Updates

Articles

Articles posted by Radical Socialist on various issues.

DEMAND THE RESIGNATION OF TAPAS PAL FROM PARLIAMENT AND LEGAL ACTION AGAINST HIM:

DEMAND THE RESIGNATION OF TAPAS PAL FROM PARLIAMENT AND LEGAL ACTION AGAINST HIM:

FIGHT THE PERSISTENCE OF POLITICAL RAPES AND THREATS OF THE SAME

 

Tapas Pal, film actor and in recent times a Trinamul Congress Member of Parliament, has reiterated openly the threat that many political leaders utter a little covertly. He has stated that if women supporters of “our party” are attacked, men of the party will be sent to rape women of the opposition. In earlier times, at least since the rise of mass communal and casteist politics in India, this had been a regular strategy of such communal/casteist forces. This was taken over and used systematically by the Hindutva forces, for example in Gujarat during the 2002 pogroms, when the false news that women had been dragged from a train and raped by Muslims was spread in order to incite rioting mobs of Hindutva cadres to rape and sexually attack Muslim women (as well as to kill men, women and children because of the Godhra deaths). 


In West Bengal, in the past, we have seen the former ruling party, the CPI(M), and its leaders using violent and sexist language against women, and have condemned these immediately. We have also seen the use of rape as a political weapon on several occasions, and have joined hands with feminists and women’s rights groups, civil liberties organisations, and other progressives, to resist such cases, regardless of the party, class, community or caste colour, for we do not believe that any progressive social or political work can be achieved using such means, and see it as our task to resist all practices that promote rape or violence on women, and the use of political violence under conditions of democracy. 


This violent, criminalized and sexist political culture has been absorbed and regurgitated by the ruling TMC of West Bengal. The latest case is the speech by Mr. Pal, the M.P., at a meeting in Krishnanagar today. He claimed that CPI(M) members had attacked his party members, and said that not as an MP, but as a TMC activist, he was warning that he would avenge such things. He went on to threaten the killing of CPI(M) members and the rape of women. 


Mr. Pal has been elected MP, and as long as he holds on to that position, public utterances by him have that effect. So whatever his disclaimer, this was an MP, someone who has sworn to uphold the Constitution of India, urging people to go and rape women of opposition parties and kill members of the opposition. As for the recurrent claim that the CPI(M) is using violence, we question this on two grounds. If indeed the CPI(M) uses violence, the response should have been the use of due legal process. And secondly, the CPI(M) today is in shambles. Its cadre base is so pathetic that in the elections of 2014 the Left Front had its share of votes lowered to 29 per cent and the CPI(M) could not even put enough people even in all booths. So the bogey of CPI(M) violence, based on what was a reality in the past, is used by Pal to call for nothing less than lynch law, a call that can be easily used to stage “events” and then take “revenge”. The ultimate case one can remind is the Reichstag fire, but plenty of lesser events exist. 


The TMC has tried to go into a damage control mode by saying that the context must be examined. We reject this absolutely. No context justifies calling for killing the members of an opposition party or raping their women cadres. 


Above all, however, we warn that appealing to various state institutions will be futile, unless ordinary people, women and men, people in political parties, people in social movements, unite to protest and resist. 
Our goal is not one of scoring points, nor of removing one hated government only to replace them by a new set of the same kind but to defend the democratic rights of everyone. Radical Socialist has always taken the position that in a bourgeois polity, any call for defending democracy must stress the role of mass action rather than calling upon the bureaucratic state of the ruling class. It is not by appealing against Pal to Narendra Modi, but by appealing to the democratic traditions of our working people, that we must mobilise against the political use of rape. 


We demand:
• Immediate legal action against Tapas Pal by the Government of West Bengal. 
• Resignation of Mr. Pal from the Parliament.
• Proceedings against Mr. Pal to be initiated by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
• Immediate action be taken by the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Women.
• An end to criminalization of politics and use of women’s bodies as a political tool. 
• Safeguarding of democratic rights of all as enshrined in the Indian constitution.
• Right of women to move and work freely without the constant fear of being sexually assaulted.

30 June 2014

Support the Struggles of Brazilian Workers, Condemn the Dilma Rousseff Regime's Patronage of the Rich in the Name of Promoting the World Cup

Support the Struggles of Brazilian Workers, Condemn the Dilma Rousseff Regime's Patronage of the Rich in the Name of Promoting the World Cup

 

 

 

Statement of Radical Socialist, 12 June 2014

 

 

 

As the “World Cup fever” grips the world, or more accurately, as it is rammed down us through the media, Brazil has erupted in struggles. For a year, popular mobilizations of immense dimensions have been shaking the country.

