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The Russian Revolution: A Century of Historiography—Part I

(This is the first part of a multi-part historiography, mainly a translation of my Bangla essay. All parts will be translated and eventually uploaded)

Kunal Chattopadhyay

Though over a century has passed since the Russian Revolution of 1917, it remains the subject of intense political wars. So the historiographic debates over it are not mere academic disputes, but a significant aspect of a wide-ranging political battle. Bourgeois historians, political scientists, sociologists, journalists, even psychologists pitch in to explain why this revolution was an irrelevancy and why it was harmful. For the last three decades or close to them, they have been joined by once leftists, even once Marxist authors who have bowed profoundly to liberalism, or have discovered “better ideologies than Marxism”, as well as those who have discovered that after Marx they are the first true Marxists, or have measured exactly how many inches separate Lenin and Trotsky from the Gulag. Eric Hobsbawm, delivering his 1997 Deutscher Memorial lecture, claimed that the facts coming from the archives should be accounted for in order to junk half-truths and official lies, and move to improved understandings.[1] Yet if the archives were enough, then the writing of the history of 1917 should have taken a considerable left turn. The main problem is ideological. The collection and arrangement of data has taken a deep rightward turn. Hence the historiography needs to be checked against the ups and downs of global class struggle.

From the Revolution to Stalin’s Consolidation of Power:

The early writings did not pretend to academic neutrality. In the years of revolution and Civil War (1918-1921) there were few Russians who wrote, though I will mention the exceptions. The immediate accounts included several left wing US journalists and their books. Louise Bryant published her Six Months in Red Russia in October 1918.[2] Bessie Beatty wrote The Red Heart of Russia, saying that to fail to see hope in the Russian revolution was like a blind person watching the sunrise.[3]

The book that became famous was the third one.  An already well-known leftwing journalist, John Reed, was to become closely involved with the Bolsheviks while reporting on the revolution, and on his return to the USA, became active in organising a mmunist party in his own country. Reed’s Ten Days that Shook the World  impressed the Russian revolutionary leader Lenin, who wrote a short foreword, recommending the book to the workers of the world, in millions of copies.[4] But when governmental pressures began in the USSR on writing according to current reinterpretations, the book came under attacks. Reed had given virtually no space to Stalin in his eye-witness account, and had put Totsky alongside Lenin as a central leader of the revolution. So from the 1930s till Stalin’s death his book would not be reprinted inside the USSR, whatever Lenin recommended, and in the West, where Reed had given the copyright to the British Communist Party, the book was often published with positive references to Trotsky truncated.[5]

After the end of the Civil War, the defeated sides, licking their wounds, found time in their hands and wrote numerous accounts, claiming to be the voices of “democratic” Russia. Histories and memoirs were written by Pavel Miliukov, liberal historian and central leader of the main bourgeois liberal party, the Constitutional Democrats or Cadets; by the Whiteguard General Denikin; by the man who stood at the exact balancing point between the liberals and the socialists, the one time head of government Alexander Kerensky; and by various socialists including one who did not go into emigration, the left Menshevik Nikolai Sukhanov.[6] It is not that nobody on the revolutionary side wte. Already in early 1918, durig the rest-Litovsk Peace discussions, Lev Davidovich Trotsky wrote the first of his accounts, mainly from memory, in order to put before the workers outside Russia a picture of the Russian revolution.[7] Since however, I will discuss his major work later, there is no need to take up this one.

If we look at the principal differences of this period, we can highlight three dimensions. Mensheviks, Sociaist Revolutionaries, Liberals, all wanted to portray the February Revolution as a purely spontaneous revolution. Up to the morning (in some cases the afternoon) of 27th February, that is, during the period of unfolding general strike and military revolt, leaders of these parties had been silent, or even against the revolution. To look for leaders of the revolution, one would have to look at women workers, often Bolshevik women, then the Bolshevik Vyborg District Committee and the Inter-Borough Organisation [strictly the RSDRP—Internationalists, popularly called Mezhraionka] who merged in 1917 with the Bolsheviks. By calling the revolution spontaneous it became easier to claim that the afternoon of 27th February was the first moment of conscious action. This was when the Cadets initiated steps to form the Provisional Government and the socialists initiated the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet. In the stalin era the same approach was taken, because the actual leaders of the leftwing, Shlyapnikov or Kayurov among Bolsheviks, or Iurenev of the Mezhraiontsi, needed to be cut down and Great Stalin had to be built up (and Great Stalin was not even around during those days of insurrection).

The second issue raked up was the question of Bolshevik strategy and aims in the July Days (2-4 July by the Russian clandar, 16-17 July by the Western calendar) and the claim that Lenin had taken German gold in order to bring about Russian defeat in the war. The Juy Days saw a military led armed explosion in the capital. The Bolshevik leadership, despite opposing the aim of the soldiers, did not want to abandon them. But the anti-Bolsheviks claimed they had attempted an insurrection, withdrawing only at the last moment. Kerensky in particular went o claiming that Lenin had taken German gold. But the German empire collapsed in 1918. Despite the passage of a century, no documents have been produced to show that Lenin was a German agent, or that Ludendorff had funded him.

The third debate that emerged was over the nature of Bolshevism.Did they participate in the revolution to establish autocracy by overthrowing democracy? This would be a central debate reappearing in the hands of ostensible academic specialists during and after the Cold War.

The First Histories and Debates: 1924-1938

When the Civil War ended, revolutionaries started writing memoirs of revolution and the civil war. A Central Committee member of February 1917, Alexander Shlyapnikov was one of the principal leaders of the faction Workers’ Opposition in 1921-22. After defeat, he turned to writing his memoirs. Though respectful to Lenin, he was profoundly contemptuous towards the group that replaced his group in the leadership in March 1917, namely Lev Borisovich Kamenev and Joseph Stalin. His four volume memoirs were first published in 1923[8], and he wanted to show that in February the Bolsheviks were fully opposed to the Provisional Government and the imperialist war, but the return of the Kamenev-Stalin-Muranov trio led to a toning down of party policy. As a result, later Stalin forced him to recant. The first two volumes came out in English in 1982, but the narrative for 1917 even now remains available only in Russian.

Following Lenin’s death, open confrontation developed between bureaucracy and democracy in party and state.The Left Opposition wa formed aroud the demand for proletarian democracy. As art of its struggle, Trotsky’s Collected Wroks, volume 3 (dealing with 1917) included a long preface by him, titled Ooroki Oktyabriya or Lessons of October. In this he claimed that under the hammer blows of class struggle, a left-riht polarization had developed within the Bolshevik party leadership. The inertia of old, outmoded thinking had to be removed by class struggle from below. As flag bearers of this outmoded thinking he identified Kamenev, Zinoviev, Nogin etc. And moreover, he stressed that it was not the party ale that had led the revolution, harking back to soviet democracy when the party bureaucracy was consolidating power.

A huge debate broke out. In 1917, the current triumvirate of Stalin-Kamenev-Zinoviv had palyed nothing like the role played by Trotsky. So they began a slander campaign, combining partial truths and total lies about Trotsky’s pre-1917 role and ideas (his being a Menshevik in 1903, which they extended to all the way till 1917; his pamphlet criticizing Lenin in 1904; his role in the August Bloc; his alleged ignoring of peasants; falsehoods about his anti-war stance) as well as the first careful re-writing of what had happened in 1917. Apart from party leaders, party-member historians like Pokrovsky and Yaroslavsky weighed in. Two claims made were—that Stalin-Kamenev and Lenin had little difference in 1917, while Trotsky’s alleged anti-peasant line meant his line had no resemblance to Lenin’s 1917 line; and that he had played down the role of working class and had also refused to give adequate importance to the role of the party.[9]

From this time, the concept of official history begins to take shape. But the consolidation of power by Stalin resulted in repeated re-designing of the party line history. In 194 Trotsky had targeted Zinoviev and Kamenev. But in 1925, under pressure from proletarian Leningrad, Zinoviev turned against Stalinism. So now Stalin needed to show him as a vacillator. In 1929 Bukharin fell out of power, and history had to be written again. At last, in the mid-1930s, with Stalin established as God under Lenin, it was necessary to write an account showing most old leaders as traitors and counter-revolutionaries. The new history of Lenin, guided and aided by Stalin, fighting all the traitors, was to take final shape in the History of the CPSU(b) – Short Course. One chapter of the book was actually written by Stalin, with all the rest bearing his imprint. Along with the infallible party, a few new elements were added. First was the personal infallibility of the Great Leaders – Lenin, and then Stalin. Second cme a narrative of a linear evolution of Bolshevism from What Is To Be Done? (1902), the 2nd Party Congress (1903) to 1917, and a myth of a complete identity between party and class leadership. Third was the story of Stalin as Lenin’s main ally. Though after 1953, and especially after the 20th CPSU Congress and Khruschchev’s Secret Speech, some of the worst lies were removed, this book remained the fountainhead of Stalinist lies and myths about the Russian revolution all the way to the present. I. I. Mints, who wrote the most well known official history in the USSSR in the 1960s[10], was to dip deeply into the Short Course for his basic structure. This three volume work of over three thousand pages remains the most detailed narrative of the Stalinist foundational myth. Lenin is infallible. Russian history must be freed from foreign distortions (from the Stalin era, Great Russian nationalism would become another component of the historiography). After Lenin the key role was played by Stalin. Kamenev constantly made mistakes. Trotsky, depite voting for insurrection, actually did not want an insurrection. Indeed, Trotsky’s role in October was a fable made up by Western historians. The continuity of class struggle and class consciousness came from the continuity of ideas of Lenin and the “leading cadres”, not from actual class struggle. The anarchy of events was turned into discipline by the party and its “active cadres”.

