Articles posted by Radical Socialist on various issues.

Radical Socialist on the Significance of 5th August and Prospects for the Future

5th August will go down in Indian history as the day aggressive, chauvinistic nationalism, in its most fascistic form, but also with a deeper implantation in society than any other ultra-right fascist-type force, succeeded in throttling the First Indian Republic.

It is incontestable that the constitution, the political practices, of independent India always had a Hindu, and Brahminical tilt. However, what was one element among many became, in the hands of the RSS, and the entire range of political and ‘socio-cultural’ organisations it floated, the core and overwhelming thrust. That is why, on one hand, the BJP has been able to claim the nationalist high ground, and on the other hand, the Congress and other bourgeois parties have not been able to, and cannot, resist them on principled grounds. Rather than upholding secular principles, the Congress is currently competing with BJP over the ownership of Ram.

5th August has been chosen deliberately as the date for the bhoomi puja of the Ram Temple to come up. One year back, it was on 5th August that by a total disregard for even India’s previous, scarcely democratic procedures in Jammu and Kashmir, that the residual autonomy of the province was finally and totally smashed, by illegally turning it into two Union Territories. In the name of integration of the province into India, this marked the final step in an all out colonisation, since now the land, the resources of the province were up for grabs in a way they could not be done in the past, and the relatively progressive reforms of the early Abdullah regime were set to be overturned. Also, for an entire year, Kashmir has been under total despotism with the Supreme Court accepting claims made by the government, so that all arms of the state are united.

By linking the same date for the bhoomi puja, a whole set of coded messages are being sent out. This temple is being constructed through a judgement, whereby India’s Supreme Court admitted that a mosque had been destroyed in a criminal action, but still went on to tell the government to spend public money to build a religious institution for the majority community. Each step of the verdict was thus a blow against the principles of secularism. By choosing 5th August as the date, the Central Government is signalling that its actions are in one line. Muslim majority Kashmir is threatened with forced population changes in a bid to silence the decades long struggles there. The nation is being identified in an unabashed way with aggressive Hindutva politics, and with a Brahminical, north Indian brand of Hinduism.

There is no doubt that people will continue to fight oppression and exploitation. But the entire record of the past decades show, that unless India fights for the rights of Kashmir, India cannot get democracy, justice, social progress anywhere. The toiling people, workers and peasants, dalits and adivasis and other oppressed communities, women and other marginalised and oppressed genders, have to unite, have to come out of the hegemony of bourgeois politics, and Brahminical-Hindutva ideology. They have to build struggles that do not create hierarchies according to one so called main enemy, in the name of fighting whom, all special oppressions, all class exploitation must be forgotten. That is how bourgeois politics and its tail ending by the reformist left for the entire period since the Emergency of 1975-77 has led us into this destructive situation. There is no short cut. The struggle will be long. But the Hindutva triumphs of 5th August can only be fought back by unity based on real understanding of each oppression, the building of a mass united front, and a rejection of all bourgeois parties. Socialism is the only alternative to barbarism. Not the pipe dream of holding aloft the flag of a spurious real bourgeois democracy abandoned by the bourgeoisie, but the need is for a sustained and protracted struggle for a proletarian revolution under specific Indian conditions, which is possible only by becoming the voice of all the oppressed and exploited.

Radical Socialist Statement on Sri Lankan Elections

Radical Socialist sees the candidature of Vickrambahu Karunaratne (‘Bahu’), leader of the Nava Sama Samaj Party of Sri Lanka, and one of the two organisations affiliated to the Fourth International in Sri Lanka, as an UNP candidate, as an unambiguous crossing of the class line. This is however not something that happened without any prior warning.

The entire history of Sri Lankan Trotskyism is a history of periodic impressive political development as well as gross backsliding. The original Lanka Sama Samaj Party (LSSP) was the country’s first revolutionary party, and its historic leaders, like Leslie Goonawardene and Colvin R. de Silva, played major roles in the freedom struggle and in the mass movements afterwards. Yet in the name of Sri Lankan exceptional situation they forged a coalition with the bourgeois and Sinhala chauvinist Sri Lanka Freedom Party. At that time, the Fourth International expelled them, despite their being one of the major sections. But the problem of electoralism, and later also of the minority question, which took such a burning character in Sri Lanka, were not fully examined even by the radical left-wing. The LSSP(R), which had emerged from the LSSP, fragmented. Another current, the Vama Samasamaja current, arose within the LSSP, was expelled, and founded the Nava Sama Samaj Party.

From the 1990s, when the NSSP became a Section of the Fourth International, Indian Revolutionary Marxists have seen periodic twists and turns, very often articulated by the same comrade Bahu. The key issue continued, in part, to be electoral illusions. In the 1990s, the United Socialist Alliance had already included the Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya of Chandrika Kumaratunga (daughter of Sirimavo Bandaranayake and eventually President of Sri Lanka).As such, they were then de facto allied to Mahendra (Mahinda) Rajapaksha as well). When Rajapaksha headed a brutal and authoritarian regime from 2005, Bahu called it fascist, and saw the electoral defeat of Rajapaksha in 2015 as a democratic revolution. While in the 1990s the NSSP had allied with bourgeois parties like the SLMP to defeat the UNP, now Bahu has become a UNP candidate to defeat the SLFP.

Already, in the name of not allowing the Rajapakshas to reverse the so-called democratic revolution, Bahu had called for compromise with the regime. According to Vame Handa leaders he had called workers who had protested against the budget of the Ranil Wickremesinghe government as racist extremists or fascistic centralists. At the same time, his interview with Frontline shows him moving away from a firm commitment to Tamil rights. All this has culminated in the outright desire to stand on a UNP ticket.

This is a total betrayal of class independence and the building of a class struggle oriented mass party. This is not even any 1930s style Popular Frontism. It must be recognised that while the SLFP and its successor organisations have been Sinhala chauvinists, the UNP has also been extreme right-wing in its politics. Unless the lessons of the repeated political collapses in Sri Lanka are learnt, not only Sri Lankan Marxists, but those elsewhere in South Asia, who have learned also from the achievements of the Sri Lankan Marxists, may suffer politically. There is a need to examine, not merely in terms of mid 20th century history, but in terms of today’s class struggle, why the politics of electoralism, and of alliances with bourgeois parties (under the disguise that they are petty bourgeois parties, or ‘democratic’ parties, etc) can only lead to damages for the Trotskyist forces. We urge the Fourth International leadership to take it up as a burning political and educational issue, and take firm action. Collaborating with bourgeois oppositions is hardly restricted to Sri Lanka, and serious political discussions will benefit revolutionaries in India, at least.

16 July 2020

স্তালিন ও অক্টোবর বিপ্লবঃ একটি দলিল ভিত্তিক আলোচনা


কুণাল চট্টোপাধ্যায়   


আইজ্যাক ডয়েটশার স্তালিনের জীবনী রচনা করতে গিয়ে বলেছিলেন, অক্টোবর অভ্যুত্থানের সময়ে স্তালিনের অনুপস্থিতি এক অদ্ভূত কিন্তু অনস্বীকার্য তথ্য।[1] কিন্তু স্তালিন যুগে স্তালিনের প্রত্যক্ষ অংশগ্রহণে লেখা হিস্ট্রি অফ দ্য সি পি এস ইউ বি শর্ট কোর্সে বলা হয়েছে, যে অক্টোবর অভ্যুত্থানের দায়িত্বে ছিল স্তালিনের নেতৃত্বাধীন একটি পার্টি কেন্দ্র।[2] এই মত পুরো না হলেও, এদেশের বামপন্থী মহলে অনেকটাই গৃহীত। তাই দলিলের ভিত্তিতে দেখা হবে, ১৯১৭ সালে, ও বিশেষ করে সেপ্টেম্বর –অক্টোবরে স্তালিনের বাস্তব ভূমিকা কি ছিল?

স্তালিনের সামনে আসা, পিছনে হঠাঃ পার্টি কংগ্রেস থেকে অগাস্টের শেষ

কার্যত গোটা ১৯১৭ সালেই স্তালিনের ভূমিকা ছিল সীমিত। দরবারী ইতিহাসবিদরা ১৯২০-র দশকের শেষদিক থেকে সেটা বাড়িয়ে তোলার চেষ্টা করলেও, দলিল তা দেখায় না। এই প্রবন্ধে সবটা আলোচনার স্থান নেই। শেষ দিকটা নিয়েই বেশী আলোচনা করব। আমাদের কাছে জুলাই থেকে যে তথ্য, তা দেখায় পার্টি কংগ্রেসে গুরুত্বপূর্ণ ভূমিকা থাকলেও, এর পর স্তালিনের ভূমিকা সংকুচিত হয়।   

জুলাইয়ের দিন বলে পরিচিত ঘটনা বলশেভিক দলকে সাময়িক এক বিপদের দিকে ঠেলে দেয়, যদিও আমরা আজ সেটাকে সাময়িক বললেও, সেই সময়ে বিপদ বেশ বড়মাপের বলেই মনে হয়েছিল। জুলাইয়ের দিনগুলির ফলে স্তালিন একসময়ে একেবারে সামনের সারিতে আসেন। ষষ্ঠ পার্টি কংগ্রেসে স্তালিনের উপর গুরুত্বপূর্ণ দায়িত্ব ছিল। কিন্তু আপাতত আমাদের একটাই গুরুত্বপূর্ণ ঘটনা দেখতে হবে। শেষের দিকে এক রুদ্ধদ্বার অধিবেশন। কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটি নির্বাচিত হলে, প্রশ্ন ওঠে, এই দমনপীড়নের সময়ে কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির নাম প্রকাশ করা হবে কি না। প্রতিনিধিরা স্থির করেন প্রকাশ্যে নামগুলি ঘোষণা করা ঠিক হবে না। কিন্তু তাঁরা একথাও মনে করেন যে কোনো কথা না বলা ঠিক না। তাই অর্ঝনিকিজে প্রস্তাব করেন যে চারজন সর্বোচ্চ ভোট পাবেন তাদের নাম প্রকাশ করা হবে।[3] এই নামগুলি হল লেনিন (১৩৪ জন ভোট সহ প্রতিনিধির মধ্যে ১৩৩ ভোট পেয়েছিলেন), জিনোভিয়েভ (১৩২), কামেনেভ এবং ট্রটস্কী (দুজনেই ১৩১)। কংগ্রেসের কার্যবিবরণীর ১৯৫৮র সংস্করণ অনেকগুলি নাম বাদ দিয়েছিল, কারণ সম্ভবত তাঁরা পরে স্তালিনের বিরোধী ছিলেন এবং অনেককেই পরে হত্যা করা হয়েছিল।[4]১৯১৭ সালে এটা তাৎপর্যপূর্ণ যে লেনিনের ঘোষিত বিরোধী কামেনেভ, এবং দলে নবাগত ট্রটস্কী, কংগ্রেসে এত ভোট পেলেন। এটা দেখায়, দল ও শৃঙ্খলা সম্পর্কে স্তালিনের চিন্তা দলের চিন্তা ছিল না, এবং নেতৃত্ব নির্বাচনে জনপ্রিয়তার ভিত্তি অন্যরকম ছিল।  

দমনপীড়ন চালু থাকা, ট্রটস্কী কারারুদ্ধ থাকা, লেনিন ও জিনোভিয়েভ কবে প্রকাশ্যে ফিরবেন তা অনিশ্চিত থাকা, এই সবের ফলে এবং কামেনেভের বিরুদ্ধে পুলিশের সঙ্গে সহযোগিতা করার অভিযোগ ওঠায় ( তিনি জেল থেকে ছাড়া পেলেও, অগাস্টের শেষ অবধি তদন্ত চলায় তিনি নেতৃত্বে ছিলেন না), অগাস্ট মাসে স্তালিন গুরু দায়িত্ব পেয়েছিলেন। কিন্তু তিনি গোটা অগাস্ট জুড়ে কি কি কাজ করেছিলেন সেটা অনিশ্চিত। ধীরে ধীরে গণ আন্দোলন আবার মাথা তোলে। কিন্তু ১৯২৪ সালে ইস্টপার্ট (পার্টির ইতিহাসের দপ্তর) চার খন্ড একটি ঘটনা ও তার প্রতিবেদনের সংকলন প্রকাশ করেছিল। সেটির উল্লেখ করে ট্রটস্কী পরে লেখেন, অগাষ্ট-সেপ্টেম্বরের জন্য যে নির্ঘন্ট, তাতে প্রায় ৫০০ নামের মধ্যেও স্তালিনের নাম পাওয়া যায় না। সেই দুমাসের নানা লড়াইয়ে যারা অংশগ্রহণ করেছিলেন, তারাও স্তালিনের নাম উল্লেখ করেন নি।[5] 

১৯১৭-র অগাস্ট দলিলের দিক থেকে উল্লেখযোগ্য, কারণ ৪ঠা অগাস্টের কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির সভা থেকে ১৯১৮র গোড়ার দিকের মাসগুলি অবধি, কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির কার্যবিবরণী মোটামুটি যত্ন করে নেওয়া হয়েছিল, এবং সেগুলি প্রকাশিতও হয়েছিল। এছাড়া আছে স্তালিনের লেখা। কিন্তু প্রাভদা (এই সময়ে নানা নামে প্রকাশিত) তে তাঁর সব লেখাতে নিজের নাম নেই। ৬ সেপ্টেম্বর প্রথম K. St.  সইয়ে লেখা বেরোয়। ৯ সেপ্টেম্বর K. Stalin, ১২ সেপ্টেম্বর K। কেন্দ্রীয় পার্টি মুখপত্রের সম্পাদক, অথচ তিনি কোনো প্রবন্ধ লিখলেন না, যা নতুন পরিস্থিতিতে কাজ কি তার দিশা দেখাবে, নতুন প্রশ্ন তুলবে, ব্যাপক বিপ্লবী শ্রমিকের মধ্যে নতুন স্লোগান তুলে দেবে।   

কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির ৪ঠা অগাস্টের সভায় স্থির হয়, ১১জন সদস্যের ছোটো একটি কমিটি প্রতিদিনের কাজ চালাবে।[6] ৫ই অগাস্ট ঐ কমিটির সদস্যদের নাম স্থির করা হয়। এতে স্তালিন এবং সভের্দলভের নাম ছিল। আর ছিল সোকোলনিকভ, ঝারঝিনস্কি, মিলিউটিন, উরিতস্কি, ইয়ফ, মুরানভ, বুবনভ, স্তাসোভা, এবং শাউমিয়ানের নাম (এর মধ্যে শাউমিয়ান রাজধানীতে আসার আগে অবধি স্মিলগার নাম করা হয়)। উলামের মতে এই কমিটি ছিল পলিটবুরো।[7]কথাটা সম্ভবত ভ্রান্ত। মানা যায় না একাধিক কারণে। পরবর্তীকালে পলিটবুরোতে থাকতেন সবচেয়ে প্রামান্য নেতারা। এই কমিটি তাৎক্ষণিক কাজ চালাবার জন্য তৈরি। একদিকে এতে লেনিন বা জিনোভিয়েভ পর্যন্ত ছিলেন না, ছিলেন না ট্রটস্কী। অন্যদিকে বলা হচ্ছে, শাউমিয়ান রাজধানীতে আসা অবধি এই কমিটিতে থাকবেন না, তার জায়গায় থাকবেন স্মিলগা। আর, এই ছোটো কমিটি কার্যত ২৩শে অগাস্টের পর ার কাজ করেছিল এমন নথীই নেই।  

৬ অগাস্টের কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটি সভায় একটি সেক্রেটারিয়েট গড়ার সিদ্ধান্ত নেওয়া হয়।[8]এতে ছিলেন পাঁচজন সদস্য – সভের্দলভ, ঝারঝিনস্কি, ইয়ফ, মুরানভ, স্তাসোভা। স্পষ্টত, স্তালিনের চেয়ে সভের্দলভ এই সময়ে অনেক গুরু দায়িত্বে ছিলেন।

৪ঠা অগাস্ট একটি সিদ্ধান্ত নেওয়া হয়, পার্টির প্রকাশনাদের সম্পর্কে। সরকারী আক্রমণের ফলে প্রাভদা বন্ধ হয়ে গিয়েছিল। কিন্তু পার্টির সামরিক কমিটির পত্রিকা সোলদাত প্রকাশিত হচ্ছিল। আর পেত্রোগ্রাদ কমিটি নিজস্ব পত্রিকার দাবী তুলছিল। স্থির হয়, বর্তমান পরিস্থিতিতে শহরে একটিই পত্রিকা থাকবে, এবং সোলদাত-কে কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির পত্রিকা করা হবে। সম্পাদকমন্ডলী হবেন স্তালিন, সোকোলনিকভ এবং মিলিউটিন। ট্রটস্কীকে সদস্য করার প্রস্তাব আসে, কিন্তু ১১-১০ ভোটে তা নাকচ হয়। কিন্তু ৪ঠা সেপ্টেম্বর জামিনে  মুক্ত হলে ট্রটস্কী কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির সভায় আসেন এবং তাঁকে সেই সভা থেকে সম্পাদকমন্ডলীর সদস্য করা হয়, যদিও কার্যত সোভিয়েতে ও জনসভাতেই তাঁর সময় কাটত। পার্টির তাত্ত্বিক পত্রিকা প্রসভেশ্চেনিয়ের সম্পাদকমন্ডলীতেও থাকে স্তালিনের নাম। কিন্তু ৬ই সেপ্টেম্বর স্তালিন এবং রিয়াজানভের পরিবর্তে আনা হয় ট্রটস্কী ও কামেনেভকে। অর্থাৎ, জেলে আটক সদস্যরা বেরোনোর পরে স্তালিনের ভূমিকা কমতে থাকে।

ইতিমধ্যে সামরিক কমিটির সঙ্গে সংঘাত বাধে। ১৩ই অগাস্ট কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটি স্তালিনকে দায়িত্ব দেয়, সোলদাত যে কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটি নিয়ে নিচ্ছে, সে কথা সামরিক কমিটিকে জানাতে।[9]ঐ দিনই সামরিক কমিটির সঙ্গে স্তালিনের বৈঠক হয়। সামরিক কমিটি ১৫ই একটি আনুষ্ঠানিক অভিযোগ করে স্তালিনের তীব্র সমালোচনা করে ও বলে, কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির পরিবর্তনের পর থেকে একধরণের অদ্ভুত দমনপীড়ন চলছে। “সামরিক সংগঠনের কেন্দ্রীয় বুরো কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির কাছে দাবী করছে, দুই সংস্থার সম্পর্ক স্বাভাবিক করার...।[10]

বলা যায়, ১৯১৭ সালেই, পরবর্তী যুগের ছায়া দেখা গিয়েছিল। কিন্তু এটা ১৯১৭ ছিল। তাই দেখা গেল, কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটি সমস্যা মেটানোর জন্য সভের্দলভ ও ঝারঝিনস্কিকে দায়িত্ব দিল। পরে যখন অক্টোবরে অভ্যুত্থানের পরিকল্পনা হয়, তখন সামরিক কমিটির সঙ্গে স্তালিনের কোনো যোগসূত্র ছিল না।  

কর্নিলভের বিদ্রোহ ও স্তালিনের মত ও ভূমিকাঃ

১২ অগাস্ট থেকে মস্কোতে রাষ্ট্রীয় সম্মেলন শুরু হল। ১৫ই স্তালিন লিখলেন, “ঘটনা এগোচ্ছে একটি সামরিক একনায়কতন্ত্রের প্রতিষ্ঠা ও আইনীকরণের দিকে”।[11] কিন্তু মস্কোতে ঐ সম্মেলনের সময় থেকেই জেনারাল কর্নিলভ এবং প্রধানমন্ত্রী কেরেনস্কীর মধ্যে পার্থক্য এবং দুজনের সমর্থনের ভিত্তির পার্থক্য দেখা যাচ্ছিল। স্তালিনের কাছে এই পার্থক্য ছিল গৌণ, এবং এই পার্থক্য প্রকাশ্যে এলে বিপ্লবী দল ও শ্রেণী কি করতে পারবে তা নিয়ে তিনি বিশেষ ভাবেন নি। ২৮শে অগাস্ট নাম না লেখা একটি সম্পাদকীয়তে তিনি এই দ্বন্দ্ব সম্পর্কে লিখলেনঃ

“এখন জোট সরকার এবং কর্নিলভের দলের মধ্যে যে লড়াই চলছে সেটা বিপ্লব ও প্রতিবিপ্লবের মধ্যে প্রতিদ্বন্দ্বিতা নয়, ভিন্ন ভিন্ন ধরণের প্রতিবিপ্লবী নীতির দ্বন্দ্ব”।[12] অর্থাৎ, একদিকে দ্বন্দ্বটা কতদূর এগিয়েছিল, সেটার পুরো তাৎপর্য ধরতে তিনি ব্যর্থ হয়েছিলেন। অন্যদিকে, এই সংকটে শ্রমিক শ্রেণী ও বলশেভিক দল কি করতে পারে তা নিয়েও কোনো ভাবনা ছিল না। এর বিপরীতে আমরা দেখতে পাই লেনিন বা ট্রটস্কীর মত, যারা পার্টির নেতৃত্বে প্রলেতারীয় বিপ্লবের সূচনার কথা ভাবতে থাকেন।[13]

কর্নিলভের সঙ্গে কেরেনস্কীর সংঘাত সামনে এলে লেনিন কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটিকে পাঠানো একটি চিঠিতে প্রস্তাব করেন, নতুন অবস্থায় রণকৌশল পাল্টাতে হবে। কর্নিলভের বিরুদ্ধে লড়তে হবে, কিন্তু কেরেনস্কীকে সমর্থন না করে। এটা একটা সূক্ষ্ম তফাৎ, কিন্তু জরুরী। লেনিনের মতে, পার্টির দায়িত্ব হল কেরেনস্কীর দুর্বলতাকে প্রচারের মাধ্যমে সামনে এনে দেখানো, যাতে কর্নিলভের বিরুদ্ধে লড়াই থেকে কেরেনস্কীর বিরুদ্ধে লড়াইয়ের জন্য জনগণকে টানা যায়। এর জন্য দরকার আশু এবং নিঃশর্ত শান্তির আওয়াজ তোলা।[14]

ইতিমধ্যে পার্টির তদন্তে খালাস হয়ে কামেনেভ পুরোদমে রাজনৈতিক সক্রিয়তায় ফেরেন। ৩১ অগাস্ট সারা রাশিয়া সোভিয়েতদের কেন্দ্রীয় কার্যনির্বাহী কমিটির সভায় তিনি “ক্ষমতা প্রসঙ্গে” শীর্ষক একটি প্রস্তাব আনেন।[15] ৩১শে অগাস্ট পার্টির কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটি, কেন্দ্রীয় কার্যনির্বাহী কমিটির বলশেভিক প্রতিনিধিরা, এবং পেত্রোগ্রাদ সোভিয়েতের বলশেভিক প্রতিনিধিরা মিলে একটি সভা করেন।[16]

কামেনেভের প্রস্তাব লেনিনের বক্তব্যের চেয়ে মোলায়েম হলেও, মেনশেভিক বা সোশ্যালিস্ট রেভল্যুশনারীদের মূলস্রোতের তুলনায় প্রবল বামপন্থী ছিল। তিনি প্রস্তাব করেন, উচ্চশ্রেণীর প্রতিনিধিদের, বিশেষ করে ক্যাডেট দলের প্রতিনিধিদের, ক্ষমতা থেকে হঠানো হোক, গণতান্ত্রিক সাধারণতন্ত্র ঘোষিত হোক, জমিদারদের জমিতে ব্যক্তি মালিকানার অবসান করে বিনা ক্ষতিপূরণে সেই জমি কৃষক কমিটিদের হাতে দেওয়া হোক, দেশ জুড়ে উৎপাদন ও বন্টনে শ্রমিকদের নিয়ন্ত্রণ আনা হোক, সব গোপন চুক্তি অবৈধ ঘোষিত হোক ও গণতান্ত্রিক শান্তির জন্য আহবান করা হোক। এ ছাড়া ছিল একগুচ্ছ আশু দাবী। বলশেভিক কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটি কামেনেভের প্রস্তাব বিনা সংশোধনীতে গ্রহণ করে। সেই অধিবেশনে স্তালিন ছিলেন। কিন্তু সেদিন সন্ধ্যায় পরের অধিবেশনে তিনি ছিলেন না, যেমন তিনি ছিলেন না ৩রা সেপ্টেম্বরের অধিবেশনে।  

৩১শে অগাস্ট রাতে পেত্রোগ্রাদ সোভিয়েত কামেনেভের প্রস্তাব নিয়ে আলোচনা শুরু করে এবং ১লা সেপ্টেম্বর ভোরে প্রথমবার বলশেভিক প্রস্তাব সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠতা লাভ করে। ২৮ শে অগাস্ট রাবোচি পুত-এ অস্বাক্ষরিত একটি সম্পাদকীয় প্রকাশিত হয়েছিল, যা পরে স্তালিন রচনাবলীতে রাখা হয়েছে। এর সঙ্গে কামেনেভের প্রস্তাবের অনেকটাই মিল আছে। তফাৎ হল তীক্ষ্ণতার অভাবে।  আর কামেনেভ সম্ভবত সরকারী ব্যবস্থা সম্পর্কে বেশী পরিচিত ছিলেন বলে আশু দাবীতে এমন কতকগুলি দাবী রেখেছিলেন যা স্তালিনের লেখায় ছিল না। কিন্তু মূল তফাৎ হল, লেখাটা নিয়ে কি করা হল। স্তালিনের সম্পাদকীয়তে লেখকের নামও ছিল না। আর সেটা পত্রিকায় মুদ্রণ ছাড়া কিছু করা হল না। কামেনেভ লড়াইটা নিয়ে গেলেন প্রতিপক্ষ শিবিরে। কিন্তু দুটো দলিলে এত মিল কীভাবে? কামেনেভ কি স্তালিনের সম্পাদকীয় থেকেই ধারণাটা পেয়েছিলেন? না কি স্তালিন কামেনেভের একটা খসড়া আগে পেয়ে সেটাকে প্রকাশ করেছিলেন? এর উত্তর আমাদের জানা নেই। কিন্তু যা জানা আছে তা হল, স্তালিন খোলাখুলি কামেনেভকে সমর্থন করেন নি। তাই যদি প্রাথমিক খসড়া স্তালিনের হয়েও থাকে, তিনি সামনে এসে তার দায়িত্ব নিলেন না।

