point in the fight against Naxalism. Fact finding teams, sent by the CPI, by the PUCL, and others, have reported differently. As far back as April 2006, several civil liberties oranisations reported the following: more money was being allocated for anti-Naxal operations than for development; and the adivasis are acutely aware that under the present dispensation they have no opportunity for development. Interestingly, this report explains that Salwa Judum means, approximately, “purification hunt” (an apt forerunner of “Green Hunt’?). The report goes on to state that “the fact is that the Salwa Judum is being led by sections of local elites, contractors and traders, that it is officially part of anti-naxal initiatives, and that it is being actively supported by state agencies to an unprecedented degree”. It also explains that “video shots of Salwa Judum meetings clearly show the Chief Minister, the Collector and politicians like Mahendra Karma addressing these, and security personnel accompanying Salwa Judum processions”. Thus, Nandini Sundar is hardly a voice in the wilderness when she explains that state backed terrorism in the interest of the upper classes is being conducted in the name of fighting the “Naxalite menace”. But since she has persisted in criticizing the government for what is happening in Chhatisgarh, she is to be viewed as a Maoist sympathizer. As she reported in the internet earlier this year, when she and a colleague visited Chhattisgarh, the police followed them, made it impossible for them to book rooms in hotels, and tried to intimidate their drivers.
This line of attack can be constantly widened. If Roy, Sundar, or members of PUDR, APDR, PUCL, etc are targeted as covert Maoists, without any proof, without cases being disposed, but the people being smeared at will, then anyone who defends them in turn can be targeted next. Binayak Sen of PUCL was arrested as a Maoist. He got bail after a very long and sustained national and international campaign, including such actions as campaigns by numerous Nobel laureates. Being Maoist is not a crime under the ordinary laws. One must understand that special laws are being created to tackle them. Thus, the UAPA amendment, passed unanimously by Parliament after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, are being invoked, because one otherwise has to bring specific cases. What has Sundar done? Has she taken shots at some police officer? Has she smuggled guns from across the border or built them in some cellar? What did Sen do? This is a restoration of the concept of “political crime”. So while murders committed under instigations of khap panchayats will be treated as “sensitive issues”, anyone speaking for civil liberties will be accused of being a Maoist. And while urban figures may have some protection, tese methods will lead to intensification of an already massive state terrorism on ordinary people who protest and demand their rights. Thus, women who protested against the police brutality and rape in Sonamukhi village near Jhargram are now being smeared as font persons for the CPI(Maoist). This can only end, unless halted by a determined struggle, by turning the whole of India into a police state, where any criticism of the government will be viewed as signs of Maoism.
Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) is deeply concerned and disturbed by the news report Raped repeatedly, Naxal leader quits Red ranks that appeared on page 1 of the Times of India, dated August 24, 2010.
We unequivocally condemn any such violence and sexual assault inflicted on women, irrespective of the perpetrator(s), whether state or non state, in any situation, anywhere in the country. If the story reported by the leading daily Times of India is correct, it is very serious and condemnable and the woman is not safe; the law should take its course and action should be taken against the accused. And if the story has been planted or used by the state and establishment as some seem to believe, we still fear for her safety from the police and security forces now that she has surrendered. It needs to be ensured that she will not be put under any pressure and that she will get access to lawyers and family.
However, we question the responsibility of the media and its credibility. Such reporting has serious implications and we as feminists and women’s groups wish to draw the attention of TOI and its readership to the following points in the interest of the privacy, security and safety of women:
Firstly, the woman’s name and position have been revealed in the report, which is against the norms of reporting of rape. The picture in the newspaper is very clear and does little to hide her identity. TOI’s concern for the woman in this respect is lacking.
Secondly, the report appears to be interested more in highlighting such cases in a loose and highly sensational way rather than sticking to facts with rigor. The report has conflated the very serious issue of rape and sexual violence with issues of sexual choices. In fact, the report uses statements like `she is caught in an ideology that she cannot understand’ but makes no attempt to engage with her at an intellectual level, even though she is reportedly an experienced person and not merely a woman among men.