A few years before the History of the CPSU(b) – Short Course, two books  very different from it it in content and tone came out. William Henry Chamberlin was a journalist by profession who had access to much documentation from the Soviet archives before they were put out of the reach of scholars. So he was able to write a two volume book, The Russian Revolution 1917-1921, providing to readers a comprehensive narrative of the revolution and the civil war that even today is worth reading.[11] Sheila Fitzpatrrick, noted Soviet/Russian history scholar, calls it the book with the best overall description of the revolution and the civil war. Chamberlin’s major achievement was to incorporate the civil war in his account of the revolution. This underscored the reality that the victory of the Red Army was part of the class struggle, not merely the victory of superior military forces or superior strategies. The civil war brought about political crises, because not only the bourgeoisie, but also the reformist/moderate socialist parties and at times parts of the peasantry took up arms against the Soviet state. So working class democracy was constantly being squeezed. But western historians habe all too often remained silent about the role of the civil war in throttling workers’ democracy. There are also some “Marxists” who piece together quotations from Marx, but who ignore the ferocity of the civil war and the role of the Whiteguard forces, and instead jump at Lenin, Trotsky, Sverdlov and others, claiming that they ceased to be good Marxists because they built a standing army, they fought a ferocious war,  they took away the democratic rights of opponents, etc. It is to be admitted that Lenin , Trotsky and their comrades made important mistakes. One example is the building of the Cheka as an institution. But it is necessary to ask questions about the class standpoint of any historian who wants to know why those who began the civil war, who used barbaric violence to smash working class rule, were not allowed to proceed peacefully? This was why Chamberlin’s book was so important. Long before the systematic distortions introduced in the name of academic objectivity during the Cold War, he had highlighted, why he civil war, and why too the Red victory?

Though written in Russian in 1930, Leon Trotsky’s The History of the Russian Revolution was published first in English and other West European languages, and only much later in Russian.[12] Side by side with Stalin’s assault on working class power there was a massive stream of lies. To respond to lies, about Marxist theory, about Trotsky’s personal role, about the history of the Bolshevik party, etc, Trotsky published three books and a number of essays. Based on documents, he published The Stalin School of Falsification.[13] This revealed the real role of the Stalin-Kamenev-Muranov leadership in March-April 1917. A lot about his own role, and about Kerensky’s lies concerning Lenin and German gold, were examined in his autobiography.[14] But it was in The History that he wrote a ful-length account of the revolution. This was a book on  broad canvas. He looked at the evolution of Russian society and economy, Russia’s entry into World War I, the intensification of exploitation on workers and peasants due to the war, and then moved to a consideration of the Czar and the Czarina. The palace conspiracy revealed how deeply divided the old ruing class was, how unable to continue to go on ruling in the old way. As a historian, he did not display any casualness, and certainly did not feel that the inevitability of the revolution made it unnecessary to look into details. The five days of popular explosion and the fall of Tsarism, the evolution of the agitation into a general strike and uprising, were traced in such a way that out of the events he could proceed to generalizations, and let his readers know his opinions about certain debated issues. Was the February Revolution spontaneous? This raised the question – what did spontaneity mean? Actually it simply meant that the leaders were less famous, many of whom were lost later on – though we do get firmly the names of the Vyborg District Committee of the Bolsheviks, and of the Mezhraiontsi. But the revolution was carried out by the working class ad by peasants wearing the uniforms of soldiers. In that case, in what sese was the revolution a bourgeois democratic revolution?

Outside the USSR, and beyond the official communist writers, Trotsky’s History was the result of a massive research that would play a central role in course of the next three quarters of a century for a third position historiography outside Stalinism and anti-communist rightwing writings. The new progressive writings from the 1970s, once placed next to his book, appear to be no longer so novel. There was one major gap in his research. This was the role of women workers in the Russian revolution, the conflicts between bourgeois feminism and the Bolshevichki, the persistence of male domination among the Bolshevik men and the sustained struggles of the women Bolsheviks to overcome that. It is difficult to accept that Trotsky did not know anything about this, since at other times he wrote sharply about the subject. So we need to assume that he had limitations in his theoretical framework, did not recognize that class is divided by gender, and to present a full picture of the class struggle the struggles of the women workers required separate elaboration. Of course, till the rise of Second wave feminism in the 1960s nobody was to write such accounts. But that the tallest leader of the October insurrection also did not reveals an important weakness.

On the other hand, Trotsky brings out the dialectical relationship between class and party in an excellent way in the History. He shows why the role of a revolutionary party is so important, but at the same time he shows that if a revolutionary party substitutes itself for the working class no proletarian revolution in the classical form is possible.

 

Rightwing Historiography of the Cold War Era: 1949-1991

From the beginning of the Cold War, Russian/Soviet Studies and the study of Marxism were undertaken as political tasks in the West. As the leader of the Cold War this task was most widely taken up by the USA. In many Universities in that country Soviet Studies centres were opened, Professor posts created, and a University centric “Marxology” emerged. The academics hired for these purposes were mostly expected to launch aggressive ideological offensives. So propaganda often overlay any adherence to truth. But it is also necessary to understand why even such rightwing propaganda was often so successful. The Stalinist claims, that there was a broad socialist democracy in the USSR, that only genuine criminals were sent to the camps; that the Bolsheviks, or at least those certified by Stalin, were saints, that the party never made mistakes, were patently false. By contrast the Western Cold War distortions, despite the bad framework, could at least be seen to be often backed by some archival data. So liberals, non-Stalinist leftists, various kinds of people accepted its claims. The Cold War in fact made possible a meeting of minds between liberals and conservatives concerning Soviet Studies. To them also came ex-communists who had left or had been expelled. Hundreds of books and essays were written. Just to list them would create a thick pamphlet. I intend to look at the main currents and discuss a few significant authors and books. The first person to be highlighted should be Bertram David Wolff. A left wing socialist along with John Reed and Louis Fraina, a member of the CPUSA, the first editor of the party paper, a leader of the Lovestone faction and considered a “Bukharinist”, a defender of the First and Second frame-up trials by Stalin (the Zinoviev-Kamenev and the Radek-Pyatakov trials), Wolff turned against Stalin during the Third Trial (Bukharin-Rykov). Duing World War II and afterwards, he became a rabid rightwinger. Thereafter he was an adviser to the US State Department, and was connected to the Universities of Stanford and Columbia. His theory about the USSR would be later termed the “continuity thesis” by Stephen Cohen.[15] The essence of this thesis is the position that in 1902, Lenin’s book What Is To Be Done? Created a programme for a bureaucratically centrlised party, which was to impose the dictatorship of a vanguard elite. According to Wolff, from 1903 Lenin began his control over the autonomous party machine. And from then to Stalin’s death in 1953, Bolshevism had only two really authoritative leaders – Lenin and Stalin.[16] This was soon to become a well worn path. Alfred Meyer asserted that Stalinism emerged as ideology and tactics from Leninism.[17] Robert Daniels, despite tracing the many faces of opposition currents within Soviet communism, including the struggles for democracy, also insisted that the Trotskyists differed from Stalin and Lenin’s closer adherents, and that in two decisive ways Leninism gave birth to Stalinism.[18]

A major work of the continuity thesis was Leonard Schapiro’s The Origins of the Communist Autocracy.[19] Schapiro denied flatly that the Bolsheviks had ever any democratic credentials. His aim was to show that they were a determined minority who kept more democratic forces out of power. In his book, he cited quite a bit of evidence about how the Bolsheviks had used force against opponents between 1917 and 1922. However, in Schapiro’s narrative, only the Bolsheviks wear hooves and horns. The civil war, the White Terror, the fact that moderate socialists chose to join hands with the Whites, all disappear or become marginal.

Another very significant author is Richard Pipes. Professor Pipes has written 22 books on Russia history and the USSR, so a full scale assessment of his work is beyond the scope of this essay. However some points need to be covered. Pipes was an all out soldier of the Cold War. In the 197s he condemned the détente, and when Reagan was the US President, he served in the National Security Committee. In 1990 Pipes wrote a thick book on the Russian Revolution. In 1993 came his book on the first phase of Bolshevik rule. In 1996 he published a book on the ‘unknown Lenin’.[20]

According to Pipes, Tsarist Russia was different from semi-feudal Germany, Austria-Hungary etc because the Tsars treated the state was a patrimonial property. Apparently, this was why the Russian revolution was so all out while the rest were not. Pipes had the great ability to totally ignore views different from his own. So he has nothing to say about Arno Meyer’s presentation of a picture of the Europe of the old order in a crisis.[21]  In the second and third parts of his book on the revolution he looks at the period from the February Revoution to the October Revolution, and from October to the first months of Bolshevik rule. Pipes does not believe in social history. The vast numbers of studies that have emerged from the 1970s, looking at history from below, struggles of workers, peasants, nationalities, soldiers, as well as histories of various parties, ideologies, role of women – all these leave him cold. In his narrative of the civil war he spends seven chapters, of which one entire chapter is on the killing of the Tsar and his family. But Whiteguard brutality finds no space in his descriptions.

Evey historian has her own viewpoint, and having that is no crime. But if she distorts facts to serve the viewpoint, then she is carrying out a crime against the craft of the historian. Russia under the Bolshevik Regime does precisely that. Here Pipes claims that thre was no such thing as ‘imperialist intervention’.[22]All he does show is, not all the imperialist powers could unite, and Llyod George had thought that accommodation with the Bolsheviks was possible. So the view of One Western leader is cited to ‘prove’ that there was no imperialist intervention. That imperialism had set troops, and had assisted local counter-revolution militariy and financially, appears to be no proof.[23]

On the Bolshevik victory in the civil war, Pipes is laughable. It is well-known that Trotsky was the main strategist on the Bolshevik side.[24] Ignoring most researchers Pipes cites only Dmitri Volkogonov to assert that Trotsky was weak as a military strategist.[25]One fails to realize why the Reds were able to smash their opponents in that case.