ফলে সেপ্টেম্বর থেকে ক্রমেই স্তালিনের ভূমিকা সংকুচিত হতে থাকে।  স্তালিন ২৮শে অগাস্ট লিখেছিলেন, কর্নিলভের বর্তমান আক্রমণ সেনাবাহিনীর উপরমহলের চক্রান্তের ধারাবাহিকতা। কয়েকদিন পর তিনি আহবান করলেন, বুর্জোয়া ও জমিদারদের থেকে সরে এসে শ্রমিক ও কৃষকের সরকার গড়ার জন্য।[17] পার্টি যে বিপ্লবী প্রক্রিয়ার নেতৃত্বে এসে বলশেভিক রণনীতির ভিত্তিতে প্রলেতারীয় ক্ষমতা দখলের পথে এগোতে পারে, তার কোনো  স্পষ্ট স্বীকৃতি ছিল না।

১৫ই সেপ্টেম্বর কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির একটি গুরুত্বপূর্ণ সভা হয়। ১২ থেকে ১৪ সেপ্টেম্বরের মধ্যে লেনিন সিদ্ধান্তে পৌঁছেছিলেন যে পরিস্থিতি আবার পাল্টে গেছে, এবং পার্টিকে এবার ক্ষমতা দখলের দিকে এগোতে হবে। এই মর্মে তিনি কেন্দ্রীয় কমি্টি এবং পেত্রোগ্রাদ এবং মস্কো কমিটিকে একটি চিঠি লেখেন। এর পরেই শুধু কেন্দ্রীয় কমি্টিকে আর একটি চিঠি লেখেন।[18] কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির মিনিটস থেকে দেখা যায়, কামেনেভ সরাসরি লেনিনের প্রস্তাবকে বিপজ্জনক মনে করেছিলেন। আর স্তালিন লেনিনকে সরাসরি সমর্থন করেননি। তিনি প্রস্তাব করেন যে ঐ চিঠি পার্টির সব গুরুত্বপূর্ণ কমিটিদের কাছে তাদের মতামতের জন্য পাঠানো হোক। [19]

পরে এমেলিয়ান ইয়ারোস্লাভস্কি দাবী করেছিলেন, স্তালিন এই চিঠিগুলি পার্টির দিশা হিসেবে ব্যবহার করতে চেয়েছিলেন।[20] কিন্তু মিনিটস দেখায়, ইয়ারোস্লাভস্কি যেখানে guidance এর কথা বলেছেন, মিনিটস তা বলে নি, বলেছে নিছক আলোচনার কথা। উপরন্তু, পার্টির মুখপত্রের সম্পাদক হিসেবে স্তালিনের ভূমিকা প্রসঙ্গে রয় মেডভেডেভ দেখাচ্ছেন, পার্টির মুখপত্রে লেনিনের কোনো কোনো লেখা আদৌ মুদ্রিত হল না, কোনোটা কেটেছেঁটে প্রকাশিত হল। মেডভেডেভ লিখেছেন, ঃ “প্রাভদার পক্ষ থেকে এই ব্যবহার, এবং পার্টির উপর মহলে নির্দিষ্ট এক ধরণের “নরমপন্থা” তাঁর [লেনিনের] দিক থেকে গভীর প্রতিবাদের জন্ম দিল; তিনি এমনকি কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটিকে টপকে পার্টির বিভিন্ন সংগঠনের সঙ্গে কথা চালাচালি শুরু করলেন”।[21]

প্রাক পার্লামেন্টঃ

২১শে সেপ্টেম্বর কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির সভায় প্রধান আলোচ্য বিষয় ছিল গণতান্ত্রিক সম্মেলন এবং প্রাক পার্লামেন্টে (যা ছিল আধা মনোনীত একটি সংস্থা) বলশেভিকরা থাকবেন কি না। লেনিন বয়কটের পক্ষে ছিলেন, কিন্তু কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটি এবং গণতান্ত্রিক সম্মেলনে উপস্থিত বলশেভিক প্রতিনিধিদের সভায় কামেনেভ ও রাইকভের প্রস্তাব মেনে ৭৭-৫০ ভোটে প্রাক-পার্লামেন্টে যোগ দেওয়ার সিদ্ধান্ত নেওয়া হয়। দৃঢ়ভাবে বয়কটের পক্ষে বক্তব্য রেখে লেনিনের প্রকাশ্য সমর্থ পেলেন ট্রটস্কী।[22]

এই সময় থেকে কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটিতে ট্রটস্কীর প্রভাব বৃদ্ধি দেখা যায়। ২৩শে সেপ্টেম্বরের সভায় গণতান্ত্রিক সম্মেলন সম্পর্কে ট্রটস্কীর রিপোর্ট গ্রহণ করা হয়। ট্রটস্কী ও সোকোলনিকভকে গণতান্ত্রিক সম্মেলনের একটি কমিশনে বলশেভিক প্রতিনিধি মনোনীত করা হয়। প্রাক-পার্লামেন্টের সভাপতিমন্ডলীতে বলশেভিক সদস্য হিসেবে নাম দেওয়া হয় ট্রটস্কী, কামেনেভ ও রাইকভের। আরো দুটি ক্ষেত্রে তাঁকেই দায়িত্ব দেওয়া হয়।[23] এই দ্রুত উত্থানের এক প্রধান কারণ অবশ্যই ছিল লেখক এবং বক্তা হিসেবে তার দক্ষতা। ২৪ তারিখ কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির সভায় স্থির হয়, পেত্রোগ্রাদ সোভিয়েতের নেতৃত্ব নির্বাচনে ট্রটস্কীকে সভাপতি এবং রাইকভকে সভাপতিমন্ডলীর সদস্য হিসেবে রাখা হবে।[24] আর প্রস্তাবিত দ্বিতীয় সোভিয়েত কংগ্রেসের কাজে সমন্বয়ের দায়িত্ব পড়ল সভের্দলভের উপরে।[25]

৭ই অক্টোবরের কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির সভায় স্থির হয়, ট্রটস্কী, সভের্দলভ ও বুবনভ কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির একটি তথ্য বুরোতে থাকবেন এবং তাঁকে সংগঠিত করবেন, এবং এই বুরোর কাজ হবে প্রতিবিপ্লবের বিরুদ্ধে লড়াই করা।[26]ট্রটস্কী লিখেছেন, বুরোতে স্তালিনের নাম প্রস্তাব করা হয়েছিল, কিন্তু স্তালিন থাকতে চান নি, এবং তিনিই বুবনভের নাম প্রস্তাব করেন।[27]

এই “প্রতিবিপ্লবের বিরুদ্ধে লড়াই” ছিল অভ্যুত্থানের প্রস্তুতির প্রকাশ্য নাম। ট্রটস্কী এবং সভের্দলভের জোট ছিল খুবই ক্ষমতশালী, কারণ একজন ছিলেন পার্টির সবচেয়ে দক্ষ বক্তা ও অন্যতম সংগঠক আর অন্যজন নিঃসন্দেহে পার্টির সবচেয়ে দক্ষ সংগঠক। কমিটির বাইরে থেকে স্তালিন কার্যত ঘটনাপরম্পরা থেকে বিচ্ছিন্ন হয়ে পড়লেন। তবে রাবিনোউইচ প্রশ্ন তুলেছেন, এই কমিটি কতটা কার্যকর ছিল।[28]

১০ই অক্টোবর ও ১৬ই অক্টোবরের কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটি সভাঃ

১০ই অক্টোবর কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির সভায় ১২ জন সদস্য ছিলেন। এই প্রথম আত্মগোপনে থাকা অবস্থায় লেনিন সভায় এলেন। লেনিন, ট্রটস্কী, সভের্দলভ, কামেনেভ, জিনোভিয়েভ, স্তালিন, উরিতস্কি, ঝারঝিনস্কি, কোলোন্তাই, বুবনভ, সোকোলনিকভ, এবং লোমোভ(ওপোকভ) উপস্থিত ছিলেন। লেনিন সশস্ত্র অভ্যুত্থানের পক্ষে বক্তব্য রাখেন। ১০-২ ভোটে যে প্রস্তাব গৃহীত হল, তাতে বলা হল “সশস্ত্র অভ্যুত্থান অনিবার্য স্বীকার করে এবং তার সময় এসেছে স্বীকার করে, কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটি প্রস্তাব করছে যে পার্টির সব সংগঠনকে এই স্বীকৃতি থেকে পরিচালিত হতে হবে, এবং সমস্ত প্রয়োগগত প্রশ্নের সিদ্ধান্ত নিতে হবে এই দৃষ্টিভঙ্গী থেকে...।[29]

এই সভাতে একটি পলিটবুরো নির্বাচিত হয়, যাতে ছিলেন লেনিন, জিনোভিয়েভ, কামেনেভ, ট্রটস্কী, স্তালিন, সোকোলনিকভ ও বুবনভ।  এই পলিটবুরোর সদস্যপদের ভিত্তিতেই পরে স্তালিনের সমর্থকরা দাবী করবেন, স্তালিন অভ্যুত্থানের এক কেন্দ্রীয় নায়ক, বা এমনকি একমাত্র কেন্দ্রীয় নায়ক ছিলেন। কিন্তু এই পলিটবুরো কি আদৌ কাজ করেছিল? কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির মিনিটসে তার কোনো প্রমাণ নেই। বরং আমরা দেখি, লেনিন আবার আত্মগোপন করলেন। জিনোভিয়েভ এবং কামেনেভ অভ্যুত্থানের বিরোধী ছিলেন। জিনোভিয়েভও আত্মগোপন করেন। পলিটবুরো যে একবারও সভা করে কোনো সিদ্ধান্ত নিয়েছিল তার কোনো প্রমাণ নেই।

১০ই এর সভা নীতিগত সিদ্ধান্ত নিলেও সেদিন উপস্থিত ছিলেন খুব কম সদস্য। আসেন নি এমন বেশ কয়েকজন সম্ভবত অভ্যুত্থানের বিরুদ্ধে থাকতেন – রাইকভ, নগিন, মিলিউটিন। ১৬ই যে সভা হল, তাতে কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির সদস্যরা ছাড়াও ছিলেন পিটার্সবুর্গ কমিটির নেতারা, সামরিক সংগঠনের সদস্যরা, পেত্রোগ্রাদ সোভিয়েত, ট্রেড ইউনিয়ন, ফ্যাকটরী কমিটি, পেত্রোগ্রাদ আঞ্চলিক কমিটি, এবং রেল শ্রমিকদের প্রতিনিধিরা। লেনিন প্রথম রিপোর্ট দেন, এবং সভার শেষে তার প্রস্তাব গ্রহণের জন্য প্রবলভাবে লড়াই করেন। তিনি দেখাতে চান, কেবল রাশিয়া নয়, আন্তর্জাতিক পরিস্থিতির আলোকে সিদ্ধান্ত নিতে হবে অভ্যুত্থানের পক্ষে। সেক্রেটারিয়েটের পক্ষে সভের্দলভ বলেন, পার্টির সদস্য সংখ্যা বেড়ে হয়েছে ৪,০০,০০০ বা তার বেশী। তিনি প্রতিবিপ্লবী উদ্যোগের কথাও বলেন। স্তালিন লেনিনের সমর্থনে বক্তব্য রাখেন। ১৯-২ ভোটে, ৪ জন মতদানে বিরত থেকে, অভ্যুত্থানের প্রস্তুতি নেওয়ার সিদ্ধান্ত আবার উচ্চারিত হল। পাঁচ সদস্যের একটি সামরিক কেন্দ্র তৈরী হয়। এতে ছিলেন সভের্দলভ, স্তালিন, বুবনভ, উরিতস্কি ও ঝারঝিনস্কি।[30] কিন্তু এই কমিটি কাজ করবে সোভিয়েতের সামরিক বিপ্লবী কমিটির সঙ্গে, এই সিদ্ধান্ত নেওয়া হয়। স্তালিনের নাম এই কমিটিতে থাকায় এটি নিয়ে অনেক কথা বলা হয়েছে। কিন্তু এই কমিটি কোনো কাজ করেছিল তার দলিল, কারো সমসাময়িক স্মৃতিচারণ, কিছুই নেই। পরে, স্তালিনের সদস্যপদ দেখিয়ে দাবী করা হয়, এই কমিটিই অভ্যুত্থানের আসল কাজ করেছিল। কমিটি সোভিয়েতের সামরিক-বিপ্লবী কমিতির সঙ্গে কাজ করবে, এই কথা বলার অর্থ, সোভিয়েতের সভাপতি হিসেবে ট্রটস্কী ইতিমধ্যেই ঐ কাজের সঙ্গে যুক্ত। সোভিয়েত ইতিহাসবিদ আইজ্যাক মিন্টস দাবী করেছিলেন, পাশ্চাত্য ইতিহাসবিদরা ভুল বুঝেছেন, এবং এই কমিটিগুলিতে সদস্যপদ হল কে কে কোন কাজে রিপোর্ট করবেন তার একটা তালিকা।[31] কিন্তু মিন্টসের যুক্তি মানলেও, বাস্তব ঘটনা হল, এই দুই কমিটিতে থেকে স্তালিন কোনো উল্লেখযোগ্য ভূমিকা পালন করেছিলেন তার প্রমাণ মেলে না।

সামরিক বিপ্লবী কমিটি ও স্তালিনঃ

৯ই অক্টোবর পেত্রোগ্রাদ সোভিয়েতে ট্রটস্কির প্রস্তাবে প্রতিবিপ্লব ঠেকাতে একটি সামরিক-বিপ্লবী কমিটি গঠিত হয়। স্তালিনের এই সময়ের লেখাগুলিতে যে রণনীতি প্রস্তাবিত ছিল, তা হল দেশজুড়ে অভ্যুত্থান। সামরিক-বিপ্লবী কমিটির মাধ্যমে ট্রটস্কী এবং সভের্দলভ যেভাবে রাজধানীতে ক্ষমতা দখলের রণনীতি অনুসরণ করছিলেন, সেটা স্তালিনের কাছে স্পষ্ট ছিল, এমন কোনো প্রমাণ নেই।