 

 

 

At its peak, a million people or more have been out protesting. This is not some abstract protest. When in 2007 the Brazilian government of Luis Inacio da Silva (Lula), of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers Party) put forward its bid for the 2014 World Cup and was given it by FIFA, Brazil, like India, was seeing itself as part of a new acronym, BRICS, and imagining that the crisis of capitalism was finished and the country, notably its elite, were on the way to international stardom and the world cup would be the icing on the cake. $11 billion has been spent for the world cup by now. This at a time when the masses of working people are angry at the lack of development of educational and health facilities. As a result, the most visible governmental role over the World Cup has been to augment security repeatedly. 57000 troops, over 1,00,000 law enforcement personnel, even 34 anti-aircraft guns have been reportedly pressed into service.

 

 

 

Meanwhile, every opinion poll shows this growing cost of the World Cup has been viewed as detrimental by ordinary people. Workers, students, have come out, demanding a reorientation of government priorities. Students and teachers have struck, demanding more funding for education. But most worrying for the government in recent times has been the transport workers' struggles. From 5 June, Metro workers in Sao Paulo have been on strike. In order to achieve its goal of getting political prestige out of the World Cup, the government has taken strong action. The transport workers carry 4,000,000 passengers every day in the city. On 8 June, the courts declared the strike illegal. They demanded that workers must immediately return to work, and declared a fine of US $ 222,000 per day on their union for defying this order.

 

 

 

While Brazil has a Social Democratic regime, whereas in India a party rooted in fascist politics has gained parliamentary majority, what is common to both countries is the determination of the ruling class to use neo-liberalism for its own expansion at the cost of the toiling people. Radical Socialist expresses solidarity with all the fighting militants, especially with the workers of Sao Paulo out on strike and the militants attacked and beaten up by police on the eve of the World Cup. We call on working class, socialist and democratic organisations in India to protest, to express solidarity with the toiling people of Brazil.

 

 

 

Long live working class struggles for emancipation

 

 

 

Full support for the Sao Paulo Metro Workers

 

 

 

Long live proletarian internationalism.

 

Say No to Nuclear Power. Defend the anti-nuclear activists who are falsely accused

Say No to Nuclear Power. Defend the anti-nuclear activists who are falsely accused

 

 

 

Radical Socialist, 13 June 2014

 

 

 

India today is one of the few countries in the world seeking to pursue in an unabashed manner a nuclear programme. Both dimensions of it are damaging and reactionary. On one hand, any nuclear programme, however hidden under rhetoric of peaceful use, covers the potential for a nuclear weapons programme, as shown by Indira Gandhi and Atal Behari Vajpayee in Pokharan I and Pokharan II respectively. On the other hand, as Fukushima has been the latest accident, after Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Hanford, and others, to demonstrate, there is no fool-proof and safe nuclear power programme.

 

Yet, for two linked reasons, Indian capitalism is determined to press forward with nuclear weapons and nuclear power alike. It brings massive contracts. And this kind of centralized power production benefits the top layers of the capitalists. And such power production, like electricity from big dams, goes for a skewed “development” policy that subsidizes luxurious living for the wealthy while exploiting the toiling people.

 

 

 

And nuclear weaponization has been the goal of the Jan Sangh, forerunner of the BJP, ever since 1951, as they see it as essential to securing a higher status for the Indian state in the global pecking order.

 

As a result, the latest offensive against anti-nuclear activists, while utterly false, malicious, and contemptible, is also understandable. India's anti-nuclear activists, and organisations like the CNDP, many of whose leaders have been named in the leaked Intelligence document, are democratically minded Indian citizens. They are being reviled as “foreign agents”, in a stance that is typical of reactionary nationalism. Radical Socialist has been committed to a non-nuclear future for India, and stands by these activists and their campaigns. We call upon all socialists, environmentally concerned citizens, and democratic forces, to unite to defend the anti-nuclear activists from such false attacks.

 

New Environment Policy --Confused or dangerous priorities?

Confused or dangerous priorities? - The new Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change Mr. Prakash Javadekar spells his firm commitment to create conducive environment for investors.  At social and environmental cost? – Rohit Prajapati

Mr. Prakash Javadekar the new Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change taking over the charge promised to ensure “Fast Environment Clearances”. This is just beginning of the implementation of “Money-Festo – Modi-Festo” for the ministry of environment. A new system for online submission of applications for environmental clearances has been launched. But what about online submission of complains against pollution?