Thirdly, the story has not been substantiated as per journalistic obligations. Why has the reporter not made any effort to get any version of other sources- of perhaps differing hues?
Fourthly, TOI needs to be more impartial in its reporting of cases of rape, irrespective of who the rapist is. We find that sexual violence by the army, police and paramilitary forces, in the ongoing military operations, is routinely ignored by the TOI as well as other media sources. This continues to place innumerable women across the country in extremely vulnerable situations; rapes and sexual assault of women by police and paramilitary in Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, with the inordinate and suffocating presence of the police and paramilitary, has risen so high that fear and intimidation of women is high too. It has become impossible for an assaulted woman to even lodge an FIR. Many such survivors of rape in these regions have been harassed and forced to withdraw their complaints.
Finally, the Home Minister has chosen to comment on the TOI story and claim there are more such cases - whereas he has been studiously silent on the many well documented instances where adivasi and poor women have tried to pursue cases of rape against police, paramilitary and SPOs. A recent example is that of an eighteen-year old girl in Gajapati district of Orissa, allegedly Maoist, who was picked up from her village in February along with another person, during combing operations by security forces, gang-raped and is now languishing in jail. No charge sheet has as yet been filed even after 6 months. We urge TOI to bring such stories to its readership across the country so that these women also get some justice. We urge the entire media and the government to break its silence on the miscarriage of justice in the Khairlanji case.
As a national forum against sexual violence and state repression, we assert that violence against women cannot and should not be used as weapons of war, by the warring sides to score points against each other. We are equal citizens of India- our sexuality cannot be used against us. The state should allow free movement in these areas so that it is possible to conduct impartial investigations of reports of sexual violence against women.
Committed to the struggle against sexual violence and state repression,
Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression
WSS is a network of women's rights, dalit rights, human rights and civil liberties organizations across India. It is a non-funded grassroots effort by women to stem the violence being perpetrated upon our bodies and on our societies by the State’s forces, by non-state actors and by the inability of our government to resolve conflict in a meaningful, sustainable and effective manner.
As represented by: AIPWA, AISA (Delhi), APDR (West Bengal), Action India, All Tripura Indigenous and Minority Association, Alternate Law Forum, Ananya (Karnataka), Anhad (Delhi), Baiga Mahapanchayat (Chhattisgarh), Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan, CAVOW (India), CPDR (Maharashtra), Campaign for Justice and Peace (Karnataka), Chhattisgarh Mahila Adhikar Manch, Chhattisgarh Mahila Mukti Morcha, Dalit Adivasi Manch (Chhattisgarh), Dalit Stree Shakti (Andhra Pradesh), HumAnE (Orissa), HRLN (Jammu & Kashmir), HRLN (Madhya Pradesh), Hengasara Hakkina Sangha (Karnataka), Human Rights Alert (Manipur), IRMA (Manipur), IWID, Jagori (Delhi), Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (Madhya Pradesh), Jan Jagruti Manch (Chhattisgarh), Lalgarh Morcha, Lokayata (Maharashtra), MARA (Karnataka), Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch, NAPM (Karnataka), NBA (Madhya Pradesh), Namma Manasa (Karnataka), Nari Mukti Sanstha (Delhi), Navsarjan Sanstha (Gujarat), Naya Chhattisgarh Mahila Sangh, Nirantar (Delhi), PSSK (Chhattisgarh), Patel Pat Chaunki (Chhattisgarh), Pratidhwani (Delhi), PUCL (india), Rachna Manch, Rohidas Mahila Kalyan Samiti (Chhattisgarh), Saheli (Delhi), Sahmet (Madhya Pradesh), Samajwadi Jan Parishad (Madhya Pradesh), Samata Vedike (Karnataka), Samanatha Mahila Vedike (Karnataka), Sangini (Madhya Pradesh), Vanangana (Uttar Pradesh), Vidyarthi Yuvjan Sabha, Women’s Right Resource Center (Madhya Pradesh), Yuva Samvaad (Madhya Pradesh), Stree Adhikar Sanghatan (Uttar Pradesh), Stree Jagruti Samiti, Trade Union Solidarity Committee (Maharashtra), WinG, Women Against Militarization and State Violence (The Other Media), Women’s Right Resource Center, Women’s Education Forum (Chhattisgarh), and many individuals.
|The following is excerpted from the transcript of a school on the history of the Fourth International organised by the International Marxist Group in London in 1976. It is reproduced here from the Ernest Mandel Internet Archive.