In the chapter on Red Imperialism he rejects Lenin’s principle of the right of nations to self-determination as a fakery. Ignoring Lenin’s support for Finnish independence, he claims it was the Germans who encouraged the Finns.[26] His abiding hatred of communists leads Pipes to repeated distortions. He claims that while Red Terror was systematic, White Terror was not.[27] In fact, the White Terror in Finland killed some 20,000 workers, basically along class lines. A further 70,000 workers were imprisoned. At that date the Red Terror had not started in Russia. Clearly, even death has class distinctions, so the Tsar’s family gets a full chapter for its fate, while the 20,000 workers of Finland do not rate further references.[28]

At the end of the civil war, many Mensheviks migrated. Many, including Fedor Dan and Raphael Abramovich, wrote books. Not all of the books will be discussed. In the 1930s, as Hitler’s rise to power warned many, from several European countries socialists stated removing documents. Many migrated to Britain or the USA. Many Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries shifted to the USA, and their papers were often deposited in Harvard, Stanford and Columbia or other Universities. Two projects came out of these. In 1961, Robert Paul Browder and Alexander Kerensky edited a three volume compilation of over 1400 documents.[29]And a vast plan was made to create an inter-university Menshevik history project. Charge fell on the then young Professor Leopold Haimson. Alan Wildman, Solomon Schwarz, Haimson himself, all contributed. [30] Abramovich and Lydia Dan, who wanted that the emgre Mensheviks be given the central role in writing the history of the Russian revolution, itended the series to highlight that the Bolsheviks were not democratic as socialists. While that was done, these accounts were not so aggressively focused like Schapiro or Pipes.

The Browder and Kerensky compilation is worth discussing a little further. From the USSR, 6 volumes of material had been already published, but in Russian. Browder and Kerensky provided English translations, making the material accessible to a lot of readers. And regardless of their aims, the documents hey put together, of non-bolshevik forces, especially of the Provisional Government as well as right and centrist parties, help in seeing why there was no viable democratic alternative to the Bolsheviks in 1917.



[1]Eric Hobsbawm, ‘Can we write the History of the Russian Revolution?’, in Eric Hobsbawm, On History, The New Press, New York, 1997, p. 242.

[2]Louise Bryant, Six Months in Red Russia, The Journeyman Press, London, 1982 (reprint).

[3]Bessie Beatty, The Red Heart of Russia, The Century Co., New York, 1918, pp. 479-480.

[5] George Orwell, ‘The Freedom of the Press, Orwell’s Proposed Preface to Animal Farm’, online: orwell.ru/library

[6] P. Miliukov, Political Memoirs, 1905-1917 (Edited by A.P. Mendel, translated by C. Goldberg), University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1967;  Anton Ivanovich Denikin, The Russian Turmoil – Memoirs: Military, Social and Political, Hutchinson and Company, London, 1922; Alexander Kerensky, The Catastrophe: Kerensky’s Own Story of the Russian Revolution, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1927; and N. N. Sukhanov, The Russian Revolution 1917: A Personal Record (edited and condensed in translation by Joel Carmichael), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1955.

[7] Leon Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution to Brest Litovsk, George Allen and Unwin, London, 1919.

[8] Alexander Shlyapnikov, On the Eve of 1917, Alison and Busby, London and New York, 1982; and A. G. Shliapnikov, Semnadsatyi god, http://revarchiv.narod.ru/shliapnikov/oeuvre/1917.html

[9] Frederick C. Corney, Trotsky’s Challenge, Haymarket Books, Chicago 2017 bings together many of the essays in this debate.

[10] I. I. Mints, Istoriia Velikogo Oktyabrya, volumes 1-3, Moscow, Izdatel'stvo Nauka, 1967-1972.

[11] W. H. Chamberlin, The Russian Revolution, 1917-1921, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1987.

[12] L. Trotsky, The History of the Russian Revolution,  Aakar Books, New Delhi , 2014, with a new introduction by Kunal Chattopdhyay and Soma Marik.

[13] L. Trotsky, The Stalin School of Falsification, Pathfinder Press, New York, 1979.

[14] L. Trotsky, My Life: An Attempt at an Autobiography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1930.

[15] Bertram D. Wolfe, An Ideology in Power: Reflections on the Russian Revolution, Stein and Day, New York, 1970; Bertram D. Wolfe, Three Who Made a Revolution, Dial Press, Washington, 1948. Stephen F. Cohen, ‘Bolshevism and Stalinism’, in Robert C. Tucker (Editor), Stalinism: Essays in Historical Interpretation, revised edition, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick and London, 1999.

[16] Bertram D. Wolfe, An Ideology in Power: Reflections on the Russian Revolution,pp 187, 188.

[17] Alfred G. Meyer, Leninism, Frederick A Praegar, New York, 1962, p. 282.

[18] Robert Vincent Daniels, The Conscience of the Revolution: Communist Opposition in Soviet Russia, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1969, p. 410.

[19] Leonard Schapiro, The Origins of the Communist Autocracy, G. Bell and Sons, London, 1955

[20] Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution, Vintage Books, London and New York, 1990;Richard Pipes,Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime 1919-1924, Harvill, London, 1994; Richard Pipes, (Ed), The Unknown Lenin: From the Secret Archives, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1996.

[21] Arno Meyer, The Persistence of the Old Regime: Europe to the Great War, Verso, London 2010 (originally published 1981).

[22] Richard Pipes,Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime 1919-1924, p. 63

[23] See Major General C. B. Dunsterville, The Adventures of Dunsterforce, Edward Arnold, London, 1920, for a contemporary admission of what the British army had done.

 

[24] For the civil war and Bolshevik strategists see Mark von Hagen, Soldiers in the Proletarian Dictatorship: The Red Army and the Soviet Socialist State, 1917-1930, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 1990; Evan Mawdsley, The Russian Civil War, Allen and Unwin, Boston, 1987; W. Bruce Lincoln,  Red Victory: A History of the Russian Civil War, Touchstone, New York, 1989; John Ericson, The Soviet High Command 1918-1941, St Marin’s Press, London, 1962; Peter Kenez, Civil War in South Russia, 1919-1920, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1977.

[25] Richard Pipes,Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime 1919-1924, p. 56.

[26] Ibid., pp. 146, 151

[27] Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution,p. 792

[28] Victor Serge, Year One of the Russian Revolution, www.marxistorg/archive/serge/1930/year-one

[29] R.P. Browder and A. F. Kerensky (Eds), The Russian Provisional Government , 1917: Documents, 3 volumes, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1961.

[30] Allan K. Wildman,  The Making of a Workers’ Revolution: Russian Social Democracy, 1891-1903, Chicago University Press, Chicago, 1967;  Solomon Schwarz, The Russian Revolution of 1905, The Workers Movement and the Formation of Bolshevism and Menshevism, Chicago University Press, Chicago, 1967;  Leo Haimson (Ed), The Mensheviks from the Revolution of 1917 to the Second World War, Chicago University Press, Chicago, 1974.

Hong Kong’s protest movement must stop ignoring migrant workers

 

Friday 13 September 2019, by Promise Li

On 5 August, over 350,000 workers took part in Hong Kong’s first general strike in generations. Flights were cancelled en masse and the city’s transportation system was thrown into chaos. The strike was the culmination of weeks of protests against proposed amendments to Hong Kong’s extradition laws, which would grant the chief executive unprecedented power to dictate extradition decisions and bypass the legislative council. It was an impressive display of solidarity between workers and students, and an important step forward in the city’s recent string of mass mobilisations. However, unusually for a general strike, there were no explicit demands around labour conditions. The drive for autonomy from China has mobilised millions of people on the street but, as the strike revealed, there are avenues for solidarity which the movement is overlooking.

Migrant domestic workers from Southeast Asia occupy a unique, but rather neglected, position in the city’s current struggle. Almost 400,000 migrant workers (more than the size of the general strike), mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia, work for extremely low wages in Hong Kong. Most come to the city to seek better jobs, but almost 80% are in debt and beholden to the exploitative practices of recruitment agencies. According to a recent report, migrant workers contribute more than $12 million to Hong Kong’s economy. [1]

Many of these workers are supportive of the protests, and migrant unions, some of which are affiliated with the pro-democracy Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), have strongly encouraged their members to get out on the streets. [2] But various pressures limit their participation and protest demands have not directly addressed their material concerns. Some are compelled not to participate in fear of their work visas being revoked; the Philippines consulate has sent out notices discouraging migrant workers from participating in the protests. [3] Clarisse*, a Filipino migrant worker, says that many employers disapprove of their participation in the protests, and some have even prevented them from taking their legally mandated rest day. In addition, she points out that the areas where migrants usually congregate have become key sites for clashes between the police and the protestors.

One message threatened to attack Nepalis, Indians, and Pakistanis if they participate in the protests.

Fake government notices, and even death threats, have been anonymously circulating in migrant workers’ social media platforms like WeChat and Whatsapp, according to Fish Ip, the regional coordinator for International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF). One message specifically threatened to attack Nepalis, Indians, and Pakistanis if they participate in the protests, many of whom are not even domestic workers, showing how different racial minorities in Hong Kong are conflated and targeted. Reports of the Hong Kong police harassing and arresting a Filipino dancer on the eve of the general strike further exacerbated these fears. [4] Other threats were framed as retaliatory stemming from rumours that some ethnic minorities were involved in the attacks on protestors in Yuen Long. [5] Hope*, a Filipino who has worked in Hong Kong since 1996, fears that the extradition bill would open the way for policies that would further affect both migrants and locals alike. Above all, she worries that the right to unionise and freedom of assembly would be jeopardised. Hope was told by the Philippines consulate that the demonstrations are not a concern for domestic workers. But Clarisse rejects this stance, “We are living and working in Hong Kong, this is our second home and whatever happens we will be affected.”

There is widespread indifference to the plight of migrant workers in Hong Kong, their voices have largely been ignored by both the pro-Democracy movement and the government. In spite of this, interviews with migrant workers demonstrate the complex ways in which migrants do see Hong Kong as a home away from home. [6] And a recent report shows that migrant domestic workers enable more East Asian women (especially mothers) to participate in the workforce. In other words, migrants, despite their limited participation, already play a central role in the demonstrations: their work enables more families to be involved.