ইতিমধ্যে, ১৮ অক্টোবর জিনোভিয়েভ ও কামেনেভ ম্যাক্সিম গোর্কির পত্রিকা নোভায়া ঝিঝন-এ একটি বিবৃতি দিয়ে অভ্যুত্থানের বিরোধিতা করেন। ক্রুদ্ধ লেনিন ১৯শে কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটিকে লেখা চিঠিতে বলেন এঁরা দুজন হলেন ধর্মঘট-ভাঙ্গা দালাল, যাদের পার্টি থেকে বহিষ্কার করা উচিত।[32]একই দিনে জিনোভিয়েভ রাবোচি পুত-এর কাছে একটি চিঠি পাঠান, যাতে তিনি দাবী করেন লেনিন মতভেদকে বাড়িয়ে দেখছেন। তিনি লেখেন, তিনি পেত্রোগ্রাদ সোভিয়েতে ট্রটস্কীর বক্তব্যকে সমর্থন করেন।[33] পেত্রোগ্রাদ সোভিয়েতে ট্রটস্কী জিনোভিয়েভ ও কামেনেভের চিঠির ফলে প্রশ্নের সামনে পড়েছিলেন, যে তিনি কোনো অভ্যুত্থানের পরিকল্পনা করছেন কি না। তিনি বলেন, সোভিয়েতের সিদ্ধান্ত সোভিয়েতের মাধ্যমে স্থির হবে। অর্থাৎ, তিনি পার্টি সম্পর্কে কোনো কথা না বলে এড়িয়ে গেলেন। সোভিয়েতের সভাতেই কামেনেভ, এবং চিঠির মাধ্যমে জিনোভিয়েভ, বিষয়টা গুলিয়ে দিতে চাইলেন, যেন পার্টিও কোনো পরিকল্পনা করে নি।

প্রধান সম্পাদক হিসেবে স্তালিনের দায়িত্ব ছিল, জিনোভিয়েভের বিবৃতি ছাপা হবে কি না সেটা ঠিক করা। তিনি সেটা শুধু ছাপলেন না, অস্বাক্ষরিত সম্পাদকীয় মন্তব্য দিলেন যে জিনোভিয়েভের বিবৃতি এবং সোভিয়েতে কামেনেভের উক্তির ফলে বোঝা যাচ্ছে, মূলগতভাবে সকলে এক মত। [34]  

২০ অক্টোবরের কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটি সভা ছিল উত্তপ্ত। লেনিন তখনও লুকিয়ে। স্তালিনকে প্রকাশ্য সমালোচনা করেন ট্রটস্কী। তিনি বলেন জিনোভিয়েভের চিঠি ছাপা এবং সম্পাদকীয় নোটটি একেবারে গ্রহণযোগ্য নয়। তিনি আরো বলেন, কামেনেভ যে কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটি থেকে ইস্তফা দিতে চাইছেন সেটা নেওয়া হোক।  স্তালিন এর উত্তরে বলেন, কামেনেভ ও জিনোভিয়েভ কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির সিদ্ধান্ত মেনে চলবেন। এই সময়ে সম্পাদকমন্ডলীর অন্য সদস্য সোকোলনিকভ বলেন, জিনোভিয়েভের চিঠি নিয়ে সম্পাদকীয় মন্তব্যে তাঁর হাত ছিল না এবং তিনি মনে করেন মন্তব্যটা ভ্রান্ত। বোঝা গেল, একা স্তালিন ঐ মন্তব্যের জন্য দায়ী। স্তালিন এর ফলে পত্রিকার সম্পাদকের পদ থেকে ইস্তফা দিতে চাইলেন। কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটি তা গ্রহণ করতে অস্বীকার করে।[35] 

কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির মিনিটস থেকে অন্য একটা কথা বোঝা যায়। তা হল, সামরিক-বিপ্লবী কমিটির কাজের প্রতি কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির সদস্যরা সব সময়ে নজর রাখছিলেন না। ফলে সেটার কাজ পুরোটাই ছিল পেত্রোগ্রাদ সোভিয়েতে সক্রিয় পার্টি সদস্যদের হাতেতে। সামরিক বিপ্লবী কমিটির অন্যতম সদস্য লোমোভ পরে স্মৃতিচারণে লেখেন, ২৪শে অক্টোবর সকালে টেলিফোনের শব্দে তার ঘুম ভাঙ্গে। ট্রটস্কী তাঁকে জানান, কেরেনস্কী আক্রমণ শুরু করেছে... আমাদের সকলকে স্মোলনিতে চাই।[36]

২৪শে সকালে কেরেনস্কী ফৌজ পাঠিয়ে বলশেভিকদের দুটি পত্রিকা সোলদাতরাবোচি পুত বন্ধ করে দিতে চায়। হয়ত এই কারণে, স্তালিন, সম্পাদক হিসেবে, নিজের দপ্তরে ছিলেন, স্মোলনিতে যান নি। কিন্তু তার ফলে, এদিন যে দায়িত্বভাগ করা হল তা থেকে তিনি বাদ। কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটি সদস্যরা ছাড়াও, ল্যাশেভিচ, ও ব্ল্যাগোনরাভভকে পিটার ও পল দুর্গের দায়িত্ব দেওয়া হল। বিপ্লব জয়ী হওয়ার জন্য এই দুর্গ দখল খুবই জরুরী ছিল। বিস্ময়ের কথা, কামেনেভ তাঁর সব সংশয় সত্ত্বেও, সেদিন আসেন, এবং বামপন্থী সোশ্যালিস্ট রেভল্যুশনারীদের টেনে আনার দায়িত্ব তাঁর উপরে পড়ে।[37]  

২৪শে অক্টোবরের রাবচি পুতে স্তালিনের লেখা সম্পাদকীয় দেখায়, তিনি তখনও ভাবছিলেন ভবিষ্যতে, সোভিয়েত কংগ্রেস বসার পরে কোনো অভ্যুত্থানের কথা। ঐ দিনই তিনি এবং ট্রটস্কী সোভিয়েত কংগ্রেসে বলশেভিক প্রতিনিধিদের একটি সভায় বক্তৃতা দেন। ঝ্যাকভ নামে এক প্রতিনিধির রেকর্ড, যা পরে প্রলেতারস্কায়া রেভল্যুতসিয়া-তে প্রকাশিত হয়, তা থেকে বোঝা যায়, স্তালিন যে সব খবর পাচ্ছিলেন, তা প্রধানত কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটি সূত্রে, কিন্তু সামরিক-বিপ্লবী কমিটি সূত্রে না।[38] সুতরাং স্তালিন অক্টোবর অভ্যুত্থানের এক মূল নায়ক, এটা কোনো তথ্যের উপরে দাঁড়িয়ে নেই।   


স্পষ্টতই, স্তালিন বলশেভিক দলের অন্যতম নেতৃস্থানীয় সদস্য ছিলেন। কিন্তু তাহলে তিনি কেন অক্টোবর অভ্যুত্থানে গৌণ ভূমিকা পালন করলেন? এটা গুরুত্বপূর্ণ প্রশ্ন হয়েছে তাঁর নিজের ও তার অনুগামীদের ফুলিয়ে ফাঁপিয়ে তোলা দাবির ফলে। স্তালিনই কেন্দ্রীয় ছিলেন, এই গল্প তৈরী করার ফলে নথীগুলি সমস্যা হিসেবে দেখা দিল। স্তালিন যুগের অবসানের পরেও, সোভিয়েত ইতিহাসবিদরা যেহেতু ট্রটস্কীর সম্পর্কে কোনো ইতিবাচক কথা বলতে পারতেন না, তাই অবাস্তব এবং অনৈতিহাসিক কথাই বলে যেতে হত – হয় স্তালিনের, নয় লেনিনের ভূমিকা নিয়ে। বাস্তবে সভের্দলভ-ট্রটস্কী সমন্বয়ে যে রণকৌশল অবলম্বন করা হয়, তা লেনিন প্রস্তাবিত দেশজোড়া অভ্যুত্থান নয়, রাজধানীতে সেনাবাহিনী ও শ্রমিকদের সংহত করে ক্ষমতা দখল। এই প্রক্রিয়াতে স্তালিনের অনুপস্থিতির দুটি কারণের কথা বলা যায়। একটি হল কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটিতে গভীর দ্বন্দ্ব এবং লেনিন প্রায় শেষ সময় পর্যন্ত আত্মগোপন করতে বাধ্য হওয়া। কেন্দ্রীয় কমিটির এই ভাঙ্গাচোরা অবস্থার ফলেই সামরিক বিপ্লবী কমিটি ও পার্টির সামরিক সংগঠনের ভূমিকা কেন্দ্রীয় হয়ে পড়েছিল। এইখনে দ্বিতীয় উপাদান আসে -- সামরিক বিপ্লবী কমিটিতে স্তালিনের অনুপস্থিতি, এবং পার্টির সামরিক সংগঠনের সঙ্গে অগাস্ট থেকে তাঁর খারাপ সম্পর্ক, যার ফলে বাস্তব কাজের থেকে তিনি বিচ্ছিন্ন ছিলেন।

[1]Isaac Deutscher, Stalin: A Political Biography, Oxford University Press, Oxford etc, 1967, p

[2] “On October 16 an enlarged meeting of the Central Committee of the Party was held. This meeting elected a Party Centre, headed by Comrade Stalin, to direct the uprising. This Party Centre was the leading core of the Revolutionary Military Committee of the Petrograd Soviet and had practical direction of the whole uprising”.   Central Committee of the CPSU (B), History of the CPSU(B)-Short Course, International Publishers, New York, 1939, p. 206.

[3] Shestoi s”ezd RSDRP (bol’shevikov) Avgust 1917 goda: protokoly, Moscow, Gospolitizdat, 1958, p.252.

[4]যে নামগুলি বাদ পড়ে তা হল জিনোভিয়েভ, কামেনেভ, ট্রটস্কী, বুখারিন, ক্রেস্টিনস্কি, মিলিউটিন, রাইকভ, স্মিলগা, সোকোলনিকভ, এবং প্রার্থী সদস্য ইয়ফ, লোমোভ, প্রিয়ব্রাজেনস্কি, ও ইয়াকভলেভার নাম। 

[5]L. Trotsky, Stalin: An Appraisal of the Man and His Influence, Wellred Books, London, pp. 283-84. এই বইটি হার্ভার্ডের ট্রটস্কী আর্কাইভস থেকে ট্রটস্কীর খসড়া দেখে, এবং বার্নার্ড মালামুড অনুবাদ ও “সম্পাদনার” নামে নিজের যে সব মতামত ঢুকিয়েছিলেন সেগুলি বাদ দিয়ে নতুন করে তৈরী এক সংস্করণ।recovered from the Trotsky archives and  put in.

[6]Ann Bone, tr The Bolsheviks and the October Revolution: Minutes of the Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks), August 1917- February 1918, with additional notes by Tony Cliff, Pluto press, 1974, p. 9.

[7] Ann Bone, tr The Bolsheviks and the October Revolution, p. 12;Adam Ulam, Stalin: The Man and His Era, New York, Viking Press, 1973, p.150.

[8] p.19

[9] p.26

[10] p. 30

[11] J. Stalin, Works, vol3,Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953, pp.215-20.

[12]Works, Vol. 3, p. 279.

[13] V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, vol. 25, Moscow, Progress Publishers, pp. 249-50;L. Trotsky, ‘With Blood and Iron’, Proletarii, No.5,

[14] V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, vol. 25, pp. 286-289.

[15]Ann Bone, tr The Bolsheviks and the October Revolution, pp. 42-43.

[16] p. 42

[17]Works, Vol. 3, p. 278, 288.

[18] V. I. Lenin, ‘The Bolsheviks Must Seize Power’, Ann Bone, tr The Bolsheviks and the October Revolution, pp. 58-60; ‘Marxism and the Insurrection’, pp. 60-65.

[19] Ann Bone, tr The Bolsheviks and the October Revolution, p. 58.

[20] E. Yaroslavsky, Landmarks in the Life of Stalin, Moscow, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1940, p. 102.

[21] Roy A. Medvedev, Let History Judge, New York, Knopf, 1971, p. 10.

[22] p. 67 এবং লেনিনের বক্তব্যের জন্য p. 278.

[23] pp. 68-69.

[24]p. 71

[25] p. 72

[26]p. 81

[27]L. Trotsky, Stalin: An Appraisal of the Man and His Influence, p. 290.

[28]A Rabinowitch, The Bolsheviks Come to Power: The Revolution of 1917 in Petrograd, New York, Norton, 1976, p. 201

[29]Ann Bone, tr The Bolsheviks and the October Revolution, p. 88

[30]  pp. 96-109.

[31]I.I. Mints, Istoriia Velikogo Oktiabria v trekh tomakh, 3 vols, Moscow, Izdatel’stvo “Nauka”, 1968m vol2, p. 1007.

[32]Ann Bone, tr The Bolsheviks and the October Revolution, pp. 116-120.

[33] p. 120


[35] pp. 110-113

[36] A Rabinowitch, The Bolsheviks Come to Power:p. 249.

[37] Ann Bone, tr The Bolsheviks and the October Revolution, p.126

[38] উদ্ধৃত, Robert M. Slusser, Stalin in October: The Man Who Missed the Revolution, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London, 1987, pp. 243-4.