I want to go into the question of the resistance movement in Europe between 1940 and 1944 in detail. I want to do so especially because some comrades for whom I have respect, and whom I hope to see back in the Fourth International, the comrades of the Lutte Ouvrière group in France, have made it their special point of honour to raise this question against the Fourth International.
From the foundation of the Communist International, communists were educated in a principled rejection of the idea of "national defence" or "defence of the fatherland" in the imperialist countries. This meant a total refusal to have anything to do with imperialist wars. The Trotskyist movement was educated in the same spirit. This was all the more necessary with the right-wing turn of the Comintern and the Stalin-Laval pact in 1935, which turned the Stalinists in the West European countries, and in some colonial countries, into the worst advocates of pro-imperialist chauvinism.
In India, for instance, this led to the disastrous betrayal by the Stalinists of the national uprising in 1942. When the uprising took place, the British colonialists opened the jails for the leaders of the Indian Communist Party in order to transform them into agitators against the uprising and for the imperialist war. This tremendous betrayal laid the basis for the continuous mass influence of the bourgeois nationalist Congress Party in the following decades.
Our movement was inoculated against nationalism in imperialist countries, against the idea of supporting imperialist war efforts in any form whatsoever. That was a good education, and I do not propose to revise that tradition. But what it left out of account were elements of the much more complex Leninist position in the First World War. It is simply not true that Lenin's position then can be reduced to the formula: "This is a reactionary imperialist war. We have nothing to do with it." Lenin's position was much more sophisticated. He said: "There are at least two wars, and we want to introduce a third one." (The third one was the proletarian civil war against the bourgeoisie which in actual fact came out of the war in Russia.)
Lenin fought a determined struggle against sectarian currents inside the internationalist tendency who did not recognise the distinction between these two wars. He pointed out: "There is an inter-imperialist war. With that war we have nothing to do. But there are also wars of national uprising by oppressed nationalities. The Irish uprising is 100 per cent justified. Even if German imperialism tries to profit from it, even if leaders of the national movement link up with German submarines, this does not change the just nature of the Irish war of independence against British imperialism. The same thing is true for the national movement in the colonies and the semi-colonies, the Indian movement, the Turkish movement, the Persian movement." And he added: "The same thing is true for the oppressed nationalities in Russia and Austro-Hungary. The Polish national movement is a just movement, the Czech national movement is a just movement. A movement by any oppressed nationality against the imperialist oppressor is a just movement. And the fact that the leadership of these movements could betray by linking these movements politically and organizationally to imperialism is a reason to denounce these leaders, not a reason to condemn these movements."
Now if we look at the problem of World War II from that more dialectical, more correct Leninist point of view, we have to say that it was a very complicated business indeed. I would say, at the risk of putting it a bit too strongly, that the Second World War was in reality a combination of five different wars. That may seem an outrageous proposition at first sight, but I think closer examination will bear it out.
First, there was an inter-imperialist war, a war between the Nazi, Italian, and Japanese imperialists on the one hand, and the Anglo-American-French imperialists on the other hand. That was a reactionary war, a war between different groups of imperialist powers. We had nothing to do with that war, we were totally against it.
Second, there was a just war of self-defence by the people of China, an oppressed semi-colonial country, against Japanese imperialism. At no moment was Chiang Kai-shek's alliance with American imperialism a justification for any revolutionary to change their judgement on the nature of the Chinese war. It was a war of national liberation against a robber gang, the Japanese imperialists, who wanted to enslave the Chinese people. Trotsky was absolutely clear and unambiguous on this. That war of independence started before the Second World War, in 1937; in a certain sense, it started in 1931 with the Japanese Manchurian adventure. It became intertwined with the Second World War, but it remained a separate and autonomous ingredient of it.