“Hong Kong’s woes are deeply tied to a globalised economy of exploitation, and the structural effects of colonisation in new forms.”

While the protests have afforded an opportunity for the general populace to renegotiate their understanding of the city’s structural issues, migrant workers rights have remained a blindspot. For example, the increasing distrust of policing is a new and critical step toward radicalisation. But the silence towards migrant workers’ conditions reveals a persistent weakness in the protestors’ demands: the inability to recognise that Hong Kong’s woes are deeply tied to a globalised economy of exploitation, and the structural effects of colonisation in new forms.

Sring Atin, a domestic worker and member of the Indonesian Migrant Workers Alliance (IMWA) who is generally supportive of the protests, says that the movement’s demands do not concretely address migrants’ issues. The fight against the new extradition policies, which she sees as the prime focus of the mobilisations, must “bring in workers’ demands to ensure quality and decent working conditions for the most marginalised communities.”

The myopia around this issue reveals the exclusionary, xenophobic sentiments that are often constitutive of localist ideologies. A sense of ethnonationalism tied to ‘Hong Kong identity’ has been inseparable from many localist groups such as Hong Kong Indigenous, who promote blatantly uncritical xenophobia against the Mainland Chinese as a whole. This exclusionary sentiment manifests more subtly and variously when it comes to migrant workers, whose issues are seen as auxiliary to Hong Kong’s struggles.

Class and race: the movement’s blind spots?

Hong Kong is wedged between a geopolitical struggle between China and the US. Wilfred Chan asks in Dissent what it would mean for the city to “reimagine an anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian politics of survival from the perspective of this in-between place?” [7] The answer lies in the city’s working-class movements and will require imagining new coalitions. The potential for a transnational anti-capitalist politics is already here, in a city where migrants and locals rub shoulders on every other block contesting Hong Kong’s identity as a global financial hub.

However, ethnic divisions in the protest movement prevent a deeper understanding of the colonial heritage of the city’s labour economy and institutional structures. It is Southeast Asian women domestic laborers who bear many of the effects of Hong Kong’s incomplete process of decolonisation. The city has a long history of gender-specific exploitative labour practices: for example, during the colonial period, affluent families often relied on mui tsais, unpaid or underpaid Chinese female domestic labourers. [8]

Today, diasporic Southeast Asian women, pushed out of their countries because of factors like gender and economic inequality in their home countries, continue to do essential care work. Migration scholar Rhacel Parreñas describes this as the “international division of reproductive labour”. She writes in her book Servants of Globalization:

In both sending and receiving countries, most women have not achieved a gender-egalitarian division of household work; instead, they have used their race and/or class privilege to transfer their reproductive labor with responsibilities to less privileged women.

Despite the fact that migrants and transnational networks have shaped the city’s cultural identity, an uncritical and exclusionary idea of belonging continues to reinforce racial divides. A radical movement that truly can challenge the city’s deep injustices must go beyond demands for universal suffrage, and build links between different marginalised groups.

“To highlight migrant workers’ demands would not be a distraction from Chinese authoritarianism.”

To highlight migrant workers’ demands would not be a distraction from Chinese authoritarianism. On the contrary, it forces us to look at labour in all its complex dynamics – both within and beyond post-colonial Hong Kong. Why are wages so low for Southeast Asian women workers in Hong Kong, and even lower in their home countries? How are the governments of Hong Kong and China complicit or actively facilitating this network of oppression? How accessible are the protests to marginalised identities? These are the questions that the protestors must reckon with if they want liberation and democracy for all of Hong Kong.

Migrant unions and organisations have played an important in foregrounding these issues. But while they have had victories throughout the years, they have not been able to mobilise a mass movement in solidarity against neoliberal globalisation. Their demands to make the current protests more inclusive poses a challenge to the movement. As a recent petition by self-organised housewives in support of the protests suggests, domestic care labour is not only legitimate work, but the kind that establishes the conditions for widespread struggle.

Who is included in the “自己” (myself) of the protestors’ chant: “自己香港自己救” (We alone will save our own Hong Kong)? What happens to our activism and analysis when some of the “自己” include diasporic identities that are as local as they are transnational? These questions are not merely academic and speculative: they determine the concrete limits of Hong Kong’s struggle for liberation.

Combatting all kinds of oppression in Hong Kong under Chinese authoritarian capitalism must entail unpacking Han chauvinism, Hong Kong ethnonationalism, and other exclusionary ideologies. And to combat China’s colonial ambitions, we must look inward: freedom lies not only in the vanguard in the black masks, but also in the many who are absent from the front lines. We need to rethink who is included in the local, and how the local is tied to the transnational. For Hong Kong, a critical link to the global, grassroots fight against capital, are its migrant workers.

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

Source Open Democracy.

P.S.

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Footnotes

[1] Time, 6 March 2019 “Here’s How Much Migrant Domestic Workers Contribute to Hong Kong’s Economy”.

[2] The Diplomat, 5 July 2019 “Why Are Migrant Workers Joining the Hong Kong Protests?”.

[3] Rappler, 15 August 2019 “PH Consulate in Hong Kong reminds Filipinos to avoid protest venues”.

[4] South China Morning Post, 4 August 2019 “Filipino and South Korean working in Hong Kong arrested in Mong Kok – the first foreigners detained in extradition protests”.

[5] South China Morning Post, 30 July 2019 “Ethnic minority groups in Hong Kong harassed and discriminated against amid online rumours pinning blame for Yuen Long attack on them”.]

Widespread indifference to migrants

Hong Kong is still considered a better place to work and organise than other major hubs for migrant workers like Dubai, despite lacking many basic employment rights.[[South China Morning Post, 30 July 2015 “Helping Hands: The Two-Week Rule”.

[6] Nicole Constable, Maid to Order in Hong Kong: Stories of Migrant Workers, Second Edition, Cornell: Cornell University Press, 2007.

[7] Dissent, 8 August 2019 “Hong Kong’s Fight for Life ”.

[8] South China Morning Post, 17 October 1999 “Childhood lost to a tradition of slavery”.

 

From International Viewpoint

Feminism: Of 1 Percent or of 99 percent? -- Intervierw with Nancy Fraser

“The Feminism of the 1 Percent Has Associated Our Cause With Elitism”

An interview with Nancy Fraser

Monday 9 September 2019, by Nancy Fraser

Recent years have seen an upsurge in the working-class women’s movement, from impressive protests against domestic violence and workplace harassment to the mass strikes marking International Women’s Day in Spain, Poland, and beyond. These actions point the way to an anti-systemic feminism, going beyond the liberal, individualist variant promoted by the likes of Hillary Clinton.

One of the expressions of this new wave is the popular manifesto Feminism for the 99% (Verso Books, 2019). It insists that feminism does not stand as an alternative to class struggle, but rather represents a decisive front in the fight for a world free of capitalism and all forms of oppression.

Nancy Fraser is co-author of the manifesto together with Cinzia Arruzza and Tithi Bhattacharya. She spoke to Rebeca Martínez of Viento Sur about the book, her critique of so-called “progressive neoliberalism,” and her understanding of a feminism that puts the voices of working-class and racialized women front and center.

RM: What exactly is Feminism for the 99% — and why launch such a manifesto now?

NF: The manifesto is a short piece of writing that’s intended to be popular and accessible rather than academic. I’ve written it together with the Italian feminist Cinzia Arruzza, who lives in New York, and Tithi Bhattacharya, an Indian-British woman who teaches in the United States.

This is the first time since I was a ‘68er — an activist in the 1960s and 1970s — that I have written a piece of real agitational political writing. I am, after all, mainly a philosophy professor. But the times now are so severe, the crisis of politics so acute, that I really felt that I had to jump in and try and reach a broader audience. So, the manifesto attempts to articulate a new path for the feminist movement, which has been dominated for the last couple of decades by a liberal-corporate wing of feminism, as personified in the United States by Hillary Clinton.

That was the feminism of the professional-managerial class, of relatively privileged women — middle- or upper-middle-class women who are highly educated and mostly white — who are trying to get ahead in the worlds of business or the military or the media. Their project was to climb the corporate hierarchy, to be treated in the same way as the men of their own class, with the same pay and prestige.

This wasn’t a genuinely egalitarian feminism — it wasn’t a feminism with much to offer for the vast majority of women who are poor and working class, who don’t have those privileges, who are migrants, who are women of color, who are trans or non-cis women. And this feminism of the 1 percent or maybe, at best, the 10 percent, has really tarnished the name of feminism. It has associated our cause with elitism, with individualism, with corporate life. It’s given feminism a bad name, associating us with neoliberalism, with financialization, with globalization, with anti–working-class politics.

The three of us thought this was a good moment to jump in and try and create a short, accessible statement of a vision and of a project of a feminism that takes the situation of poor and working-class women as its starting point, and asks what we really need to do to improve women’s lives. Of course, the three of us aren’t alone, in this — there are other left-wing feminists who’ve been trying to develop an alternative.

This is, indeed, emerging in the huge marches and demonstrations around March 8 [International Women’s Day]: these protests have an anti-systemic character, for they protest austerity and the assault on social production. The movement to meet women’s needs can’t be focused only on women’s issues as traditionally defined, like abortion rights — though those are very important. It also has to think more broadly about the larger crisis of society and articulate policies and programs for the benefit of everyone. That’s why we call it a feminism for the 99 percent. That doesn’t just mean 99 percent of women but 99 percent of human beings on the planet.

RM: You mentioned March 8 and the feminist strikes that have been organized since 2017 in many countries, including here in Spain. Indeed, even beyond that, in Spain in recent years most labor protests have been waged by women, for instance domestic workers and nursing-home workers. So, are we facing a new wave within feminism? And to what phase of neoliberal capitalism does it respond?