Belgium’s colonial crimes in the Congo. A duty to remember

Thanks to the Black Lives Matter mobilizations against racism in general, and racism against black people in particular, becoming an international phenomenon more and more people are seeking to know the truth about the dark past of the colonial powers and the continuation of neo-colonialism up to the present times. Statues of emblematic figures of European colonialism are being debunked or are the subject of salutary denunciations. The same is true of statues of people who in the United States symbolize slavery and racism. The CADTM welcomes all initiatives and actions that aim to denounce colonial crimes, seek to establish the truth about past atrocities, highlight the instruments of neo-colonialism and all forms of resistance from the past to the present. We are republishing here a text by Eric Toussaint which was used in 2007 as a presentation to a conference and then as a preface to a book entitled Promenade au Congo : petit guide anticolonial de Belgique published in 2010, now out of print.

Historical context of the colonization of the Congo

At the end of the 18th century, over a hundred years before the Congo was colonized by Leopold II, the thirteen British colonies in North America, were liberated from the British crown after fighting a war of independence. As a result the United States of America was created in 1776. In other parts of the globe such as South-East Asia and India the British Empire reinforced its colonial grip, which it maintained into the middle of the 20th century (see The Dutch reinforced their domination over Indonesia. Liberation movements were not limited to recently arrived colonists of European stock. The courageous people of Haiti, direct descendants from Africans, won their independence from French domination in 1804. Over the following twenty years Latin America went through a phase of wars of independence led by revolutionaries such as Simon Bolivar, who succeeded in defeating the Spanish troops who were dominating much of the continent.

At that time Sub-Saharan Africa was hardly colonized by the Europeans even if it was subjected to the effects of the colonizations on the other continents, being the principal victim of the Triangular trade and slave transportation. Between the 17th century and the middle of the 19th century tens of millions of Africans were pressed into slavery and transported to the Americas.

It was in the last quarter of the 19th century that Sub-Saharan Africa fell under the boot of European colonization: mainly British, French, German, Portuguese and in the case of the Congo, Belgian.

Léopold II, second King of the Belgians wanted his country to have a colony too

When Leopold II came to the throne of Belgium in 1865 he wanted his country to have a colony too, just like the others. Before becoming King, Léopold II had seen how colonialism worked in many regions: in Ceylon, India, Burma, Indonesia and he had particularly liked how it was done in Java, Indonesia by the Dutch, this became his guiding example, an example based on forced labour.

He had considered colonizing a part of Argentina and then looked at the Philippines but the price that Spain asked was too high. Finally he decided to get holdof the Congo basin. To do this he had to be crafty so as to avoid conflict with the other European powers that were already present in the area and might not favourably view a new arrival wanting a piece of the cake.

In the 19th century the Europeans justified their colonial policies with arguments of Christianizing the pagans, introducing free trade (still a current discourse) and in Sub-Saharan Africa, putting an end to the Arabs’ slave trade.

“To open up to civilisation the last remaining region of the globe where it has yet to penetrate, to throw back the shadows still enveloping entire populations, is, I dare to say, a crusade worthy of this century of progress”.
Léopold II, King of the Belgians

In 1876, Leopold II organized in Brussels an International Geographical Conference with an objective that was quite coherent with the spirit of the time “To open up to civilization the last remaining region of the globe where it has yet to penetrate, to throw back the shadows still enveloping entire populations, is, I dare to say, a crusade worthy of this century of progress (…) It seems to me that Belgium, a central and neutral state, would be the right place to hold this reunion (…) Must I reassure you that when I called you all here to Brussels I was not motivated by Selfishness? No, gentlemen, Belgium may be a small country but it is happy and contented with her condition: my sole ambition is to serve it well”. He goes on to explain to the great explorers that he had gathered there that the objective of the International Geographical Conference was to build roads to reach the hinterlands, and to set up pacifying medical and scientific stations which would be the means of abolishing slavery and of creating harmony between Chiefs as they brought just and unbiased arbitration. That was the official discourse

Shortly afterwards he engaged the British explorer Henry Morton Stanley, who had just crossed Africa from East to West by following the Congo River to its estuary / embouchure.

The Berlin conference and the creation of the Congo Free State (CFS)

In 1885 at the Berlin conference, after much diplomatic manoeuvring, Léopold II obtained authorization to create an independent Congolese State which became known as the Congo Free State. In his closing speech to the conference Chancellor Bismark said “The new state of the Congo will one day be a prime example of what we wish to achieve, and I express my deepest wishes for its rapid development and the realisation of the noble desires of its illustrious creator”.

“The new state of the Congo will one day be a prime example of what we wish to achieve”.
Bismark, Chancellor of the German Empire

Although he gave great speeches in great conferences Léopold II had a very different discourse elsewhere: in documents he sent to his delegates in CFS whose task was to extract the profits, or his declarations to the press. For example, in an interview with Leopold II which appeared in the New York paper Publisher’s Press on 11 December 1906 – twenty years after the Berlin conference - he said “When dealing with a race made up of cannibals for thousands of years, it is necessary to use methods that shake their laziness and make them understand the healthy aspects of work”.

“When dealing with a race made up of cannibals for thousands of years, it is necessary to use methods that shake their laziness”.
Léopold II, roi des Belges

As from the moment in 1885 when Leopold II could create from nothing the Congo Free State as his own personal state he issued a first decree that declared all unexploited land as state property. He grabbed the land even though the reason for creating the CFS was to allow the chiefs to enter into agreements and to defend themselves against the Arab slave traders. With Stanley’s help, he passed a series of treaties with Congolese tribal chieftains by which the lands of their villages and of their territories came under the control of the head of State of CFS, Leopold II. Other lands, which were immense territories, were declared vacant and so also became the property of the CFS

The Javanese model as applied by Belgium’s Leopold II in the Congo

At this point Leopold II used the model applied by the Low Countries in Java to his country’s exploitation of the Congo: he systematically exploited the population, succeeding in dominating it particularly thanks to the creation of the ‘Force Publique’, requiring of said population the harvesting of latex (natural rubber), elephant tusks, and provision of the necessary food supplies to the colonizers. The king granted himself a monopoly on almost all Congolese activities and sources of wealth. His model involved harvesting a maximum of the Congo’s natural resources by strategies which have nothing in common with modern methods of industrial production. Indeed, the agenda compelled the Congolese population to harvest latex to fulfil a certain quota per capita, and to hunt in order to gather enormous quantities of elephant tusks. Leopold II maintained a colonial force with an army mainly consisting of Congolese but with Belgian officers, in order to impose respect for the colonial order and for the obligatory supply systems. He made systematic use of horrifyingly brutal methods. So much rubber was required per head. In order to compel village chiefs and other men to go and harvest, their women were imprisoned in concentration camps, where, regularly, they were sexually abused by colonists or by Congolese from the Force Publique. If the required results and quantities were not reached, people were killed ‘as an example’, or mutilated. Photographs from that era show the victims of such mutilations, and these photographs reveal a specific purpose. Force Publique soldiers had to prove that every cartridge had been used appropriately, and cutting hands was done with machetes and did not require shooting.

The vision and the political strategy of Leopold II, king of the Belgians, representative of the country’s and of the people’s interests, were illustrative of a colonialist approach of extreme brutality. Moreover, on the subject of this policy, he states, To claim that all white-generated production in the country must be spent only in Africa and in order to generate profit for the blacks is pure heresy, an injustice, an error which, if actually implemented, would bring to a standstill the march of civilization in the Congo. The State, which could only have become a State with the active support of the whites, must be useful to the two races and allocate to each its fair share.
Clearly, the share for the Congolese is forced labour, the leather whip and severed hands.

“To claim that all white-generated production in the country must be spent only in Africa and in order to generate profit for the blacks is pure heresy”, Leopold II

On the subject of unrestrained exploitation of natural rubber resources, I shall only mention a few figures: rubber harvesting begins in 1893, and is linked to the demand for tyres by the early automotive industry and the development of the bicycle. Production figures show 33,000 kilos of rubber in 1895; 50,000 kilos in 1896; 278,000 kilos in 1897; 508,000 kilos in 1898… Such huge harvests generated huge benefits for private companies created by Leopold II, who was also their main shareholder, to manage the exploitation of the Congo Free State. The price of a kilo of rubber at the mouth of the Congo River is 60 times less than the market price in Belgium. One is reminded of the current issue of the price of diamonds or coltan (columbite-tantalum) mined today.

The international campaign against the crimes committed in the Congo by Leopold II of Belgium

This policy eventually triggered an enormous international campaign against the crimes perpetrated by the regime of Leopold II. Black pastors in the United States were protesting against this situation, then were joined by British activist E.D. Morel. Morel worked for a British company in Liverpool, and was regularly called on to travel to Antwerp. He observed that while Leopold II claimed that Belgium was undertaking commercial exchanges with the Congo Free State, ships were returning from the Congo with cargoes of elephant tusks and thousands of kilos of rubber, and the return cargoes were mainly arms and foodstuffs for the colonial forces. Morel considered this to be a very strange kind of trade, a strange kind of exchange. At the time, those Belgians supporting Leopold II never acknowledged this truth. They declared that Morel represented the interests of British imperialism and only criticized the Belgians in order to take their place. Paul Janson, a member of parliament who gave his name to the main auditorium of the Free University of Brussels, declared, I shall never criticize the actions of Leopold, because those who criticize him, especially the British, do so only in the spirit of ‘move over and make room for us’.

However, criticism grew, with books such as Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and The Crime of the Congo, a too-little known work by Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. An international campaign against the exploitation of the Congo generated demonstrations in the United States and also in Great Britain, finally producing results. Leopold found himself obliged to set up an international commission of enquiry in 1904, which met on the spot, in the Congo, to take evidence. The testimonies received there are overwhelming. They are available in manuscript form in the Belgian state archives.

We now have a duty to remember the crimes against humanity committed in the Congo

During the last twenty years, many conferences have been held and books published to denounce the type of state established in the Congo by Leopold II, King of Belgium. In short, an ample corpus of serious literature has now been added to the documentation of the period.

From this we learn, for example, that the portion of the Congo Free State’s budget destined to cover military expenses varied, year in, year out, between 38% and 49% of total expenditure. This demonstrates the importance of the leather whip, the importance of modern guns in establishing a dictatorship making systematic use of the weapons of brutality and assassination….

One may consider it a certainty that the King of the Belgians, and the Congo Free State, which he ran with the agreement of the Belgian government and parliament of the time, are responsible for ‘crimes against humanity’ deliberately committed. These crimes are not blunders, they are the direct result of the type of exploitation to which the Congolese population was subjected. Some prominent authors have spoken of ‘genocide’. I propose not to create a debate focused on this issue because it is difficult to agree on figures. Some serious authors estimate the Congolese population in 1885 to have been around 20 million, and write that in 1908 when Leopold II transferred the Congo to Belgium, thus creating the Belgian Congo, there remained 10 million Congolese. These estimates by reputable authors are, however, difficult to verify in the absence of a population census.

… it is certain that Leopold II, King of the Belgians, is responsible for ‘crimes against humanity,’ deliberately committed

Whether Leopold’s colonial activity resulted in millions or in tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent victims, it would not change the fact that this was a case of crimes against humanity, and this is fundamental to re-establish the historical truth. Citizens, and notably the young, entering the town hall in the city of Liège, or going from the rue du Trône to the place Royale in Brussels, pass a plaque saluting the work of colonization, or pass by the equestrian statue of Leopold II. Citizens pass the statue of Leopold II erected on the Ostend sea-front. They see a majestic Leopold II with, at a lower level, grateful Congolese extending their grateful hands towards him. The only commentary there commemorates the civilizing role of Leopold in the liberation of the Congolese from the slave trade… It is urgent to re-establish historical truth, to stop telling lies to our children, stop lying to Belgian citizens, stop insulting the memory of the victims, and of their descendants, and of those descendants of the Congolese who were subjected in body and in spirit to truly terrible domination.

This duty of remembrance must be undertaken elsewhere too. Let’s avoid any debate along the lines of ‘All you do is criticize Belgium and say nothing about what’s going on in other places’. Indeed the wider context is mentioned at the beginning of this paper: Britain dominated South Asia with extreme brutality ; the Low Countries dominated the populations of Indonesia with great violence; before that, three-quarters of the population of what was then called ‘the Americas’ had been exterminated and, in the Caribbean, around 100% in the course of the 16th and 17th century. The Belgian state certainly has no monopoly on brutality, but we are in Belgium and for us Belgian citizens, along with our Congolese friends, and with nationals from other countries now living in Belgium, it is fundamental that we not forget, and that we restore the historic truth.

Translated by Kate Armstrong, Mike Krolikowski and Christine Pagnoulle.

Source CADTM->].


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Covid-19, Citizenship Amendment Act and the End of Indian Democracy

We publish below an article by Murzban Jal. He has been a regular contributor. We hope others will send their views on the artice and it will stimulate a debate.-- Administrator


By Murzban Jal




Covid-19, it seems, has come as a blessing for the capitalist politicians. While threats, even when being shot by fascist goons did not frighten the rebellious crowds asking that the  Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) be repealed because of its obvious communal colour, Covid-19 has somehow almost like magic made the crowds disappear. For the world, especially for the imperialist group of nations while Covid-19 is seen inexorably woven with the world economic crises—the crisis demanded that a lockdown of industries take place—for the Indian elites it is related directly to the Citizenship Amendment Act—to drive the crowds from the streets. What one must do is talk less of Covid-19 and talk more of the world capitalist crisis and the Citizenship Amendment Act. Not relating these would lead to tragedy. 