Third, there was a just war of national defence of the Soviet Union, a workers state, against an imperialist power. The fact that the Soviet leadership allied itself not only in a military way - which was absolutely justified - but also politically with the Western imperialists in no way changed the just nature of that war. The war of the Soviet workers and peasants, of the Soviet peoples and the Soviet state, to defend the Soviet Union against German imperialism was a just war from any Marxist-Leninist point of view. In that war we were 100 per cent for the victory of one camp, without any reservations or question marks. We were for absolute victory of the Soviet people against the murderous robbers of German imperialism.
Fourth, there was a just war of national liberation of the oppressed colonial peoples of Africa and Asia (in Latin America there was no such war), launched by the masses against British and French imperialism, sometimes against Japanese imperialism, and sometimes against both in succession, one after the other. Again, these were absolutely justified wars of national liberation, regardless of the particular character of the imperialist power. We were just as much for the victory of the Indian people's uprising against British imperialism, and the small beginnings of the uprising in Ceylon, as we were in favour of the victory of the Burmese, Indochinese, and Indonesian guerrillas against Japanese, French, and Dutch imperialism successively. In the Philippines the situation was even more complex. I do not want to go into all the details, but the basic point is that all these wars of national liberation were just wars, regardless of the nature of their political leadership. You do not have to place any political confidence in or give any political support to the leaders of a particular struggle in order to recognise the justness of that struggle. When a strike is led by treacherous trade union bureaucrats you do not put any trust in them - but nor do you stop supporting the strike.
Now I come to the fifth war, which is the most complex. I would not say that it was going on in the whole of Europe occupied by Nazi imperialism, but more especially in two countries, Yugoslavia and Greece, to a great extent in Poland, and incipiently in France and Italy. That was a war of liberation by the oppressed workers, peasants, and urban petty bourgeoisie against the German Nazi imperialists and their stooges. To deny the autonomous nature of that war means saying in reality that the workers and peasants of Western Europe had no right to fight against those who were enslaving them at that moment unless their minds were set clearly against bringing in other enslavers in place of the existing ones. That is an unacceptable position.
It is true that if the leadership of that mass resistance remained in the hands of bourgeois nationalists, of Stalinists or social democrats, it could eventually be sold out to the Western imperialists. It was the duty of the revolutionaries to prevent this from happening by trying to oust these fakers from the leadership of the movement. But it was impossible to prevent such a betrayal by abstaining from participating in that movement.
What lay behind that fifth war? It was the inhuman conditions which existed in the occupied countries. How can anyone doubt that? How can anyone tell us that the real reason for the uprising was some ideological framework - such as the chauvinism of the French people or of the CP leadership? Such an explanation is nonsense. People did not fight because they were chauvinists. People were fighting because they were hungry, because they were over-exploited, because there were mass deportations of slave labour to Germany, because there was mass slaughter, because there were concentration camps, because there was no right to strike, because unions were banned, because communists, socialists and trade unionists were being put in prison.
That's why people were rising, and not because they were chauvinists. They were often chauvinists too, but that was not the main reason. The main reason was their inhuman material living conditions, their social, political, and national oppression, which was so intolerable that it pushed millions onto the road of struggle. And you have to answer the question: was it a just struggle, or was it wrong to rise against this over-exploitation and oppression? Who can seriously argue that the working class of Western or Eastern Europe should have abstained or remained passive towards the horrors of Nazi oppression and Nazi occupation? That position is indefensible.
So the only correct position was to say that there was a fifth war which was also an autonomous aspect of what was going on between 1939 and 1945. The correct revolutionary Marxist position (I say this with a certain apologetic tendency, because it was the one defended from the beginning by the Belgian Trotskyists against what I would call both the right wing and the ultra-left wing of the European Trotskyist movement at that time) should have been as follows: to support fully all mass struggles and uprisings, whether armed or unarmed, against Nazi imperialism in occupied Europe, in order to fight to transform them into a victorious socialist revolution - that is, to fight to oust from the leadership of the struggles those who were linking them up with the Western imperialists, and who wanted in reality to maintain capitalism at the end of the war, as in fact happened.