NF: I do think it’s a new wave, or at least has the potential to become one, if it can make a split with this liberal corporate feminism. And I think it shows lots of signs of doing that.

Neoliberalism has engaged a fierce assault on what we call the sphere of social reproduction. That means all the activities and programs that support people and their reproduction: from birthing and raising children, elder care and the work that goes on inside the private household to things like public education, health care, transportation, retirement income, and housing. Neoliberalism has squeezed all of that. It says that women need to be working full-time in the paid workforce and at the same time that states need to cut spending on social programs as part of austerity and financialization.

So here we have both the withdrawal of public support in these areas, and the insistence that women put their time into producing profits for capital. That means a real crisis of care and of social reproduction. This sphere is where — as you said — the most militant strikes and fightbacks are.

In the crisis of the 1930s, the center of militant revolt was industrial labor — the forming of unions, the struggle for labor rights, and so on. Today the situation is different, partly because of deindustrialization and the relocation of manufacturing to the Global South. Now social reproduction is at the center.

You mentioned some important strikes led by women; I’d add that in the United States we have had a major wave of teachers’ strikes. It’s extraordinary: teachers are paid so little that many of them have to take second jobs working at Walmart in the evening in order to have enough to live on for themselves and their families. But these teachers’ strikes were not only for higher wages — they were also for increased funding for education, to make the schools better. So, they’ve gotten a tremendous amount of support.

That’s an example of the sphere of social reproduction as a major site of struggle. And I understand that the huge March 8 marches and strikes in Spain were also protests against the cutting of social spending in all of these areas. Today struggles over social reproduction are at the cutting edge of left-wing, anti-systemic, anticapitalist struggle, and women are at the forefront. This fact needs to be at the center of a new way of thinking about what feminist politics is.

RM:How would you say this struggle over social reproduction interacts with class struggle and with antiracist and LGBTQ movements?

NF: First of all, I think we need to rethink what we mean by class struggle. Again, our image of the class struggle is still rooted in the 1930s — the white, male industrial worker with a union. But I would say that these struggles over social reproduction are also class struggles. For you can’t have production and industrial work if you don’t have somebody doing the work of producing and replenishing the workers and caring for the next generation that will replace them. Social reproduction is essential to capitalist production.

The work that produces those people and forms of sociality is every bit as much work as the work that goes on in factories. What makes class is not just the relationship of work in the factory but also the relations of social reproduction that produce the workers. So, this is all part of class struggle.

Our idea of class struggle in the past was too narrow. I don’t think that feminism for the 99 percent is an alternative to class struggle. It’s another front in the class struggle, so it should be allied with more familiar labor movements as well as the other things you mentioned — antiracist struggles, the struggle for migrant rights, and the struggle for LGBTQ rights.

This also matters because of the new class and racial division among women. The educated, upper-middle-class women that beat discrimination and rise to the top in corporations are working sixty hours a week in very demanding jobs. They’re hiring women of color, often migrant women, to pick up the slack of care work, childcare, cleaning their houses, cooking for their children, caring in nursing homes for their parents, and so on. These liberal-feminist women are thus leaning on the labor of racialized women. These latter are vulnerable: they don’t have labor rights, they are paid very little, and they are vulnerable to assault and abuse.

All of this class-race dimension within feminism needs to be put front and center. Feminism for the 99 percent has to be an antiracist movement. It has to take the situation of poor, working-class, and racialized women — the majority of women — and put their needs at the front, not the needs of corporate-climbers who want to crack the glass ceiling.

Similarly, within the LGBTQ movement there is a liberal wing which has been hegemonic and then a broader mass of people whose needs and issues have been marginalized. So, I think there’s a comparable struggle going on within LGBTQ movements over whose issues are going to be front and center. I’d like to see our feminism for the 99 percent speak for trans, queer, and lesbian women, and I’d like to see an LGBTQ movement for the 99 percent, which would be its natural ally.

RM: It’s clear that the struggle over social reproduction could build a bloc against neoliberalism and capitalism. But what about patriarchal relationships — can we fight male violence within the terms of the fight over reproduction? Can we use this front to change our relationships with other women and, above all, with men?

NF: Let me start by mentioning the #MeToo movement. The public image of this movement is focused on Hollywood, highly paid actresses, entertainers, the media, and so on. But the broad mass of much less privileged women is even more vulnerable to sexual assault and harassment at work. I’m talking about agricultural workers, some of whom don’t even have papers, and whose lack of power and resources makes them very vulnerable to the demands of bosses and foremen. The same is true of hotel workers — for example, the case of Dominque Strauss-Kahn — or workers who clean offices. People who work in private homes as domestic workers are notoriously subject to rape and sexual assault.

The #MeToo movement, if you think about it more broadly, is a labor struggle. It’s a struggle for a safe workplace where you are not subject to abuse. That the media focuses only on the top tier is unfortunate, for it makes it look like it’s not a class struggle. But the social reproduction issue also has to do, at bottom, with changing the relations between production and reproduction and, therefore, changing the balance of power within households.

Social reproduction should not be gendered as women’s work only. It’s important work in society, some aspects of which are very pleasurable and creative. Men should have access to that and should feel responsibility to do their share and pull their full weight. This, too, is about changing dynamics within households. And of course, a feminism for the 99 percent is against all violence against women, against trans people, against non-cis people, against racialized people, and so on.

Patriarchy is a word, I should say, that I don’t myself like to use, for it suggests an image of power that is dyadic — you have a master and then a servant who is their subject. Some of that still exists, there is no question. But the really central forms of power in our society exist in a more impersonal and structural way, constraining the options of working-class and poor people.

So, I think it’s important to have a different image of power. It works through the banks and the IMF, through the organization of finance and industry, and through the construction of gendered and racialized labor markets. This is what determines who has access to resources, who can vindicate their claims and function as equals even within families and personal relationships.

RM:When you talk about social justice you distinguish among three levels. There is distribution (the economy) but also recognition (culture) and representation (politics). To what extent are these three levels present in the new cycle of feminism?

NF: I think we’re concerned with all these things, and they’re sort of interrelated. You can’t change the economic sphere and distributive relations if you don’t change these other things, too.

What counts as a political issue is often defined in terms of what counts as an economic issue. The forces of capital insist that issues concerning the workplace should be decided by the markets, by the bosses, that these are not issues for democratic, political, collective self-determination. There’s a line between what the private owners of capital decide and what we as democratic majorities decide.

A lot of this has to do with questions of culture — with the languages available to us to understand our situation. Do we have concepts like sexual harassment and date-rape, the terminology with which to talk about what the wrongs in society are, to talk about our experience and to make our claims?

Feminism has done a great deal to create new language and, in that sense, to change culture, to change people’s understanding of what they are entitled to and don’t have to put up with. So, it’s broadened the sphere of political discourse and what is potentially a question for democratic decision-making and not the private decision for the family or the firm.

At present, we’ve made more progress at this cultural level than we have at the level of institutional change and transformation, both in the political sphere and in the economic sphere. But it’s always about the interrelations among these three things.

RM:You’ve pointed out that neoliberalism has appropriated some of the critiques developed and demands raised by second-wave feminism and other 1970s movements, incorporating them to its own benefit. Could this happen again with the emerging forms of feminism — and what can we do to avoid this?

NF: Liberal feminism along with liberal antiracism and liberal LGBTQ movements and what has been called “green capitalism” were hegemonized — incorporated into — a hegemonic ruling bloc which in the United States took the form of what I call “progressive neoliberalism.”

These movements lent their charisma, their ideology, to give these horrible policies — financialization, the precarization of work, and the driving down of wages — the veneer of being pro-gay, pro-women, and so on. That definitely happened, and this is why it is so important that the new wave of feminism should break with that kind of feminism and chart a new path.

It’s always possible to be hegemonized and recuperated by more powerful forces whose ultimate aims are deeply at odds with one’s own. It is always important for emancipatory and left-wing movement to be wary of this.

Today, we are told that we really have only two options — either right-wing authoritarian populisms, which are racist and xenophobic, or else go back to our liberal protectors and progressive neoliberalism. But this is a false choice — we need to refuse both options.

This is a moment of huge crisis in which we have the chance to chart a different path, building a truly anti-systemic movement for the 99 percent in which feminism for the 99 percent is one current along with labor movements, environmentalism for the 99 percent, the fight for migrant rights for the 99 percent, and so on.

RM: You have written that the nation state (in what you call the Westphalian-Keynesian framework) has entered into crisis with neoliberalism and that its borders are now more diffuse. You call this the “deframing” policy. But what is the role of the nation state today. Can we say that it has disappeared?

NF: No, it hasn’t disappeared. Historically the main force that has provided any level of protection and security to working people from capital has been the nation state. And it’s still the case that the nation state remains the principal addressee of claims. When we want protection, when we want social support, who do we ask? We demand that our government respond to us.

This is understandable when politics is still largely organized on a national basis, that national election campaigns are the principal activities for national-level politics. But it remains the case that this is ultimately inadequate.

We can see this when we look at migration, which is a huge point of conflict, indeed a crisis. We have people from all over the world who don’t have states that can protect them or give them anything like what we in the wealthy countries are asking our states to give us. They are living in failed states, in refugee camps, they are forced to leave by political violence, by religious persecution, by the fact that the United States has invaded and destroyed their countries, by climate crisis, by many features of the global crisis that we live in.

When these people come, the right-wing populist movements double down on their politics of nationalism and exclusion. What’s Trump’s slogan? “Make America Great Again” — like it was before all these dark people started showing up and ruining our country. That’s the ideology of this populist movement. So, we need to think in a transnational and global way about how we can ensure social rights for all people in the world. They need those rights, so that they don’t have to get into a boat and risk their lives just to find a decent place to live, somewhere halfway around the planet.

First published in Viento Sur, translated into English by Jacobin.