While a dominant view says that India is now under the tutelage of authoritarianism and fascism where a terrible form of tragedy is scripted on its bare chest, a deeper view while agreeing that fascism is a terrible form of tragedy says that it is liberalism which lies behind fascism and that because of the seeds sown by the liberalism with its free market economy one cannot confront fascism. Let us turn to Ambedkar for instance who in his ‘Reply to the Mahatma’ an extension of his Annihilation of Castesaid:


We are indeed witness to a great tragedy.[1]


What was the tragedy for Ambedkar? The tragedy was that while the Indian liberal elites instead of confronting hierarchies and inequalities simply insisted in remaining silent on these. It is this very silence of the liberals which the fascists have converted into cacophony. With the December 2019 Citizen’s Amendment Act passed in the Rajya Sabha, it seems that the tragedy that Ambedkar had warned of has indeed come.While December 2019 was the moment of the triumph of the Hindutva right-wing, Ambedkar was focused on not merely the right-wing, but on Gandhi, the liberal democrats and the Hindu reformists and their method and style of social and political leadership. According to this radical Ambedkarite perspective it was because of certain necessary reforms that Indian society was to unable to execute that the specter of fascism has risen.

It is in this sense that we recall Slavoj Zizek’s use of Walter Benjamin’s phrase “behind every fascism, there is a failed revolution”, a phrase which is apt in understanding the rise of the BJP in power, especially with the Citizenship Amendment Bill passed in the Indian parliament. What is the crux of this Act? Supporters of this Act claim is that it is nothing but an act of benevolence and those (i.e. everyone but Muslims and Jews) suffering from religious persecution would be given Indian citizenship. They say that this merely follows the Citizenship Act of 1955 and the 1985 amendment after the Assam Accord followed by other amendments in 1992, 2003, 2005 and 2015. These same supporters claim that the 2003 amendment was supported by both the Congress party and the CPI(M). So why the fuse now? The answer which the right-wing gives is that the Congress and the Left have now been seduced by extreme left-wing ideas and in a terrible fit of jealousy want to bring in god’s own appointed government down. 

A closer inspection finds something else. What the Hindytva government wants to do is to not only radically transform citizenship, but to destroy the very idea of citizenship. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) which they want to make is not going to abide by the ideology of democracy and civic nationalism, but by the fascist idea of nationhood where V.D. Savarkar’s notorious twins of “fatherland” and “holy land” will guide who is to be defined by the term “Indian”.

That this almost reflects the spirit of the Nazi Nuremberg Laws of 1935 must be spelt out. Let is turn to this to see how the Nazi turn is taking in Indian politics. On 15th September 1935 the Nazis passed the Law for the protection of German Blood and German Honour followed on 14th November by the Reich Citizenship Law. These were preceded by the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Services of 7th April 1933. That unlike almost all political parties the RSS was founded on the racial and fascist idea of “Race Spirit”. In fact it must be mentioned that no political party except the BJP follows this outdated eugenic idea borrowed from Western Europe. According to this ideology the people of the world are divided into “races”, the imagined Aryan race being the most superior. And since Jews and Muslims did not it in the spirit of the imagined Aryans these so-called races had to be exterminated. The Nazis did this with terrible consequences. Consider this foundational document of the Indian fascists:


The foreign races in Hindustan must either adopt Hindu culture and language, must hold to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu religion and lose their separate existence, to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment—not even citizen’s rights.[2] 


To understand how the fascist idea of who is an Indian and how those who cannot be defined as “Indian” would be expelled from the country, let us consider two statements of Indian fascism. The first is from We Or Our Nation Defined where Golwalkar said: “Race is the body of the nation, and that with its fall, the nation, ceases to exist.” and the second from Savarkar’s Hindu Rashtra Darshan who said that “Nazism provided undeniably the savior of Germany”. The point that one needs to highlight is that Nazism was and is yet the basic ideological model of the Indian fascists. It guided the ideas of Savarkar and Golwalkar.

Here one must point out that the fascist ideas of who an Indian is and the secular idea are both radically different. Also it must be noted that for the Indian fascists right from 1922 it is the idea of “Race Spirit” which guides their ideology and action. And what is this “Race Spirit”? It is the nothing but the “Caste Spirit” expressed as “Aryan Race Spirit”. It is thus that we ask: “What did this fictitious “Race spirit” now drunk on the Aryan-Hindu fantasy talk of?” It talks of the “Hindu nation” based on the imagined “Hindu race”. Now it is well known that it was Savarkar’s Essentials of Hindutva where Hindutva was invented as a racial category where the categories “Hinduness”, and “Hindudom” were created borrowed totally from European feudalism’s idea of “Christendom”.  That is why it is important to say that these ideas of “Hinduness”, and “Hindudom” came into the lexicon the Indian fascist movement from fascist Europe. The problem with the Indian fascists who want to prove that they are the only true and authentic Indians, is that almost all their ideas are borrowed by from the ideological cranium of the 19th and 20th century European right-wing. That is why we say that iIn no way can one claim that the idea of Hindutva is indigenous to Indian civilization. If the brutal form emerged from European fascism, the early Romantic version, especially as found in the works of Novalis and Friedrich Schlegel. Consider Novalis’s 1799 work Christianity or Europe:


Those were beautiful, magnificent times, when Europe was a Christian land, when one Christianity dwelled on this civilized continent, and when one common interest joined the most distant provinces of this vast spiritual empire without great worldly possessions one sovereign governed and unified the great political force. Immediately under him stood one enormous guild, open to all, executing his every wish and zealously striving to consolidated his beneficent power. Every member of this society was honored everywhere. If the common people sought from their clergyman comfort or help, protection or advice, gladly caring for his various needs in return, he also gained protection, respect and audience from his superiors. Everyone saw these elect men, armed with miraculous powers, as the children of heaven, whose mere presence and affection dispensed all kinds of blessings. Childlike faith bound the people to their teachings. How happily everyone could complete their earthly labors, since these holy men had safeguarded them a future life, forgave every sin, explained and erased every blackspot in this life. They were the experienced pilots on the great uncharted seas, in whose shelter one could scorn all storms, and whom one could trust to reach and land safely on the shores of the real paternal world.The wildest and most voracious appetites had to yield with honor and obedience to their words. Peace emanated from them. They preached nothing but love for the holy, beautiful lady of Christianity who, endowed with divine power, was ready to rescue every believer from the most terrible dangers.[3]

But it is important to note that Savarkar was no romanticist. What Savarkar did was that he took the Romantic idea of nationalism bereft of its modern and aesthetical sensibility. Thus while Savarkar’s work smacks of the unacknowledged borrowings from Novalis and Schlegel on the Romantic idea of nationalism, he most certainly cannot be compared to either of them. For Novalis and Schlegel the ideas of beauty and liberty stood central to their works. For them the political state had to be formed around the idea of beauty. The European Romantics wanted a unity of politics, identity and religion. Savarkar created the absolute identity between politics and racial-religion. What he did was that merely politicized in the right-wing sense, religious prejudices, and transformed these into the ideology of racial superiority.  But what he primarily did was he feudalized Indian nationhood—in fact feudalized it in a very Catholic Church type (and thus papal type) borrowed from feudal Europe. Thus what he did was transform feudal Europe’s idea of Christendom into the idea of Hindudom. Strictly speaking Hindudom is a total fiction. It has never existed, just as no “Hindu Church” ever existed. Savarkar continuously talked in Essentials of Hindutva of a “Buddhist Church”.  What Savarkar did was that he created a fantasy of “Hindutva” borrowed totally from the lens of feudal Europe. What Golwalkar and the RSS did was transform this fantasy into a phantasmagoria. Hindutva since Golwalkar was possessed by the spirits of the long dead. And just as commodities seized by these spirits (as in Marx’s Capital) began to dance, so too Hindutva since the late 1930s did their ghostly dancing. See one concrete fascistic ghost dancing:


Hinduism, once, used to extend over what is now Afghanistan, over Java, over Cambodia. Powerful Hindu India could reconquer these lands and give them back the pride of their Indian civilization. She could make Greater India once more a cultural reality, and a political one too….She could teach the fallen Aryans  of the West the meaning of their forgotten paganism; she could rebuild the cults of Nature, the cults of Youth and Strength, wherever they have been destroyed; she could achieve on a world-scale what Emperor Julian tried to do. And the victorious Hindus could erect a statue to Julian, somewhere in conquered Europe, on the border of the sea; a statue with an inscription, both in Sanskrit and in Greek: What thou hast dreamt, we have achieved.[4]


It must be noted that the above quote indicates imperialist ideas of Indian nationhood. For the Indian fascists, for its very existence, one must expand one’s national territories. The Nazis had talked of Lebensraum or “living space”. What one needs to do is to relate these imperialist fantasies with the modern idea of democracy where the ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity would guide citizenship. One should also emphasize how Ambedkar repeatedly claimed that this triad of democracy was not possible under Hinduism and that nationalism built on the idea of Hindutva would be disastrous.  If authentic democracy was not possible under Hinduism, under Hindutva the democratic ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity would soon be transformed into the fascist reality of infantry, artillery and cavalry.

            What one needs to emphasize is that the bourgeois state in its liberal stage claimed to be fascinated by liberty, though in actuality would not do anything about this.  Now in its fascist stage it is infantry, artillery and cavalry that would fascinate the bourgeois state. Once upon a time, the Indian liberals heralded the welfare state; now under the guidance of the Washington Consensus and the Breton Woods system of monetary management the fascist descendents of the liberals now unleash the warfare state that is being ready for not only external wars but basically civil war against Indian citizens.  And in this terrible evolution from liberty to artillery, the liberals would be dumbfounded. This is because their own aims of creating a welfare state, they could only preach and never practice. It is also because the Indian liberals were scared to even implement the basics of the programme of the Indian freedom movement. They thought that they would take refuge in the state, instead of going to the masses. But the Home Minister Amit Shah under whose personal supervision the CAA has been enacted will not allow them refuge in the state. This is because he wants to create a exodus of refugees fleeing the nation. For him “Hindu Raj” is the final goal. The CAA and the NRC is the final solution.   

“If Hindu Raj becomes a fact”, so Ambedkar so famously said then “it will, no doubt, be the greatest calamity for this country”.[5] The problem is that Hindu raj has become a reality and we are without doubts facing calamity. Why is this calamity? It is calamity because democracy which the people of India so hard fought has now been out on the altar of the destruction of reason and humanity.

            That is why we say that the Citizen’s Amendment Act is a mere ruse which in actuality is the Constitution Amendment Act or the Destruction of Constitution Act. The core of the Indian Constitution is the assertion of democracy especially the principles of equality, liberty and fraternity. And without doubts it has been the genius of Ambedkar to reflect these principles as well as to synthesize these. Now it is well known that equality and liberty have been having a tense relation and both the liberals and the 20th century socialists could not harmonize these.

            Etienne Balibar Masses, Classes, Ideas mentions this tension and says that one needs to invent the idea of “equa-liberty”.[6]  And it was Ambedkar who in his States and Minorities (some would say that this fantastic document is the philosophical basis if the Indian Constitution). Suspension of this radical idea of democracy where human freedom is its essence is that of the imagined “Race Spirit” searching for war with other imagined races. What this Act will do is that it will absolutely destroy the very idea of citizenship and bring in the idea of caste and re-order the caste system in new fascist lines. This is what caste looked like earlier:  



1.      Caste looked like enclosed class reified as a closed clan system with its parasitical bureaucratic system with its “clannish aloofness”.[7]  It is an “enclosed class” (from Ambedkar’s Castes in India) and as “warring gangs” (from his Annihilation of Caste). And as “warring gangs” and also as “semi-barbarian, semi-civilized communities” (to recall Marx)[8], the caste system manifests itself as a clan system, creating the structures of extreme hierarchy and the ideology of rank worship. Rank worship is the essence of the caste system. The totem of purity and the taboo of pollution rule its ideological guidelines, whilst economic and cultural stagnation are its two main pillars. The entire system of caste is based on “gradation of castes forming an ascending scale of reverence and a descending scale of contempt”[9]. What is important is that in this site of closure and hierarchy one heralds the principles of graded inequality (where various labouring- subaltern castes are unable to recognize their exploiter, but are themselves graded within themselves unequally) and division of labourers (where within the proletariat class  there is a marked internal division based on the ideology of caste-hierarchy)—which are recognized as the main markers of caste society—now are mobilized by fascism. Fascist politics perfects these principles of graded inequality and division of labourers. But it also perfects the principle of the castrated male who is bent on creating riots and wars.

2.        The second site is that caste appears as a form of racism, albeit of the South Asian variety, where the upper castes are understood as being of higher biological stock and the lower ones considered as inferior. For the India right-wing, this idea of caste as race forms the leitmotiv of its fascist politics. Both V.D. Savarkar and M.S. Golwalkar leaders of the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS respectively based their right-wing politics on the idea of race and racial superiority. What we get now is the castrated male suffering from a form of racial superiority. I thereby claim that not only is it a peculiar system of class—or reified and ossified classes based on the ontology of segregation—but it is also equivalent to race in the South Asian sense. “Varna”, one must insist, means “colour”, and social classifications and stratification are according to race-inspired markers. Whether varna, as it appeared in Vedic literature, implied the ‘race’ perception of the early Vedic Indo-Iranian warrior tribes’ disdain for the dark skinned dasas and mlecchas of the Gangentic plain is debatable. But with the fusion of the Vedic fetishes with the fascist imagination since the 1920s the cocktail that we are making is only going to be a deadly one. As I said earlier on the Nazis were fond of Vedic literature, Himmler (as we noted earlier) was an avid reader of early Hinduism and had with him a leather bound version of the Gita. Caste, as we know it, has to be seen as a form of racism and casteism and its contemporary incarnation of communal form of racism. And that is why we insist again that casteism (at least in its modern bourgeois avtar) is equivalent to racism. And it is in this double-bind of class and race that we re-imagine caste and its process of its economic base of stratification, clannishness and fragmentation; and its ideological superstructure of superstition and rituals, whereby the upper caste elites govern through this very strange type of power and control. And if one wants to understand the basic classes in India, if one has to re-imagine the proletariat, one has to actively confront this very strange and uncanny apparatus. The uncanny (das Unheimlich), as we know from Freud is the feeling of dread and terror (1990). And since the fascist RSS has classified the Muslims in the same caste-like hierarchical manner, the importance of understanding and annihilating this uncanny and dreadful system is of extreme importance. 