Mr. Javadekar also said that there shall be a maximum time limit for the entire approval process, with stage-wise timelines and promised continuous efforts to bring down the timelines for each stage. But what about the time limit to resolve complains against polluting industries?

Now we are in the era where all the three ministries the Environment, Labour and Industry individually and collectively are more and more concerned about better environment for industries and its profitability, industrial-friendly labour laws and the prosperity of industry so that industrialists can  concentrate only on their production and profits in the interest of GDP. There are other ministries also equally concerned about the industries & its profitability but now Environment, Labour and Industry Ministries are exclusively dedicated themselves to the industries and its profitability.

Keeping in mind the above objective of these three ministries in practice in the interest of  industries, their profitability and GDP the time has come to merge all these ministries in one ministry which can be named as Ministry of Industry, Investment, Industrial-friendly Environment & labour (MoIFEL). By merging all the three ministries the government will be more transparent to overtly expressing their real concerned and commitment for the industries, their profit and GDP.

Industries, their profitability and Environment Clearance were and are the main concerned of Ministry of Environment and Forest. I have not seen MoEF any point in past and in present showing real concerned, commitment for environment protection and complaints of people. The ministry has at best only shown concern and worry about ‘Environment Clearance’ and not even lip service to the people’s complaints about air pollution, contamination of river, surface and ground water, contamination of soil & agriculture produced and its effect on people’s health & life on the earth.

The present Government too so far has shown no commitment for environment protection & labour rights, so government want to get rid of the issue of environment and labour.

Mr. Modi’s government’s main priority is speedy environment clearance for the industries and not the environment protection. Mr. Modi’s manifesto clearly states “Frame the environment laws in a manner that provides no scope for confusion and will lead to speedy clearance of the proposals without delay.” This spells out assurance of Mr. Modi’s Government to the industrialist that they should not worry about environment laws as he will remove all their hurdles so that just by filing some papers and giving some vague assurance they will get the environment clearance.

This is the “Gujarat Model of Development” which led Gujarat State to become number one in pollution. To make it further crystal clear, Mr. Modi’s Manifesto overtly states that “Take all steps: like removing red-tapism involved in approvals, to make it easy to do business, invest in logistics infrastructure, ensure power supply and undertake labour reforms, besides other steps to create a conducive environment for investors.” The Modi-Festo says in very clear words to mortgage the environment and labour laws.

This capitalist development has never tried to arrive at even a realistic estimate of loss of livelihood, land acquisition, displacement, irreversible damage to environment and permanent loss of natural resources figures but the magnitude of the loss can be guessed from some of the facts emerging from various important research works on status of environment in Gujarat.

We should understand this new challenge and it is the time for the all the environment and trade union movements to launch collective struggle against this move of the present government.

 

Rohit Prajapati

Environment Activist

Growth of religious fundamentalism: challenges and the fight back

Growth of religious fundamentalism: challenges and the fight back

 

by: Farooq Tariq

 

Pakistan is witnessing an increase in fanaticism. Ever since the 2013 electoral victory of the right-wing Muslim League and Pakistan Tehreek -Insaaf, right-wing ideas are more popular. Banned terrorists networks are able to work publicly using different names or sometimes even under their own name. There is no state control of their activities.

 

With this right-wing turn, the mosques are full of worshipers. More and more young men grow beards to show their identity as Muslims. Religion is used to silence arguments. Violence has become a norm.

 

Target killings of radical journalists and human rights activists have already occurred. This is a dangerous situation for the Left, social democrats, radical liberals, trade unions and peasants, women, minority rights and youth organizations.

 

But Pakistan is not an exception. The whole of South Asia is in the grip of right-wing ideas. As the so-called progressive and democratic parties in government have failed to solve any of the basic issues confronting the working masses, extreme right-wing political trends have taken hold. This is happening despite the fact when conservative ideas have been tested in the past, they have failed miserably to address issues of human development.

 

The latest example is the landslide victory in the May 2014 general election of the conservative Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) under the leadership of Narendra Damodardas Modi. During 2002 Modi presided over a government in Gujrat that was responsible for the mass murder of Muslims in Ahmadabad. In fact, as part of an orchestrated campaign to create communal polarization, the BJP promoted communal violence in different parts of the country to seal Modi’s recent victory.