From International Viewpoint online


http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article6210

The future demands environmental justice

 

Sunday 15 September 2019, by Solidarity Ecosocialist Woking Party

While the forests in the Amazon and Congo are in flames, while extreme weather demolishes island countries from the Caribbean to Southeast Asia, while the Great Lakes suffer from both flooding and the spread of algae, politicians and corporations fail to address the climate crisis. So youth around the globe are taking a stand, demanding that we break with the fossil-fuel economy. On September 20 youth are striking for climate justice. We stand with them!

Solidarity Ecosocialist Working Group

As ecosocialists we see capitalism’s demand for continuous growth and the exploitation of our natural resources creates agricultural and industrial models rooted in profit for the 1%. In destroying the balance that must exist on planet Earth, this economic system also fails to meet the material and social needs of the vast majority. As a result, growing inequality and changing weather conditions have already led to more than 70 million refugees, with more to come.

Youth are demanding an end to subsidizing destructive industries: stopping the construction of pipelines, halting resource extraction on indigenous lands, decommissioning coal, gas and nuclear facilities and building a free and public mass transportation system to replace the individual car. We stand with them in requiring that investors and polluters who bankrolled and built this chaos pay for the transition, not workers and their communities. They recognize that pollution, like other aspects of capitalism, impacts people of color most severely. It is the most vulnerable who have been on the front line.

We need a “just transition,” one that retools and repurposes manufacturing, replaces the inadequate system of food production and builds communities where people have the right to good, healthy and meaningful work. In short, youth are demanding a future for themselves and for the planet!

We believe it is possible for humanity to break with the destructive logic of the capitalist system. The break will come as millions join in the fight to stop fossil fuel emissions and the pollution of land, water and air. September 20 and the actions over the following week represent a new stage in the fight to end the exploitation and inequality capitalism breeds.

Build the Climate Strike

Solidarity National Committee Motion

We encourage members to help build the Friday, September 20 international strike against climate change called by Greta Thunberg, the high school Swedish student calling for students to strike every Friday for climate justice. (See Global Climate Strike.)

The action will take many different forms around the world: striking students, targeting polluters, organizing direct actions, marching in the streets and maybe even some worker strikes. We note that there is a particular role for teachers to support their students.

September 20 is the kickoff of a week of activities that will go through September 27. Environmental justice organizations, 350.org, DSA, Rising Tide and many others will be working to build these actions. We particularly encourage members to assist in building coalitions where possible.

September 20 is just three days before an emergency climate summit being held in New York. Youth in the Fridays For Future network are mobilizing for their largest global climate strike ever. [1] They have invited everyone to join them on September 20 and again the following Friday, September 27 when they will join Earth Strike for a general strike. (See Earth Strike.)

Footnotes

[1] https://fridaysforfuture.org/.

 

http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article6215

Gandhism and the Myth of Liberal Tolerance


 Murzban Jal


[We publish this essay, with the hope that this will stimulate a debate on several necessary issues -- Administrator, Radical Socialist website]

In the age that imagines that sedition is the “in thing”, almost a somewhat form of postmodern fashion, one must stress the importance of free argument. The defenders of the nation like the defenders of faith usually do not think that arguments are of important. After all (for all bourgeois imagination), when one attacks the nation one simultaneously attacks the father of the nation. For Ambedkar, Gandhi was no “Mahatma” and no father of the nation; just as for Trotsky he represented colonial interests. Mr. Gandhi, the alleged “father of the nation and his elevation as “Mahatma” is an elevation in a fascistic sense and he being called the “father of the nation” is nothing but a form of sadomasochism where the father (as shown by psychoanalysis) brutalizes his children. What this literally means is that Mr. Gandhi literally sodomized the entire nation and we are all unfortunate children of this sodomy. After all, if he is the father, then we are all his unfortunate children. And just as the biblical god procreated out from himself creating Adam (and then Eve), so too we Indians seem to be procreated out from this alleged “father of the nation”.

What one needs is a radical critique of this form of quietism that Gandhism has preached. Ambedkar was critical of Gandhi and the essence of Ambedkar’s critique was Gandhism. Quite often it is said that the threats come from the neo-conservative quarters and it seems in this narrative that there are two neat halves: fascism which threatens and kills and liberalism which loves and promotes tolerance.  India, it seems according to this imagined narrative, is torn into two halves. We either have to be a fascist or a liberal. And according to this imagined narrative Gandhi becomes the apostle of tolerance and democracy—never mind his active support of the caste system and all the regressions that followed.

            What I am saying is that this eulogizing of Gandhi is not merely an imagined narrative, but a myth, in a very dangerous fascist sense. What I would also say is that fascism cannot be monopolized by any one group. It is an “open” discourse which swallows everyone. And to emphasize, we live in the age of fascism. We cannot escape it.

What I would also like to say is that liberalism and Gandhism are not answers to India’s problems. What I would also say is that Gandhi is more of a myth created by the Congress party to leave the masses disempowered. Ambedkar knew this. For him the epitome of reaction and counterrevolution in India was Gandhi. His critique of Gandhi cannot be treated as some type of “side critique” to be put as a footnote in books that no one reads. Ambedkar’s critique is the very essence of emancipatory politics in India. Devoid of a critique of Gandhi and the Congress there can never be any form of emancipatory politics. The critique of Indian fascism cannot take refuge in Gandhi and Nehru.  

Not only would emanicipatory politics emerge from the critique of Gandhi and the Congress, but also the revolution. And to those who imagine that the Indian right-wing is critical of Gandhi and the Congress, I will say in a very Ambedkarite tone that Indian fascism (while abusing Nehru) is nothing but different manifestations of Gandhism and the Congress. What does this mean?  Does this mean that Savarkar and Gandhi are the same? Does this mean that Hind Swaraj and Essentials of Hindutva are the same? 

The answer that needs to be given is that one needs a rigorous Marxist philosophy to get a proper and coherent answer and merely pattering on with random statements will simply not help. Merely claiming that RSS is fascistic and Gandhism is about all the virtues of the world will simply not solve the problem. The masses for instance are neither interested in the RSS nor in Gandhism. And we need to talk to the masses. And when we talk it has to be philosophical. It has to talk of humanity and human freedom. And as we well know Gandhism, was and is, neither interested in humanity nor human freedom. Merely mentioning Tolstoy and Ruskin and then imagining that Gandhi was another great novelist is out of question.

The first point in this rigorous Marxist philosophy is that Marxism is not an ideology. Instead as I had said first in an article in Economic & Political Weekly then followed by an article in Critique that Marxism has to be understood as “desireology” and that authentic dialectical materialism moves from the realm of “ideas” to the core material body. What defenders of Gandhi have done is that they have become merely “ideological” and in this realm of ideology there is a great fight taking place between the tolerancewallas and those against it.

While I am clear that Gandhi stands for the Indian counterrevolution and that not only did Ambedkar theorize on the same, but also was pointed out by revolutionaries like Trotsky. This is how the argument goes. There are three parts of the argument. They go thus:

1.      How does one theorize on the Ambedkar-Gandhi debate in the age of global fascism? Does Ambedkar’s radical critical of Gandhi as counterrevolutionary avant la lettre have meaning in his age of global fascism? Or can Gandhi be mobilized against fascism just as he (as the myth created by the liberal goes) fought against British colonialism? Can one make a bridge between Gandhi and Ambedkar? Or would such a manufactured bridge be a mythical bridge like the bridge that leads the immortal souls to the even more immortal and imagined heaven?

2.      I then moved to my second point and say that Marx scholarship should be a model and the work done by the Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe  or the Collected Works of Marx and Engels started by David Riazanov in the 1920s in Moscow and now carried out at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam is an example of how research ought to be done. Another example is Freud Studies where studies in psychoanalysis are done. My point was that serious research involves scientific thinking and scientific organization. Ideology will simply not do. And what does scientific thinking do? It moves from the realm of ideology and ideologies to the material basis. It thus goes directly into the economic mode of production and thus claims that ideologies of manifold kinds are mere manifestations of this economic basis. Thus it is to the critique of political economy that one needs to turn ones attention. For Gandhi, the economic basis was capitalism, and he was the staunchest supporter of capitalism both theoretically and also as mobilizer for funds. Even then Gandhi’s type of capitalism was a brutal form of agrarian, pre-machinery capitalism where caste had necessarily to exist.

3.      My third point that in the age of global capitalism where “post-truth” prevails and where the truths of Marx and Ambedkar are buried, liberalism and fascism which are both the manifestations of the same economic base of capitalism appears as different. Both seem to sell different commodities, when in actuality they sell the very same commodity. I also said that instead of dealing with actual problems of the masses when one turns one’s attentions to stupid assertions as to who killed or did not kill Gandhi seems an extremely pervert point of view. I said that liberals would only be writing manuals tilted The Liberal’s Guide to Perversion.  What I then said is that for Revolutionary Marxism there is no distinction between liberalism and fascism, I said that liberalism is nothing but fascism without a gun, just as fascism is liberalism with a gun. Likewise there is no difference for Ambedarite philosophy between Gandhi and Godse. Thus Gandhi was nothing but Godse without a gun, just as Godse was Gandhi with a gun. For both liberalism and fascism, Gandhi and Godse guns are of vital importance.

It was Goebbels the propagandist of the Nazis who had said that when he hears of culture he reaches out for his gun. But here it were the Gandhians reached out for their guns against communism long before fascism became a fashion in India. “How dare”, so the Gandhians say “can one insult the father of the nation?” After all, does not one know (according to their very tolerant imagination) that the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost can never be critiqued?

            Yes we live in the age of fascism. But we see many types of fascists. But then we do not even know what fascism is. After all, we know that when the liberal is in power he becomes a fascist and when not in power he even becomes a socialist. But this has not yet answered our questions: “What is fascism? Is not fascism merely potent liberalism or liberalism charged with a dose of Viagra?”