We have to understand that what started in Europe in 1941 was a genuine new variant of a process of permanent revolution, which could transform that resistance movement into a socialist revolution. I say, "could", but in at least one example that was what actually happened. It happened in Yugoslavia. That's exactly what the Yugoslav Communists did.
Whatever our criticisms of the bureaucratic way in which they did it, the crimes they committed in the course of it, or the political and ideological deviations which accompanied that process, fundamentally that is what they did. We have no intention of being apologists for Tito, but we have to understand what he did. It was an amazing thing. At the start of the uprising in 1941 the Yugoslav CP had a mere 5,000 active participants. Yet in 1945 they took power at the head of an army of half a million workers and peasants. That was no small feat. They saw the possibility and the opportunity. They behaved as revolutionaries - bureaucratic-centrist revolutionaries of Stalinist origin, if you like, but you cannot call that counter-revolutionary. They destroyed capitalism. It was not the Soviet army, it was not Stalin, as a result of the "cold war", who destroyed capitalism in Yugoslavia. It was the Yugoslav CP which led this struggle, accompanied by a big fight against Stalin.
A1l the proofs are there - all the letters sent by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to the Yugoslavs, saying: "Do not attack private property. Do not push the Americans into hostility to the Soviet Union by attacking private property." And Tito and the leaders of the Communist Party did not give a damn about what Stalin told them to do or not to do. They led a genuine process of permanent revolution in the historical sense of the word, transformed a mass uprising against foreign imperialist occupation - an uprising which started on an inter-class basis, but under a bureaucratic proletarian leadership - into a genuine socialist revolution.
At the end of 1945, Yugoslavia became a workers state. There was a tremendous mass uprising in 1944-45, the workers took over the factories, the land was taken over by the peasants (and later by the state, in an exaggerated and over-centralised manner). Private property was largely destroyed. Nobody can really deny that the Yugoslav Communist Party destroyed capitalism, even if it was through its own bureaucratic methods, repressing workers democracy, even shooting some people whom it accused of being Trotskyists (which was not true - there was no Trotskyist section in Yugoslavia then or at any time previously). And it did not destroy capitalism through some bureaucratic moves with a foreign army, as in Eastern Europe, but through a genuine popular revolution, a huge mass mobilisation, one of the hugest ever seen in Europe. You should study the history of what happened in Yugoslavia - how, as bourgeois writers say, in every single village there was a civil war. That's the truth of it. The only comparison you can make is with Vietnam.
So I think that revolutionaries should basically have tried to do in the other occupied countries what the Yugoslav Communists did in Yugoslavia - of course with better methods and better results, leading to workers democracy and workers power directly exercised by workers councils, and not by a bureaucratised workers party and a privileged bureaucracy.
That is not to say at all that it was our fault if the proletarian revolution failed in Europe in 1945, because we did not apply the correct line in the resistance movement. That would be ridiculous. Even with the best of lines, the relationship of forces was such that we would not have succeeded. The relationship of forces between the Communist parties and us, the prestige of the CPs, the links of the CPs with the Soviet Union, the low level of working class consciousness as a result of a long period of defeats - all that made it impossible for the Trotskyists really to compete with the Stalinists for the leadership of the mass movement. So the mistakes which were made, both in a right-wing sense and in an ultra-left sense, actually had very little effect on history. They are simply lessons from which we have to draw a political conclusion in order not to repeat these mistakes in future. We cannot say that we failed to influence history as a result of these mistakes.
These lessons were of a dual nature. The leading comrades of one of the two French Trotskyist organizations, the POI (which was the official section), made right-wing mistakes in 1940-41. There is no doubt about that. They started from a correct line essentially, the one I have just outlined, but they took it one step too far. In the implementation of that line they included temporary blocs with what they called the "national bourgeoisie".