 

Narender Modi’s victory has boasted Pakistani religious fundamentalists. The traditional Mullah Military Alliance (MMA) is becoming more and more publicly visible. When Hamid Mir accused the ISI of orchestrating the attack that wounded him, the MMA and most of the extreme right religious groups, including the Jamaat Dawa, organized demonstrations to defend the country’s “institutions.”

 

In Pakistan, Islamic religious fundamentalism exploits every opportunity to promote its anti-Indian sentiments. As a direct result of this growth of extreme neo-fascist ideas, religious minorities are fleeing the country. Rather than waiting to be victimized by fanatics, members of the Ahmadies, Christians and Hindu communities feel compelled to leave.

 

As far back as 2006, the spread of religious fundamentalism was foreseen by world-known radical intellectual Noam Chomsky, who told interviewer Stephen Shalom: “In the past 25 years, fundamentalism has been turned for the first time into a major political force. It’s a conscious effort, I think, to try to undermine progressive social policies. Not radical policies but rather the mild social democratic policies of the preceding period are under serious attack.”

 

The most prestigious radical intellectual was absolutely on target. Religious fundamentalism has become the most serious challenge for the whole South Asian region in particular and the world in general. It is gripping one country after another.

 

What is religious fundamentalism? Essentially the term fundamentalism suggests going back to the basic texts and reproducing as closely as possible the laws and institutions found there. It has also come to mean a dogmatic adherence to tradition. Its orthodoxy breeds inflexibility and a rejection of modern society. It holds up a “golden era” as the model to which society must return. Islamic fundamentalists have exploited the dream of the “golden era of Islam” as a way out of the poverty and social problems we face.

 

In Pakistan the main tool for the growth of Islamic religious fundamentalism is the madrassa. According to conservative estimates, there are approximately 20,000 madrassas (USCIRF 2011). There are five main types, which are divided along sectarian and political lines: Deobandi, Barelvi, Shia, Ale-Hadith/Salafi (a minority sect which is close to the Saudi brand of Wahabi Islam) and Jamaat-e-Islami. Eighty-two percent of those belonging to Deobandi madrassas view the Taliban as their model (Ali, 2010).

 

Most of the terrorist activities carried out in Pakistan are linked to these madrassas. These have been an alternative to public schools in a country where less than two percent of the total government budget is spent on education.

 

Almost all donations to religious charities ends up in the coffers of these madrassas. They have become rich. The most expensive of vehicles are used by the leaders of the Islamic parties and extreme religious fanatic groups.

 

What can be done?

 

Should we just comment and watch the growth of extreme dangerous groups? NO, it will not save our lives, our class or our society. Such inaction would only help our most dangerous enemies.

 

There are some who pin their hopes on American imperialism and its allies to eliminate the fundamentalist threat. But this has not worked, and cannot work. Despite all the U.S. military solutions, combined with its “development agenda,” fundamentalism has grown, and will continue to grow.

 

Others may see religious fundamentalists as an anti-imperialist force. But they are not. Their authoritarianism and violence cannot be a force to free workers and peasants.

 

Still others—such as the PMLN and PTI--opt for talks with Tehreek Taliban Pakistan, the most brutal of all fanatic groups. But this has only legitimized terrorist activities against the Pakistan army, police, intelligence agencies and ordinary people.

 

Fundamentalism is a political challenge that has to be dismantled by arguments and organization. An immediate response should be a united and broad-based alliance of trade unions, radical social and political movements and organizations with an understanding of the danger religious fundamentalism represents. A clear political program would include opposition to it and its terrorist attacks. Key to this alliance would be organizing mass actions across Pakistan to oppose fanaticism and to defend those whom fundamentalism terrorizes. The alliance needs to defend progressive laws that secure the safety of all who live and work in the country. There should be no common action with the fanatics on any issue.

 

Institutions of the state must break all links with any form of religious fundamentalist organizations. This is the real source of the fundamentalist’s growth and power; these links must be severed. State institutions can no longer turn a blind eye to terrorism. Instead terrorist actions must be halted—and can be when the army and ISI cuts its ties with religious fundamentalism. No area of Pakistan should be under the control of the fanatics.

 

Education must be the state’s top priority. All citizens need to be provided with an equal opportunity for an education without fees. As a start, the federal education budget should be immediately increased to 10 percent of the GDP. Subsidies for religious madrassas should cease and all major madrassas nationalized.