            We need to conclude: fascism is not the problem, capitalism is. Capitalism is the brute reality that we live in and fascism is its inevitable manifestation. It is liberalism that squashes all desire for revolutionary resistance. Fascism unwittingly hastens the revolution, but for that it is communism that should learn the fine details of dialectical materialism. We know that fascism globally has given way to communist seizure of power and the consolidation of left movements. But for the growth of the left, one must not borrow from the ideological cranium of Gandhism, must stop sheepishly defending Nehru. After all, the left can grow only from a real understanding of dialectics. It can also grow with revolutionary commitment. Liberalism and Gandhism destroy the will to revolution.  

Statement on India’s Revocation of Jammu & Kashmir’s Autonomous Status by the Indian Government

 

 Alliance of Middle Eastern Socialists

As the Indian government resorts to annexation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir at gunpoint, detaining its political leaders and cutting off all means of communication, we extend our solidarity to the people of Jammu and Kashmir as they struggle for their most basic rights and freedoms.

The people of Kashmir were never given the option of having their own state. Since 1947, their land has been fought over by India and Pakistan and divided between the two. At Independence in August 1947, Jammu and Kashmir was a princely state ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh, and was given the choice to join either India or Pakistan. Since J&K was a Muslim-majority state, many expected it to join Pakistan. On the other hand, the party leading the independence struggle, the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, was secular and allied to the Indian National Congress.

As the Maharaja dithered over the decision, there was a Pakistan-backed invasion of tribesmen from the west in October 1947, and Hari Singh appealed to India to help fight them. India agreed on condition that J&K accede to India, and the Maharaja signed the instrument of accession which on the Indian side was conditional on approval by the people of the state. As fighting continued, the UN Security Council passed a resolution requiring Pakistan to withdraw its forces, India to withdraw most of its forces, and a plebiscite to be held to decide whether Kashmir should join India or Pakistan. However, neither side withdrew their forces, the plebiscite was never held, and the state has remained divided to this day.

In 1952, on the Indian side, Article 370, which specified the conditions on which the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) had acceded to India, was incorporated into the Constitution of India on the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. In 1954, Article 35A was added with the agreement of the J&K Constituent Assembly. Since the Constituent Assembly dissolved itself on 25 January 1957 without recommending revocation of Article 370, it has been deemed to be permanent by the Supreme Court of India.

On 5 August 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of India revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which had given the state of J&K a considerable degree of autonomy, including having its own constitution and its own flag.

The Constitution of India does allow Article 370 to be revoked, but only with the prior approval of the Kashmiri people’s elected representatives in J&K’s constituent assembly. Even the approval of J&K’s legislative assembly was not sought because it had been dissolved in November 2018 by the BJP-appointed governor. On August 5, he fraudulently provided consent on behalf of millions of Kashmiris as they were held in captivity in their homes at gunpoint, while elected political leaders, even those who have been in coalitions with the BJP, were detained and all means of communication, including cellphones, landlines and the internet, were cut off.

The Revocation of Article 370 also involved the scrapping of Article 35A of the Indian constitution, which, crucially, reserved the right to own land and immoveable property, as well as the right to vote and contest elections, to seek government employment and obtain state welfare benefits, to permanent residents of the state. Now, J&K has been carved up into two Union Territories ruled directly from Delhi, a move designed to further humiliate the already subjugated population.

This revocation by the Indian government is the most impressive feat yet achieved in the BJP’s steady demolition of India’s democracy over the past five years. The central government’s unilateral abrogation of the terms on which Kashmir acceded to India means that the state is no longer legally linked to India, and India becomes a foreign occupying power. Previous governments have been guilty of grievous violations of Article 370 as well as human rights violations in Kashmir, but this is the first time that the Indian military occupation of Kashmir has no legal basis whatsoever.

The excuses provided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for making this move – to end separatist violence and develop J&K to the level of the rest of India – make no sense. Separatist violence will not be ended by enraging even those Kashmiris who previously wanted to be part of India by demolishing their democratic rights. The economic arguments the Indian government gives are bogus too.

Far from lagging behind the rest of India, Kashmir is ahead of many states in India, including Modi’s and BJP president and government minister, Amit Shah’s home state of Gujarat. Kashmir has much lower infant and under-five mortality rates, lower percentages of underweight children and women, higher percentages of fully immunised children and girls aged 15-19 with at least 8 years of schooling, and higher life expectancy despite the ongoing conflict. Most strikingly, the poverty ratio in Kashmir is much lower than the national average. This is in large part due to Kashmir’s own constitution, under which extensive land reforms were undertaken in the 1950s, drastically reducing the landlessness and rural poverty which haunt the rest of India. Kashmir’s special status has been responsible for this reduction in poverty, both by allowing for the land reforms and by preventing non-Kashmiris from acquiring land in Kashmir.

This brings us to the real reasons, political, economic and ideological, why this drastic move has been made by India: it opens the door to a land-grab by settlers from the rest of India, which will also make it possible to change the demography of J&K. Muslim-majority Kashmir has always been a thorn in the flesh of Hindu supremacists, who in 1948 had killed and expelled hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Jammu. The abrogation of Article 370 allows them to ‘integrate’ J&K into India by changing its ethnic composition. In other words, the intention is to turn Kashmir into a settler-colony like Palestine. It is not a coincidence that India, which from Independence had been a strong supporter of the Palestinian liberation struggle, has under Modi – the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel and literally embrace Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu – become a staunch ally of Israel.

At the same time, Pakistan-backed Islamic fundamentalists (both armed and unarmed) who call for uniting Kashmir with Pakistan offer an ‘alternative’ that would be disastrous for women, religious minorities, and the secular majority. They have acted in tandem with the Hindu supremacists to silence progressive voices and undermine democracy in Kashmir.

Meanwhile, the war hysteria whipped up by Hindu supremacists in India and Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan serves to divert attention from the abysmal failure of both these states to satisfy even the most basic needs of their people, and can lead to an escalation of the armed conflict between them. Russia backs India, China backs Pakistan, and the US calls on India and Pakistan to remain calm, while Trump’s overt racism and anti-Muslim bigotry serves to encourage the same attitudes in India.

At this moment of unprecedented trauma and repression, we, the Alliance of Middle Eastern and North African Socialists, express our whole-hearted solidarity with the people of Jammu & Kashmir and reaffirm their fundamental right to determine their own future in their own land. At a time when support for Jammu & Kashmir’s freedom is treated as treason in both India and Pakistan, we would especially like to extend our solidarity to socialists and progressives there and their counterparts in India and Pakistan.

August 12, 2019

Alliance of Middle East Socialists

সংবিধানের ৩৭০ ও ৩৫এ ধারা বাতিল প্রসঙ্গে র‍্যাডিক্যাল সোশ্যালিস্টের অবস্থান

 

র‍্যাডিক্যাল সোশ্যালিস্ট দ্ব্যর্থহীন কণ্ঠে ও দৃঢ়তার সঙ্গে সংবিধানের ৩৭০ ধারার মূল লক্ষ্য ও উদ্দেশ্য কার্যত বাতিল করা এবং ৩৫এ ধারা রদ করার বিরোধিতা করে নিন্দা জানাচ্ছে। একটি অগণতান্ত্রিক ও অসাংবিধানিক আইনি মারপ্যাঁচের মাধ্যমে এবং একইসাথে কাশ্মীরের মানুষকে উদ্দেশ্যপ্রণোদিতভাবে সশস্ত্র ভীতিপ্রদর্শনের মাধ্যমে এই কাজটি করা হয়েছে। যা ঘটেছে তাকে বলা চলে অসৎ, এবং সংবিধানের উক্ত ধারাগুলির মূল লক্ষ্য এবং উদ্দেশ্যগুলির প্রতি প্রতারণা ও জালিয়াতি ।

৩৭০ ধারা বাতিল করার একমাত্র উপায় হল জম্মু-কাশ্মীরের সংবিধান সভার পুনর্গঠন এবং সেখানে এই প্রস্তাব নেওয়া। কারণ এই প্রতিষ্ঠানটি ১৯৫৭ সালে ভেঙ্গে দেওয়া হয়। কোনরকম সাংবিধানিক সংশোধন ছাড়া অবৈধভাবে একটি রাষ্ট্রপতির আদেশ জারি করে সংবিধানের ৩৬৭ ধারা বদল করে এর মাধ্যমে নির্লজ্জভাবে জম্মু-কাশ্মীরের বিধানসভার ক্ষমতা ঐ সংবিধান-সভার সমতুল্য বলে দেখানো হয়। এই শেষোক্ত প্রতিষ্ঠান অনেক বেশি সার্বভৌমিক ক্ষমতার অধিকারী। যেহেতু জম্মু-কাশ্মীরে এখন রাষ্ট্রপতির শাসন চলছে সেহেতু রাজ্যপালের সুপারিশের ভিত্তিতে রাষ্ট্রপতি সংবিধানের ৩৭০ ও ৩৫এ ধারার বিলোপ ঘটায়। তাছাড়া স্বাধীন ভারতে এই প্রথম সংসদের দুই কক্ষে একটি রাজ্য পুনর্গঠন বিল পেশ করা ও গৃহীত হয় যার মাধ্যমে একটি রাজ্যের মর্যাদা হ্রাস করে তা অবলুপ্তি ঘটিয়ে দুটি কেন্দ্র-শাসিত অঞ্চলে ভেঙ্গে দেওয়া হয়। এই কেন্দ্র-শাসিত অঞ্চলগুলির একটির – জম্মু-কাশ্মীরের - পন্ডিচেরি ও দিল্লির মতো আইনসভা থাকবে আর লাদাখ দেশের আরও পাঁচটি কেন্দ্র-শাসিত অঞ্চলের মতো এই অধিকার ভোগ করবে না। চাপের মুখে নতিস্বীকার করে বিরোধী দলগুলি বিজেপির পক্ষ না নিলে এই রাজ্য পুনর্গঠন বিল পাশ করানো যেত না।