3.      The last site is of neurosis-psychosis which creates cultural and political schizophrenia and the creation of the ideology of neurosis-psychosis and cultural and political schizophrenia. This form of cultural illness and the ideological superstructure which caste creates is unable to generate critical thinking and a democratic culture. The main thing that this new form of cultural illness does is that it breeds the contempt of other social groups. The creation of authoritarian fascist politics is an essential part of neurosis-psychosis. I am here bringing in the psychoanalytic concepts of neurosis and psychosis and then I am claiming that in late capitalism, neurosis (as the eternal recurrence of the self-same trauma) and psychosis (as the complete withdrawal from reality) reaches a new stage that I call “neurosis-psychosis”. In early capitalism neurosis and psychosis were separate phenomena. In late capitalism dictated by finance capitalism, we see a new stage of mental illness called “neurosis-psychosis”. Caste in this age of late capitalism perfects this strange phenomena called “neurosis-psychosis”. Like the neurotic return of the self-same trauma, caste is negated only to return once again. Marx’s celebrated statement that the Indian “self-sufficient communities that constantly reproduce themselves in the same form, and when accidently destroyed, spring up again on the spot and with the same name”[10] is understood in this neurotic understanding of caste. The idea of the caste system as “a sort of equilibrium, resulting from a general repulsion and constitutional exclusiveness, resulting between all its members”[11] fits in Marx’s theory of alienation, whilst the idea of the “wild aimless, unbounded forces of destruction”[12], fits in the theory of “neurosis-psychosis”.


Now with the state shedding of all pretensions of democracy and taking lines of fascist exclusion with their detention camps and attacks on universities it will take a form which would be totally disastrous. One will have to act and not pretend that nothing will happen. It is in this sense that we recall Martin Niemoller’s anti-fascist poem that he wrote in Nazi Germany, First they Came….:

First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

One should learn from history. When in 1918 a distant parent of Covid-19 entered the scene of history calling itself the “Spanish flu”, the Bolsheviks did not go along with the liberals and proto-fascists saving so-called “humanity” from this dreaded flu. It is very simple. Flu, like sickness in general, is woven in the belly of the capitalist mode of production. When the patient Monsieur Capital is terminally sick, and in this sickness creates riots, wars and diseases, there is no use sanitizing ourselves, washing our hands endlessly, wishing that this terrible Monsieur does not come close to us.  For Monsieur Capital is not merely close to all of us, he is sitting on our heads, his hands are in our pockets and if we do not throw Monsieur Capital away, he will go beyond sitting on our heads with his hands merely in our pockets.  


[1]B.R. Ambedkar, ‘Reply to the Mahatma’, in The Essential Writings of B.R. Ambedkar, ed. Valerian Rodrigues (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2008), p.319.

[2]  See Shamsul Islam, Golwalkar’s We our Nation Defined. A Critique with the Full Text of the Book (New Delhi: Pharos Media, 2006), p. 14

[3]  Novalis, ‘Christianity or Europe. A Fragment’, in The Early Political Writings of the German Romantics, ed. Frederick C. Beiser (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), p. 61-2.

[4] Savitri Devi, Warning to the Hindus (Calcutta: Hindu Mission, 1939), p. 142. Also see my ‘In Defence of Marxism’, in Critique, Vol. 40, No. 1, February 2012.

[5] B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or the Partition of of India, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Writings and Speeches, Vol. 8 (Bombay Education Department, Government of Maharashtra, 1990), p. 358.

[6] Etienne Balibar, Masses, Classes, Ideas. Studies on Politics and Philosophy Before and After Marx, trans. James Swenson (New York and London, Routledge, 1994), pp. XII, XIII.

[7]See his The Culture and Civilization of Ancient India in Historical Outline (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 2000), p. 50.

[8] Karl Marx, ‘The British Rule in India’, p. 40.

[9] See B.R. Ambedkar, ‘The Political Rights of the Depressed Classes’, in Thus Spoke Ambedkar. Vol. I. A Stake in the Nation,  p. 21.

[10] Karl Marx Capital, Vol. I, p. 338-9

[11] Karl Marx, ‘The Future Results of the British Rule in India’, in On Colonialism (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1976), p. 81.

[12] Karl Marx, ‘The British Rule in India’, p.41.

Radical Socialist statement on LG Polymers disaster


Radical Socialist is greatly alarmed at the death of 11 people, including a six-year-old girl, and more than

a thousand people affected after styrene monomer gas leaked from a chemical plant belonging to LG

Polymers at RR Venkatapuram in Visakhapatnam on May 7, 2020. Around 350 people are hospitalised till

now. This gas leak has directly affected an area over a radius of about three kilometres. At least five

villages within this radius have been severely affected. According to experts, styrene is a neuro-toxin and

inhalation leads to immobilisation and eventual death in ten minutes.

The chemical plant situated in a densely populated area in Visakhapatnam city occupies an area of 213

acres. Earlier called Hindustan Polymers, the company was taken over by the South Korean multinational

LG Chem in July 1997.  It manufactures polystyrene and expandable polystyrene from imported styrene

and reprocesses primary plastics into engineering plastics. 

In January 2018, AP Pollution Control Board granted environmental clearance to LG Polymers to expand

production from 415 tonnes of chemicals per day to 655 tonnes per day, at an extra cost of Rs 168 crores.

These include polystyrene and expandable polystyrene, both using hazardous chemicals for its

manufacture. This clearance is considered valid till December 2021. However, later in May 2019, the

State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) pointed out that LG polymers was

functioning without a valid environmental clearance order from it. It stated that no clearance was obtained

by the company regarding ‘petrochemical based processing’ in the schedule to the EIA notification,


In the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown, after the first phase of lockdown ended on April 14, 2020, the

company also managed to gain permission for functioning citing that it was an “essential” industry. The

South-Korean company had managed to obtain a No Objection Certficate (NOC) even as the first phase

of the COVID-19 lockdown ended. 

By no stretch of the imagination can a plastics manufacturing unit like LG Polymers be categorised as “

essential”. This has clearly happened in collusion with senior government officials. The issues around

the environmental clearance and the subsequent events around the lockdown makes it amply clear that

this can’t be termed as an accident but constitutes criminal negligence by the company which out to

maximise profits has bypassed all safety norms. Moreover, such an industrial disaster coupled with the

ongoing pandemic can have  far reaching dangerous consequences. 

Radical Socialist also notes, and urges all socialist, working class, and ecologically conscious people and

organisations to undertand that the Modi government, right from 2014, has been committed to

overturning environmentally sound policies. As with other issues like centralisation of powers and

overturning labour laws, it is using the current crisis to push aggressively for its eco-destructive policies,

in the name of development/economic revival. This has to be combatted not merely in this case, but in all

cases. The LG Polymers disaster is a warning that Indian capitalism and the Modi regime cannot be

trusted at all in this matter, and only continuous resistance can ensure any positive development.

Radical Socialist demands that:

  • The directors of LG Polymers be arrested for criminal negligence and flouting environmental and safety
  • norms.
  • The officials colluding with the company and easing environmental and safety norms should be booked.
  • All safety precautions must be taken before reopening plants dealing with chemical and hazardous
  • materials.
  • All victims of this disaster must be adequately compensated.
  • The local environment, atmosphere and groundwater sources must be cleaned and purified.
  • Violation of safety norms in industries must be recognised as a criminal offence.  
  • Efforts must be made to shift from such polluting industries to environment friendly ones. 

May 8, 2020

Class and Race Inequality, Health, and COVID-19


by K Mann

The demographic data collected and reported in the media for sickness and mortality rates due to COVID-19 has focused on age and to a certain extent gender. While mass hardship from unemployment has been widely reported, we have heard little about sickness or mortality rates by class or race for the coronavirus. There is nonetheless, clear evidence that class and race, and health and disease in general are closely linked. It is very likely therefore that sickness, recovery, and mortality rates for the Coronavirus pandemic will closely mirror class divides within countries and between rich and poor countries. Individual and household incomes, which reflects the class structure in a general way will be a key factor in how different classes experience the pandemic and its aftermath. Workers and the poor and people of color will likely suffer at greater rates than more privileged class and racial groups.

Sociologists, social epidemiologists and other researchers have long noted the close connections between class, race, and health. However, the two cases for which most data have been reported on COVID-19, China and Italy, gives us little guide to class or race in the current crisis because data on incomes or other measures of class have either not been collected or not have been released, and both are countries without the type of stratified racial structure as the US. While the virus spreads through human contact via close interaction with people and infected surfaces ignoring class distinctions, patterns of those who do become ill, their recovery rates and those who die will very likely be connected to social class. More research may very likely reveal a clear class divide in China and Italy. We can expect clear social epidemiological patterns along race as well as class lines in the US as the epidemic unfolds. We can see the connections between class structure and class inequality on the one hand, and health and illness rates on the other, by comparing data on income with data on measures of health such as infant mortality and life expectancy. These are general estimates in part because income is an imperfect measure of social class.

Increasing Class Divide

Over the last few decades, income inequality in the United States has sharply increased. While this has obviously created increasing hardship, especially for the lower levels of the eighty percent of the wage-earning population that experienced a reduction of their slice of the national income since the 1980s, the increasing gap between the top and the bottom income strata is itself a further aggravating factor in the degradation of quality of life measures such as those associated with health and illness. Sociologists like Richard Wilkinson argue that it is the degree of inequality in a society more than GDP that most determines measures of human well-being (Wilkinson, 1996; (Wilkinson and Pickett, 2008). Researchers often use the Gini coefficient to measure inequality across countries. It calculates income inequality on a scale of 0-1; a society with complete equality would have a score of 0.0, and one with complete inequality, that is, with all wealth going to top strata would score 1.0. The US currently scores .49, the greatest overall income inequality among the world’s global north countries (China scores .55, Italy scores .33).

Since the 1990s, the one to twenty percent has taken increasing percentages of total income and wealth in the US. This is due to tax breaks to upper income strata, declining rates of unionization, neo-liberal deregulation, and continued gains in labor productivity, almost all of which have accrued to capitalist profit rather than higher wages. At the same time, wages and salaries have stagnated for at least three fifths of the income earning population since at least the 1990s.

Income data collected by the federal government divides the wage-earning population into twenty percent segments, often referred to as the “fifths”, which show percentages of total income for each segment. Speaking generally, since the 1990s the percentage taken by the top 20% of wage earners has grown precipitously, the bottom two have shrunk, and the middle has stagnated. Workers can roughly be said to occupy the first three fifths of the income ladder. The lowest fifth received 4.3% of all total income in 1980 and 3.6% in 2000. The Occupy Wall street movement called attention to class inequality by focusing on the 1%. The 1% have indeed gobbled an increasingly huge percent of income-17% and wealth, 34% in recent years. But the top ten and top twenty percent have increased their share of wages wealth as well. The top fifth took 43.7 % of all salary and wages paid in 1980. By 2000, their share increased to 49.6%, and by 2010 slightly more to just over 51%. At that point the most substantial gains went to the top one percent.

Let’s take a quick look at the bottom strata of the income hierarchy, those occupying the bottom fifth, especially its lowest earning levels. Poverty is calculated by the U.S. government on the basis of food and other living costs in relation to income (a very faulty formula that vastly underestimates true food and living costs). Currently, the poverty line is around $25,000 for a family of four. The official poverty rate in the US is currently around 12%, or about 36 million people. A more reasonable estimate would be around 25-30% (25% would represent 88.5 million people). Many of these are children or retired people who would not be in the labor force. There are also millions barely above the poverty line whose actual life conditions resemble those under the poverty line, but yet who do not count as such in government statistics and do not qualify for public assistance. For those that do qualify, assistance payments have been slashed by successive waves of “welfare reform” from Clinton’s deep cuts in the 1990s to the latest round of cuts announced by the Trump government just before the pandemic hit the US. Among the working age poor are long term or intermittently unemployed workers, while many others are low wage workers in fast food or retail, members of the informal economy, or “gig” workers. Many of these low-wage workers earn less than the poverty line and have no sick days, pension, or health insurance. Although Obama care added millions to the ranks of the uninsured around 20 million remained uninsured.

Class and Health

Against the backdrop of this quick look at the U.S. class structure, we can take a look at health data in relation to class. Overall, the middle and upper-class self-report good and excellent health in far greater percentages than lower income strata. According to a report by the Center for Society and Health, “(p)oor adults are almost five times as likely to report being in fair or poor health as adults with family incomes at or above 400 percent of the federal poverty level . . . and they are more than three times as likely to have activity limitations due to chronic illness . . .Low-income American adults also have higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other chronic disorders than wealthier Americans (Woolf et al, 2015).