 

In order to end feudalism, land must be distributed to the landless peasantry free of cost. Along with this massive land reform, wages of the working class need to be increased from minimum of 10,000 to at least 20,000 a month and a state-sponsored unemployment allowance instituted for all adult unemployed. These reforms would undercut fundamentalist propaganda.

 

A religious state cannot deal effectively with religious fanatics. Religion should be separated from the affairs of the state.

 

A strong regional and international base of solidarity and comradeship of like-minded groups and political parties would strengthen the work. An effective response to religious fundamentalists approaches is not state-to-state relationships but people-to-people contacts.

Revolutionaries in the a Time of Retreat -- Review of John Riddell

Revolutionaries in the a Time of Retreat – 1922 and the Fourth Congress of the Communist International

 

 

McTAGGART Ted M.

 

1 May 2014

 


 

Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922. Edited and translated by John Riddell Haymarket Books, 2012, 1310 pages, $55 paperback.

 

 

WHEN THE COMMUNIST International was founded in March 1919, the world was in a time of revolutionary ferment. Three and a half years after the capitulation to imperialist jingoism by the leaders of the Second International, the Russian Revolution had given a new impetus to the left wing of the international socialist movement, as the Bolsheviks demonstrated a revolutionary means to end imperialist war.

Following the Russian example, revolutionary workers of several other European countries formed soviets, or councils of workers’ deputies as organs of working-class power, but despite some fleeting successes — Soviet republics were briefly established in Bavaria and Hungary — state repression and co-optation by reformist elements demonstrated the need for coordinated revolutionary leadership.

The Communist International, or Comintern, sought not only a revolutionary regroupment of the international socialist movement after the capitulation of the Second International to national chauvinism. In contrast to the federalist model of the Second International, the Comintern was conceived as a “world party of socialist revolution,” in which member parties would be held accountable to an Executive Committee (the Executive Committee of the Communist International, hereafter ECCI), democratically elected by the World Congress to coordinate work and serve as a command center for international revolution, widely believed in the chaotic postwar years to be months, not years away.

In November of 1922, representatives of dozens of national Communist Parties across six continents converged in Petrograd for the Comintern’s Fourth Congress. The international landscape was no longer what it had been in 1919.

Throughout Europe, the postwar revolutionary upsurge had been countered by a bold capitalist counteroffensive; revolutionary workers’ movements in Germany and Italy had gone down in defeat, and it was becoming increasingly clear that international socialist revolution would not happen overnight.

Meanwhile, after emerging victorious from a lengthy civil war, Soviet Russia had recently enacted the New Economic Policy, viewed by many as representing a rapprochement with capitalism.

Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922, edited and translated by John Riddell, stands on its own as a snapshot of the international Communist movement at a key moment in its development. It is also the continuation of a much more ambitious documentary history of the Comintern begun by Riddell in 1984; Pathfinder Press published six volumes of The Communist International in Lenin’s Time under Riddell’s editorship between 1984 and 1993. Previous volumes document the first and second Comintern congresses as well as the Baku Congress of Peoples of the East in 1920. [1]

Toward the United Front, published by Haymarket Books (originally in hardcover from Brill), does not pick up chronologically where the last volume left off, though Riddell promises a future volume will document the proceedings of the Third Congress.

At well over a thousand pages and $55 for the paperback edition, it is unlikely Riddell’s work will reach outside a specialized audience. Nevertheless this is a valuable work of interest not just to historians but to revolutionary socialist activists of the 21st century, showing an international gathering of dedicated revolutionaries grappling with how to formulate a revolutionary policy for non-revolutionary times.

 Facing Capital’s Offensive

Vladimir Lenin frequently insisted that revolutionary Marxists must take as their starting point “a concrete analysis of a concrete situation.” In this spirit, the Fourth Congress devoted three days of plenary discussion to “The Capitalist Offensive” which informed the Comintern’s strategic orientation.

In his report, Karl Radek vividly portrays the state of the international class struggle. Radek cites strike statistics to show the gains won by workers in the immediate postwar period of militant struggle, and the systematic beating back of wages and working conditions coinciding with the waning of the workers’ movement beginning in 1920. He demonstrates the attempts of international capitalism to restore capitalist stability by forcing workers to bear the brunt of the Versailles Treaty.