কংগ্রেস দল (যে দল ঐতিহাসিকভাবে জম্মু-কাশ্মীরের স্বশাসনের ধারাবাহিক অবনতি ঘটিয়েছে) সরকারিভাবে বর্তমান সরকারের এই পদক্ষেপের বিরোধিতা করছে। যদিও অভিষেক সিংহভি এবং জ্যোতিরাদিত্য সিন্ধিয়ার মতো কোন কোন কংগ্রেসের নেতা এই কাজের বিরোধিতা করেন নি, শুধুমাত্র পদ্ধতির সমালোচনা করেছেন। একমাত্র বামপন্থীরাই এর বিরোধিতায় রাস্তায় নেমেছে এবং সারা ভারতে প্রতিবাদ করেছে।

আমদের কোন দ্বিধা থাকা উচিত নয় যে বিজেপি সরকার ও সঙ্ঘ পরিবারের এই নির্লজ্জ রাজনৈতিক ও সামরিক দখলদারির মূল কারণ হল ক) প্রথমত মুসলমানের প্রতি ঘৃণা, এবং যেখানে জম্মু-কাশ্মীর কার্যত দেশের একমাত্র মুসলমান প্রধান রাজ্য ছিল। খ) দ্বিতীয়ত উপত্যকার মানুষের ওপর আরও বেশি আঘাত নামানো। সেই কারণেই ৬,৫০,০০০ ফৌজির উপস্থিতি সত্ত্বেও আরও ৩৫,০০০ সৈন্য পাঠানো হয়। কাশ্মীরের রাজনৈতিক নেতাদের গৃহবন্দী করে রাখা হয়, কারফিউ জারি করা হয় এবং উপত্যকার সমস্ত যোগাযোগ ব্যবস্থা ছিন্ন করে দেওয়া হয়। গ) তৃতীয়ত হিন্দু রাষ্ট্র নির্মাণের পথে এটি একটি গুরুত্বপূর্ণ পদক্ষেপ। ঘ) চতুর্থত এর মাধ্যমে পাকিস্তান, মার্কিন যুক্তরাষ্ট্র ও অন্যান্যদের রাজনৈতিক বার্তা পাঠানো যে পাকিস্তানের সাথে দ্বিপাক্ষিকভাবে মীমাংসা করার মতো কোন "আঞ্চলিক দ্বন্দ্ব" নেই। রাষ্ট্রপুঞ্জ বা আন্তর্জাতিক স্তরে মীমাংসার কোন প্রশ্নই ওঠে না। কোনরকমের মানবিক বিবেচনার বিষয় নেই এখানে।

অদূর ও সুদূর ভবিষ্যতে কী হতে পারে

 

  • বিষটি সুপ্রীম কোর্টে যাবে এবং একটি সাংবিধানিক বেঞ্চ গঠন করা হবে। এই মুহুর্তে সুপ্রীম কোর্ট শাসকের ইচ্ছা ও ক্ষমতার যে পরিমাণ অধস্তন তাতে এই বেঞ্চ এই বিষয়ে চূড়ান্ত রায়প্রদানের আগে স্থগিতাদেশ জারি করে সাময়িকভাবে একে রদ করার কোন সাহস বা সততা প্রদর্শন করতে পারবে কিনা সন্দেহ আছে। এই ধারাগুলি সম্পর্কিত নির্দিষ্ট সাংবিধানিক বিধান নিয়ে তারা কতটা সৎ ও বিশ্বস্ত থাকতে পারবে একথা বলা দুষ্কর। সর্বসম্মতিতে না হলেও এই বেঞ্চ যে সম্ভবত সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠের মতামতের ভিত্তিতে ৩৭০ ও ৩৫এ ধারার বাতিলের ওপর আইনী সীলমোহর দেবে সেই সম্ভাবনা প্রবল। রাজ্যের -- জম্মু-কাশ্মীর এবং লাদাখের মর্যাদা হ্রাসের বিপক্ষে আদালত রায় দিতে পারে, যদিও তা নিয়ে সন্দেহ আছে।
  • আগামী নির্বাচনের দিকে তাকিয়ে জম্মু-কাশ্মীরের নির্বাচনের আগে একটি আসন পুনর্গঠন কমিশন গঠন করে বিধানসভা ও লোকসভা কেন্দ্রগুলির পুনর্বিন্যাস করা হবে। চেষ্টা করা হবে জম্মু অঞ্চলে যত বেশি সম্ভব আসন রাখা যায় যাতে বিজেপি ও তার সঙ্গীরা সহজে সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠতা পেতে পারে।
  • জম্মু-কাশ্মীরের এবং বিশেষ করে উপত্যকার জন অনুপাত বদলে দেওয়ার পদ্ধতি শুরু করার জন্য ৩৫এ ধারার বিলোপ জরুরী ছিল। চেষ্টা চলবে যাতে উপত্যকায় মুসলমানদের সংখ্যালঘু করা যায়।
  • কাশ্মীর উপত্যকায় এর বিরুদ্ধে মানুষ, বিশেষ করে যুবসমাজ, ক্ষোভ-বিক্ষোভে ফেটে পড়বে। তারা আরও বেশি করে ভারতের থেকে দূরে সরে যাবে। আরও বেশি করে জঙ্গি তৈরি হবে এবং তাদের প্রতি সাধারণ মানুষের সমর্থন আরও বাড়বে। সীমান্তের দুই পারের জঙ্গিদের সহযোগিতা বেড়ে যাবে এবং পাকিস্তান সরকার তাতে মদত যোগাবে। এই ধরণের পরিস্থিতি এবং এমন কি মানুষের অহিংস আন্দোলনকে কাজে লাগিয়ে ভারত সরকার ও সেনাবাহিনী আরও বেশি নৃশংসতা ও দমন-নিপীড়ন নামিয়ে আনবে মানুষের ওপর। ‘সন্ত্রাসবাদ’ দমনের নয়া সংশোধিত আইন এবং ‘বেআইনি কার্যকলাপ দমন আইন ২০১৯’ বা ইউএপিএ প্রয়োগের মাধ্যমে নির্বিচারে এবং সন্দেহের বশে যে কোন ব্যক্তিকে আটক, হয়রানি এবং নির্যাতন করা হবে।
  • এই অঞ্চলের উন্নয়ন কতটা আটকে ছিল এবং তা কীভাবে শুরু করা যায় – এই আলোচনার পেছনে রয়েছে সঙ্ঘ পরিবারের মূল লক্ষ্য উপত্যকার আরও বেশি ‘ভারতভুক্তির’ মাধ্যমে ওখানকার সমস্ত প্রতিরোধ পাশবিক শক্তি ও সামরিক দখলদারির মাধ্যমে গুঁড়িয়ে দেওয়া
  • পাকিস্তানের সঙ্গে সীমান্ত সঙ্ঘর্ষের সম্ভাবনা ব্যাপক বৃদ্ধি পাবে। এগুলি কোন কোন মাত্রায় প্রথাগত যুদ্ধের রূপ নিতে পারে। এর ফলে ভুলবশত বা অনিচ্ছাকৃত পারমাণবিক অস্ত্র ব্যবহারের সম্ভাবনা উড়িয়ে দেওয়া যায় না।
  • বর্তমান সরকারের এই পদক্ষেপের বিরোধিতার পরিবর্তে দেশজোড়া বিপুল সমর্থন প্রমাণ করে যে উদ্ধত, আক্রমণাত্মক পেশী-প্রদর্শনকারী হিন্দুত্বের বিষদাঁত আজ সমাজের কত গভীরে প্রবেশ করেছে এবং তা কি পরিমাণে ব্যপ্ত। কোন বিরোধী দল এমন কি মূলধারার সংসদীয় বাম দলগুলিও ধারাবাহিকভাবে এবং গুরুত্বের সাথে এই ‘শক্তিশালী’ ভারতবর্ষ নির্মাণের সাম্প্রদায়িক ও অগণতান্ত্রিক পদ্ধতির বিরোধিতা করে নি। এই আধিপত্যবাদী ভাবনার মোকাবিলা করতে এক দীর্ঘকালীন লড়াইয়ের মাধ্যমে যার জন্য প্রয়োজন এক নতুন আপসহীন বামপন্থা।

আমাদের সতর্ক করার কারণ এই যে যুক্তরাষ্ট্রীয় কাঠামো ও রাষ্ট্রের ক্ষমতার ক্ষয় আসলে হিন্দুত্ব প্রকল্পেরই একটি অংশ। যে আঞ্চলিক দলগুলি কেন্দ্রের বিজেপির সাথে অঘোষিত, অবাঞ্ছনীয় আপোষের মাধ্যমে নিজেদের শক্তি বৃদ্ধির আশা করছে, বাস্তবে তারা আসলে আরো বড় বিপদের সম্ভাবনা বহন করছে।

হিন্দুত্ব প্রকল্পের বিপদের কথা মাথায় রেখে যারা এর বিরোধিতা করছেন, সেইসব প্রগতিশীল মানুষের আছে আমাদের আহ্বান, আপনারা সকলে কাশ্মীরের মানুষের পাশে দাঁড়িয়ে সহমর্মিতা পোষণ করুন। কাশ্মীরীদের প্রতি ন্যায়বিচার ও সম্মান তাদের স্বাধীন চলাফেরা ও দ্রুত অসামরিকীকরণ দাবি করে। ইচ্ছানুসারে গণতান্ত্রিক পদ্ধতিতে ন্যায়সঙ্গত ক্ষোভের প্রকাশ ও সংগঠিত প্রতিবাদ তাদের অধিকার।

আমরা এই বেড়ে ওঠা প্রান্তিকীকরণ, জাতিগত বর্ণবৈষম্যবাদ, সামরিক জাতীয়তাবাদের তীব্র প্রতিবাদ করছি । আমরা দৃঢ়ভাবে মনে করি কাশ্মীরের নিপীড়িত মানুষের রাজনৈতিক আত্মনিয়ন্ত্রণের সম্পুর্ণ অধিকার আছে।

 

 

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