I should add they were able to use one sentence by Trotsky in support of their position. Remember that before arriving too hastily at a judgement on these questions. This sentence came at the beginning of one of Trotsky's last articles: "France is being transformed into an oppressed nation." In an oppressed nation there is no principled reason to reject temporary, tactical agreements with the "national bourgeoisie" against imperialism. There are conditions: we do not make a political bloc with the bourgeoisie. But purely tactical agreements with the national bourgeoisie are acceptable. We should, for instance, have made such an agreement in the 1942 uprising in India. It is a question of tactics, not of principle.
What was wrong in the position of the POI leadership was to make an extrapolation from a temporary, conjuncture situation. If France had permanently become a semi-colonial country, that would have been another story. But it was a temporary situation, just an episode in the war. France remained an imperialist power, with imperialist structures, which continued through the Gaullist operation to exploit many colonial peoples and maintain its empire in Africa intact. To change one's attitude towards the bourgeoisie simply in the light of what happened over a couple of years on the territory of France was a premature move which contained within it the seed of major political mistakes.
In fact it did not lead to anything in practice. Those who say that the French Trotskyists "betrayed" by making a bloc with the bourgeoisie in 1940-41 do not understand the difference between the beginning of a theoretical mistake and an actual treacherous intervention in the class struggle. There was never any agreement with the bourgeoisie, never any support for them when it came to the point. Whenever strikes took place the French Trotskyists were 100 per cent on the side of the workers. Whether it was a strike against French capitalists, German capitalists, or a combination of both, they were on the side of the workers every time. So where was the betrayal? It just confuses a possible political mistake and an actual theoretical one - which eventually could perhaps have had grave consequences, but in actual fact never did. That it was a mistake I naturally do not deny. But I think the comrades of the POI minority who fought against it did a good job, and by 1942 it was reversed and did not come up again.
The sectarian mistake, however, was in my opinion much graver. Here the ultra-left wing of the Trotskyist movement denied any progressive ingredient in the resistance movement and refused to make any distinction between the mass resistance, the armed mass struggle, and the manoeuvres and plans of the bourgeois nationalist. social democratic or Stalinist misleaders of the masses. That mistake was much worse because it led to abstention on what were important living struggles of the masses. Those comrades (such as the Lutte Ouvrière group) who persist even today in identifying the mass movements in the occupied countries with imperialism - saying that the war in Yugoslavia was an imperialist war because it was conducted by nationalists - are completely revising the Marxist method. Instead of defining the class nature of a mass movement by its objective roots and significance, they try to do so on the basis of its ideology. This is an unacceptable backward step towards historical idealism. When workers rise against exploitation and oppression with nationalist slogans, you say: "The rising is correct; please change the slogans." You do not say: "The rising is bad because the slogans are bad." It does not become bourgeois because the slogans are bourgeois - that is a wrong and absolutely unmaterialist approach.
Trotsky warned the Trotskyist movement against precisely such mistakes in his last basic document, the Manifesto of the 1940 emergency conference. He pointed out that they should be careful not to judge workers in the same way as the bourgeoisie even when they talked about national defence. It was necessary to distinguish between what they said and what they meant - to judge the objective historical nature of their intervention rather than the words they used. And the fact that sectarian sections of the Trotskyist movement did not understand that, and took an abstentionist position on big clashes involving hundreds of thousands or even millions of people, was very dangerous for the future of the Fourth International.To abstain from such clashes on ideological grounds would have been absolutely suicidal for a living revolutionary movement. But we had no section in Yugoslavia. And had we had one, it would happily not have been sectarian. Otherwise we could not address the Yugoslav Communists and workers with the authority which we have today. Our first intervention in Yugoslavia was only in 1948; it was a good one, and so now we can speak with an unblemished banner and considerable moral authority in Yugoslavia. But if the Lutte Ouvrière line had been applied in practice between 1941 and 1944 in Yugoslavia, and if Yugoslav Trotskyists had been neutral in that civil war, we would not be very proud today and we would certainly not be in a strong position to defend the programme of the Fourth International. As it is, some of the Yugoslav Communists who later became Trotskyists were heroes in the civil war, which gives them a certain standing and moral authority. It makes it easier for them and for us to discuss Trotskyism in Yugoslavia today. If we had to carry the moral blemish of passivity and abstention in a huge civil war, we would, to say the least, be in a very bad position today.