Radek’s presentation also devotes attention to the recent Fascist victory in Italy and the threat posed by fascist movements elsewhere in Europe. Despite the surprisingly nonchalant attitude taken by Italian delegate Bordiga, most delegates who spoke on the issue of fascism recognized the gravity of the Italian Fascists’ victory, which Radek calls “the greatest defeat that socialism and communism have suffered since the beginning of this period of world-revolution.” (386)

The Comintern’s united front tactic, formulated in 1921, was intended as a means for the Communist Parties to gain greater influence within social struggles as well as spur reformist forces into action.

Although nearly all delegates paid lip service to the slogan of the united front, attempts at implementation met greater resistance. The notion of forging alliances with reformist forces who had demonstrated their treachery on numerous occasions provoked a visceral reaction from many.

Karl Becker of the German delegation replied to those who insisted only on a “united front from below”: “… After any major betrayal by the Social-Democratic leaders in some united-front action, tendencies are immediately evident among entirely good comrades who say that… these negotiations with the Social-Democratic leaders must be the last. . . In Germany, we have always replied to such mechanical conceptions by saying, if you can generate enough activity so that, two months from now, we no longer need to negotiate with the Social-Democratic leaders because they no longer have mass support, then we will not negotiate with them ever again. But, so long as the leaders have masses organized behind them, we will have to continue to negotiate.”

Efforts to build a united front within the trade unions were met with other challenges, as Communists were expelled en masse from many unions of the reformist-led Amsterdam International. While the Comintern continued to promote the Red International of Labor Unions as a rival to the Amsterdam International, it insisted that Communist trade unionists fight to remain within the already established mass unions, establishing Communist cells to gain influence within them rather than walking away and building small parallel structures with a more revolutionary orientation but little influence within the broader class struggle.

 Black and Colonial Liberation

Of particular interest are plenary discussions and subsequent resolutions on “The Eastern Question,” and “The Black Question,” the latter led by U.S. delegate Billings (Otto Huiswood) and Claude McKay, then a leader of the African Blood Brotherhood (which would soon merge with the US Communist Party).

Billings and McKay spoke of the resonance of the Comintern’s anti-imperialist line among Black radicals in the United States, in stark contrast to the backwardness of the Second International.

Says Billings, “The black question is another part of the racial and colonial question, and it has, until now, not received any special attention. I mean by that to say that the Second International did not devote any special attention to the black question. That is why we find in the Second Congress theses the remark that the Second International is an International of white workers and the Communist International is an International of the workers of the world.” (800)

Two days of discussion were devoted to “the Eastern Question,” which included contributions from delegates of Communist Parties from India, China, Japan, and Egypt, as well as a delegate from Tunisia, Tahar Boudengha, who took the French party to task for its failure to combat racist, chauvinistic attitudes among many French Communists in Tunisia and Algeria.

He reads from a statement by a Communist group in Sidi-Bel-Abbès, Algeria, taking exception to the Comintern’s insistence that all Communist parties “support every liberation movement in the colonies not only in words but in deeds” and “to demand that the imperialists of its country be driven out of these colonies” (701N):

“The native population of Algeria can only be liberated as the result of the revolution in France. . . They are fanatical and fatalistic, patient and resigned, oppressed and imbued with religious prejudices. At this time, they still cannot imagine their liberation. . . It is entirely unnecessary to publish calls to rebellion in our press or distribute Arabic-language leaflets, as many have recommended.”

Boudengha calls on the French party to expel the “gentlemen” who published the pamphlet, and warns that “the French comrades must take note. . . that the proletarian revolution in France is doomed to sure failure so long as the French bourgeoisie holds the colonial population under its rule.” (703)

Russian delegate Safarov joins Boudengha in denouncing the “so-called Communists” in Sidi-Bel-Abbès; a footnote by Riddell informs us that “In December 1922, most Sidi-Bel-Abbès CP members rejected the Fourth Congress decisions and left the Party.” (702N)

 Danger Signs

A great deal of the discussion at the Fourth Congress was devoted to organizational questions, in particular to interventions within the Communist Parties of France and Norway, both former sections of the Second International which brought much of that organization’s baggage with them into the Comintern.

While these discussions were comradely and on the whole conducted in a conciliatory spirit, a potential warning sign can be seen in the Comintern Executive Committee’s May 1922 decision, after multiple attempts to discuss the issue with French party representatives had met with evasion, to expel journalist Henri Fabre from the Comintern (and, by extension, from the French CP) over the head of the French party leadership.

In response to the failures of member parties to respond to major crises (e.g. the victory of Fascism in Italy), several delegates spoke on the need for increased centralization in the Communist International. In a resolution on reorganizing the Executive Committee, the Fourth Congress reaffirmed its commitment to a democratic centralism that endorsed a genuine commitment to both centralism and democracy.