Health in a society can be measured by looking at several factors such as infant mortality, life expectancy, obesity rates, and more, not to mention multiple mental health factors. Here we take a brief look at two of these, infant mortality rates, and life expectancy, (both of which correlate with many other factors). Studies published as early as 1901 in York, England showed clear patterns linking class distinctions, living conditions, and infant mortality. A study conducted in York, England that collected data on infant mortality rates from three distinct working-class populations. The three groups differed according to living conditions and income with the poorest living in the most cramped and crowded conditions.

The infant mortality rate was highest at 247 per 1,000 live births in the poorest areas, 184 per 1,000, and in the highest, 173. The study noted that the infant mortality rate among servants living in the cleanest and least crowded neighborhoods and homes was 94. Research on 21st century populations reveals the same correlations. According to a a study published in 2001, “In England and Wales infant mortality in 2000 was 3.7 per 1,000 among infants born to fathers in the top social class and 8.1 among those born into the bottom class. Among single mothers, the rate was 7.6. . . ” (National Statistics, 2001).

Life expectancy is also a prime measure of overall health in a population. Globally, the average life expectancy is 72 years according to the World Health Organization (WHO.) All of the countries with the longest life expectancies are in the global north with Japan and Hong Kong at the top with 84 plus, while all of the countries with the shortest are in the global south. Average life expectancy in the Central African Republic is 52.8 years.

In the US,” (a)mong men born in 1960, those in the top income quintile could expect to live 12.7 years longer than men in the bottom income quintile” according to a report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (Isaacs and Choudary,2017). All of this suggests that in general (individual exceptions aside), the poorer one is, the worse health they can expect; while, the richer one is, the better health they can expect. There is even evidence that the top half of the one percent have better health than the bottom half of the one percent.

Race and Health

Race also correlates closely with health and disease but less so than class. African Americans have much lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality rates than whites. Overall life expectancy in the US is around 78 years. Most studies find a 4-5-year gap between whites and blacks in general. Black men live around nine years less on the average than white men. In the US, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the infant mortality rate (percentage) (measured as the number of infants who do not survive until their first birthdays), for African Americans is 11.4%, while the rate for whites was 4.9%.

Part of the poor health picture of communities of color reflects the overlap of race and class among blacks, Latinx, Asians, and Native people, all of whom are overwhelmingly working class and overrepresented in the ranks of the poor. Blacks and Latinx according to standard data collection are three times more likely to live in poverty than whites (the poverty rate for blacks and Latinx has been around 25% for most of the past few years, as opposed to 8% for whites). Blacks have far higher diabetes rates than whites, and diabetes puts one at a distinct risk for the coronavirus. Research has shown that the connection between race and health is weaker than the relationship between class and health. In other words, “. . . higher-income blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans have better health than members of their groups with less income, and this income gradient appears to be more strongly tied to health than their race or ethnicity. (Urban Institute,2015).

The high incarceration rates among African Americans will also result in higher infection and mortality rates in the black community since prisons are hotbeds of communicable disease transmission and prison hospitals are much less equipped to handle a sudden influx of patients. The myriad ways that people of color experience cultural racism in their interactions with health care workers at all levels including with physicians will continue to aggravate conditions for people of color during this crisis. And, all of the problems associated with poverty, malnutrition, and inequality will likely be magnified in unsanitary, closely packed Immigrant detention centers.

Class, Race, and COVID-19

The particularities of coronavirus will accentuate class and racial differences. For example, although people of all classes use public transportation in big urban centers, working people are more likely in some areas to take public transportation and less likely to have the option of driving their own cars, making them more vulnerable to infection. The automobile ownership rate per household in Milwaukee’s poor black neighborhoods for example, is 20-30%, while it is 90% in the white and wealthier areas. An article in the March 30 New York Times suggested that the use of long-distance public transportation that people in sprawling Detroit use to get from crowded neighborhoods to work may be factor in the sudden spike in coronavirus infections in that heavily black, working class, and poor city. Drive-up testing will be less effective in cities and counties where larger shares of the population do not have access to vehicles.

Data on the relationship between class, occupation, and the ability to self-isolate and therefore stay safe, during the pandemic is already being assembled. Information on fifteen million smart phone holders’ movements reported in the New York Times online edition on April 3, shows a clear occupational and class divide (the New York Times article did not discuss sampling issues). “(A)cross America, many lower-income workers continue to move around, while those who make more money are staying home and limiting their exposure to the Coronavirus”. For example, “The wealthiest people, those in the top 10 percent of income, however, have limited their movement more than those in the bottom 10 percent of the same metro areas.”

According to a study by the Data Center, a research group in southeastern Louisiana, “(i)ncome and poverty measures can indicate the extent to which a community may be able to successfully adhere to COVID-19 mitigation measures (such as “stay at home” and “quarantine family members who are sick”). (Data Center, March 25, 2020).” Allison Plyer, The Data Center’s chief demographer told the New Orleans Sun Herald (April 3, 2020) that “(w)hen people live in poverty, they live in much closer quarters, with potentially four people in a one-bedroom house,” said “That means it’s very hard to quarantine. A major way the virus is spread is among family members.” On the other hand, middle-class white-collar workers on the other hand, often live in larger living spaces. During the 1990s, newly built home size jumped from 1,800 feet to 2,400 feet, giving more room to quarantine a sick household member (Frank, 2015). These homes were most likely bought by those in the upper reaches of the third and lower levels of the fourth fifth.

Being poor, a person of color, or both makes one more likely to be homeless, or to live in a homeless shelter in close quarters. The vast and sudden unemployment and low wages, particularly in high rent areas, increase the likelihood that people will live in crowded living spaces making maintaining social distancing especially difficult. Living in close quarters during this stressful time is also putting women facing domestic violence at greater risk according to numerous sources that have documented a surge in violence against women and LGBTQ people specifically connected to the COVID-19 crisis (Guardian, April 3, 2020).

Likewise, blue collar workers often work in closer quarters than white collar workers (some “pink collar” jobs in jobs gender-typed occupations such as secretarial work have also been moved to remote, while others such as house cleaning work, have not). In the current situation large swaths of the work performed by white collar employees has moved to online in comfortable homes (highly paid physicians working with Coronavirus patients are an exception), while working class and most people of color work in blue color jobs that can’t be performed at home, which has led to unemployment for some and the prospect of working under dangerous conditions for others.

The digital divide puts many poorer and rural working people and people of color without access to internet or quality internet or computers, smart phones, tablets, etc. in danger of not receiving the best and most up to date health related information. It also compromises their ability to follow school work that has now been shifted to a remote online format, which will further aggravate educational inequalities along class and race lines. Twelve percent of all US households lack internet access according to the US census. Only 61% of all households in New Orleans, a city with an overall poverty rate of 23.8% (2018), and one of the worst hit by COVID-19 have broad band. Twenty percent have no internet connection whatsoever (Data Center, 2020).

According to the Data Center in Louisiana, early studies of morbidity rates in Wuhan, China “have identified high blood pressure, diabetes, . . . coronary heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD–often associated with smoking), chronic kidney disease, and cancer as pre-existing health conditions that may increase the likelihood of severe outcomes for people who get infected with COVID-19” (Data Center, 2020; Yang, 2020). African Americans, and to various extents low income people of all races, suffer from these. Approximately, one third of all African Americans in Detroit suffer from asthma and diabetes.

Education, which overlaps with class, though it is a somewhat independent factor in health, is another fault line of health and social inequality linked to class. Currently, 12% of the US population does not have a high school diploma and 65% do not have a college degree. While 32% of white adults have a college degree, as opposed to only sixteen percent of blacks and nine percent of Latinx.

Poverty, however measured, is usually accompanied by malnutrition which in turn has a negative effect on many if not all measures of health. It certainly affects infant mortality and ultimately life expectancy. Malnutrition, with its connection to class and race inequality could very well be a significant factor regarding Coronavirus. Even some of the guidelines for who to prioritize in case of ventilator shortages will reflect class and race inequalities. An article published on CNN online on March 27, reported on a letter that held that “patients with severe heart, lung, kidney or liver failure, severe trauma or burns, or terminal cancers may be ineligible for a ventilator or ICU care. These patients will instead receive “pain control and comfort measures.” These conditions are far more prevalent in lower income strata and communities of color.

Access to Health Care

The United States is the only country of the global north without a universal health care system.

In the US the poor and near poor are most likely not insured as most people in the US receive health insurance at workplaces with over 250 employees, and workers of color are more likely to work in smaller businesses that do not offer insurance. Theoretically, unemployed, underemployed, and workers working in small businesses exempt from the ACA would qualify for Medicaid, but many are excluded in part because Medicaid has been cut and Republican governors have refused federal offers to expand it.

Since lack of regular access to health care compromises overall health and likely weakens the immune system, layers of the population without regular access to health care can be expected to be more susceptible to getting sick from the virus and to experience its worst effects.

Restricted access to health care would seem therefore to be a major reason for health inequalities along class lines, and certainly plays a big part in class and health disparities. However, sharp health inequalities exist in other highly stratified capitalist countries of the global north, all of whom have some sort of universal health system. It was recently reported In England, a country with universal health care and GINI index lower than the US ( 35 as opposed to the United States’s .49) but still substantial, that the high-income strata in England live ten years longer than working people and the poor. The reasons for this are multiple and cannot all be analyzed here, but the English example points to the great depth and breadth of the destructive nature of and deep unfairness of class inequality.

The lack of a universal health care system in the US is both an expression of the great class inequality in the United States and a cause for the poorer health of the working class and poor. But, the example of England with its ten-year life expectancy gap from rich to poor attests to the depth of inequality in the sharply stratified societies of contemporary neo-capitalism. All of this means that being poor, a person of color, and/or a wage earner is an occupational health hazard in “normal” times, and even worse in the current crisis, a deep indictment of neo-liberal capitalist society. The much-touted high-quality Italian health care system had been subject to neo-liberal style cuts to public health for years in ways that badly aggravated the COVID-19 crisis.

According to a recent article on the crisis in Italy:

Our health care system was ravaged by a decade of funding and provision cuts, leaving it a shadow of its former self. 37 billion euros were cut and more than 70,000 beds vanished into thin air. ICU beds amount today to just 5,090, while the Ministry of Health states 2,500 more ICU beds are needed to tackle the crisis. The beds to population ratio is currently 3.6/1000, down from 5.8/1000 in 1998. . . .

Last but not least here, as neoliberal cuts were being implemented, the system was increasingly fragmented into regional management, breaking up state management and hampering national funding system. This resulted in economically stronger areas getting more resources while weaker areas fell behind. Worse, in recent years, public financial support has flowed into a growing private health care system. Thus, the Italian healthcare system was not well equipped to respond to the crisis when it hit. Even after all this, the Italian health system’s greatest strength lies in still being a single-payer system… (Zecca “Covid-19 opens up a new political period in Italy”).

Similar deep budget cuts to public health systems have also happened in Britain, France and elsewhere in previously social democratic “cradle to grave” welfare states that are now overwhelmed with Coronavirus patients.

The deadly combination of deep social inequalities, structural health care inequality, and neo-liberal cuts to the health care systems in the richest countries of the global north that the COVID-19 epidemic has revealed, powerfully underlines the necessity and timeliness of the central points of Bernie Sander’s program in his presidential campaign: universal health care and a redistribution of wealth and income through progressive taxation of the 1, 10, and 20%. His proposal for free college education is also essential because as has been suggested here education is also closely linked to health.

While a social democratic program would address the twin problems of income inequality and lack of a universal health care system, the tight connections between class inequality and health outlined here show that it is the existence of class divisions and therefore class society itself that inevitably denies the majority of society the means to healthy lives. The class inequalities that the COVID-19 crisis will expose means that only the elimination of penury and the drastic shrinking of social inequality, conditions which can only occur under socialism, can provide safe and healthy lives for all of the planet’s peoples.

8 April 2020

(Source News Politics.


Data Center. 2020. “Demographics of New Orleans and early COVID-19 Hot Spots in the U.S.”

Frank, Robert H. 2015. Inequality Matters: The Growing Economic Divide in America and it Poisonous Consequences. New York: New Press.

Isaacs, Katelin, and Choudary, Sharmila. 2017. “The Growing Gap in Life Expectancy by Income: Recent Evidence and Implications for the Social Security Retirement Age.” Urban Institute.

National Statistics, (Winter 2001) “Infant and Perinatal Mortality by Social and Biological Factors, 2000,” Health Statistics Quarterly.

Rowntree, B.S. 2001. “Poverty: A Study of Town Life (1901),” in Poverty, Inequality, and Health in Britain, 1800–2000: A Reader , ed. G. Davey Smith, D. Dorling, and M. Shaw (Bristol, England: Policy Press), 97–106.

R.G. Wilkinson , Unhealthy Societies: The Afflictions of Inequality (London: Routledge, 1996 ).

—– Wilkinson, Richard and Pickett, Kate. 2008. “Income Inequality and Socioeconomic Gradients in Mortality”. American Journal of Public Health. 2008 April; 98(4): 699–704.

Woolf, Steven H., Aron, l., Dubay, L., Simon, S., Zimmerman, E., Luk, K. April, 2015. “How Are Income and Wealth Linked to Health and Longevity?” Center on Society and Health.

Woolf, Steven H., Aron, l., Dubay, L., Simon, S., Zimmerman, E., Luk, K. April, 2015. “How Are Income and Wealth Linked to Health and Longevity?” Center on Society and Health.

Yang, J., Zheng, Y., Gou, X., Pu, K., Chen, Z., Guo, Q., … & Zhou, Y. (2020). “Prevalence of comorbidities in the novel Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) infection: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Zecca, Antonello. 2020. “COVID 19 Opens up a New Political Period in Italy”.


From International Viewpoint