This resolution in itself does not contain the seeds of the Comintern’s degeneration, widely recognized as having begun with the Fifth Congress in 1924. Nevertheless, it is hard to argue for the practicality of an international body as large as the Communist International operating effectively under the leadership of a strong centralized Executive Committee.

One can point to both the Comintern’s increasingly centralized structure and the overly deferential attitude taken toward the Russian party leadership as major flaws that contributed to its ultimate destruction as a revolutionary international organization.

Toward the United Front shows an international Communist movement that, having outgrown past “infantile disorders,” had yet to reach full maturity. It was nevertheless a serious organization; despite a number of errors and shortcomings, the discussions demonstrate great revolutionary potential on the part of most member parties.

Revolutionaries of the 21st century can look to the early years of the international Communist movement as an important moment in socialist history; by making these documents available to a new generation, John Riddell has done a noble service to the cause of revolutionary Marxism.



 

Notes

[1] A prolific historian and writer, Riddell produces a lively blog of commentary and discussion at johnriddell.wordpress.com — ed.

 

* From Against the Current n°170, May/June 2014: http://www.solidarity-us.org/site/n...

Kashmir and Indian democracy

Kashmir and Indian democracy

By Nagesh Rao

Virtually every news article about the Indian elections begins by reminding us that India is "the world's largest democracy," with 800 million eligible voters.

In other news, meanwhile, Kashmiris are boycotting the elections en masse.

What does it say about democracy when millions of people in a state think it's a fraud? All over India, people have turned out in impressive numbers: 75 percent here, 80 percent there. In Kashmir, however, news reports about the early phases of polling have pegged voter turnout at 28 percent. Isn't this low enough for Indians to ask what it is about these elections that is so unappealing to Kashmiris?

We all cherish the right to vote as a fundamental democratic right, and yet here we see a mass boycott of that very basic political right that we all hold dear. Why are Kashmiris so averse to voting in these elections? It isn't enough to say that they are being misled by their leaders. That's simply elitist--you're thinking of Kashmiris as dupes, as robots controlled by self-serving humans. If Kashmiris respond to boycott calls in such numbers it is because they do not see these elections as anything other than a "military exercise" (as a press release by Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society recently put it), a way to legitimise a military occupation of their land.Like the Zubin Mehta concert did in September last year, elections in Kashmir provide an occasion for a military occupation to be given a democratic veneer.

Most Indians are probably aware of the present troubles in Kashmir, and figure that whatever is happening there was caused by some disgruntled militants. You've heard on the news that an Indian Army major and a jawan were killed by militants. Yes, that did happen on April 26, during an "encounter" with "terrorists" in which Major Mukund Varadarajan of the Rashtriya Rifles and a jawan (news reports rarely name the jawans who die, just the officers). Whatever happened next and whatever actions the government takes in response are now justified in your mind by the news of this encounter.

And so you discount the campaign of police retaliation that has followed, the curfews and the beatings, the lathi charges and firings. You may not have heard that on April 30, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, a 24-year-old man who ran a tailoring shop, was shot dead when CRPF soldiers opened fire with live ammunition against a group of stone-throwing youth. Young Bashir wasn't throwing stones, his grieving father insists, challenging the CRPF to prove otherwise.

You may not have heard that Indian forces have carried out mass arrests in nocturnal raids to ensure "smooth conduct" of elections.  You may not have heard that on May 2, a prominent scholar of Islamic Studies, Dr. Ghulam Qadir Lone, was arrested for making "anti-election" statements. Hundreds of students at Kashmir University protested his arrest, but you probably didn't hear about this either. Nor would you have heard that in Bandipora in Baramulla constituency hundreds of youth were rounded up in night raids carried out by police and joined by the army. A news report describes the chilling effect of these raids on the people:

Fearing arrests, many youth in the town have gone underground. Some parents told Rising Kashmir that they have sent their wards to safer places. “Army and police are hunting innocent youth so it’s better to send them to some safer places till elections are over,” said Ali Mohammad.

Many youth have moved to Srinagar and other places to stay with their relatives and friends. The recent arrests made in South Kashmir and Srinagar ahead of polls have also made them apprehensive of arrests.

The Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) says that "around 2000 people have been arrested, mostly youth. Leaders like Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik, Shabir Ahmed Shah and scores of other political leaders and activists have been detained. Besides these political persons a very huge number of young people who are mostly students have been arrested, tortured and humiliated." In preparation for the last phase of the election, there's been a huge mobilization of army and police in Sopore, virtually outnumbering the local populace.What does it mean when you need to deploy 30,000 troops to ensure a "free" election? What does it say about the practice of "democracy"?

Marx once wrote that a nation that oppresses another nation forges its own chains. He was referring to the relationship between the English and the Irish. As long as the workers and the poor of England supported their government's domination of Ireland, they were only strengthening the classes that dominated them. The same logic applies in India today.

Here are some basic questions that every election-loving Indian democrat should ask: How does the forcible retention of Kashmir help in improving the lives of the hundreds of millions in India who lack basic needs like food, shelter, education, healthcare, a clean and safe environment, access to land and resources to lead productive lives? What does it cost to maintain a military occupation involving half-a-million troops in mountainous terrain, and how might those resources be put to better use? And it's not just about economics. What are the consequences of turning a blind eye to atrocities committed in one's name in far-off lands, and how long can one keep at bay the evil this breeds in society at large?

In February this year, a military court acquitted the army personnel involved in the infamous Pathribal fake encounter, in which five Kashmiris were killed and then passed off as "militants." More recently, in the village of Tsunduru in Andhra Pradesh, 56 upper-caste murderers of Dalits have been acquitted of their crimes by a High Court ruling. These things are related.

Today, many are worried that an authoritarian and intolerant bigot might become the next Prime Minister. But how did such authoritarianism become acceptable to so many people? When generations have grown up learning to dehumanize and look down upon those considered "below" them in caste, something happens to human empathy. It withers away. The same holds true with colonial and neo-colonial occupations. Kashmir has become that space in Indian public culture where the police and army can be given free play, where repression can be made palatable, where judicial complicity can be overlooked, and where human rights can be violated with impunity, all in the name of "national unity" and "integrity."

We may not see the emergence of a Nazi-style fascist dictatorship come May 16. But it would be useful to think about how a culture that has learned to accept atrocities committed abroad might become incapable of preventing atrocities at home.

The Caribbean poet and intellectual Aimé Césaire wrote eloquently that the acceptance of colonial conquests abroad "distilled a poison into the veins of Europe," so that they were unable to confront the monster of Nazism when it bared its teeth at home. It's a lengthy quotation, but well worth reading today if we substitute "Kashmir" for "Vietnam" and "Madagascar," and "India" for "France": 

First we must study how colonization works to decivilize the colonizer, to brutalize him in the true sense of the word, to degrade him, to awaken him to buried instincts, to covetousness, violence, race hatred, and moral relativism; and we must show that each time a head is cut off or an eye put out in Vietnam and in France they accept the fact, each time a little girl is raped and in France they accept the fact, each time a Madagascan is tortured and in France they accept the fact, civilization acquires another dead weight, a universal regression takes place, a gangrene sets in, a centre of infection begins to spread; and that at the end of all these treaties that have been violated, all these lies that have been propagated, all these punitive expeditions that have been tolerated, all these prisoners who have been tied up and “interrogated”, all these patriots who have been tortured, at the end of all the racial pride that has been encouraged, all the boastfulness that has been displayed, a poison has been distilled into the veins of Europe and, slowly but surely, the continent proceeds toward savagery.

And then one fine day the bourgeoisie is awakened by a terrific boomerang effect: the gestapos are busy, the prisons fill up, the torturers standing around the racks invent, refine, discuss.

People are surprised, they become indignant. They say: “How strange! But never mind – it’s Nazism, it will pass!” And they wait, and they hope; and they hide the truth from themselves, that it is barbarism, the supreme barbarism, the crowning barbarism that sums up the daily barbarisms; that it is Nazism, yes, but that before they were its victims, they were its accomplices; that they tolerated that Nazism before it was inflicted on them, that they absolved it, shut their eyes to it, legitimized it, because, until then, it had been applied only to non-European peoples; that they have cultivated that Nazism, that they are responsible for it, and that before engulfing the whole edifice of Western, Christian civilization in its reddened waters, it oozes, seeps and trickles from every crack.

It's not too late for Indians to speak out against the occupation of Kashmir, to call for an end to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, to call for a withdrawal of all occupying troops, to support the Kashmiris' right to self-determination (azaadi), to challenge the priorities of a system built upon inequality and privilege, and in the process to reclaim and reinvent democracy at home so that it works for all the people instead of a tiny wealthy upper-caste elite.

 

Subcategories