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Gandhi, Non-Violence and the Liberation of the Proletariat from Imperialism

Gandhi, Non-Violence and the Liberation of the Proletariat from Imperialism

By End Imperialism and Serve The People

(llco.org)

Norman Finkelstein is a person whom we have a lot of respect for. Finkelstein has courageously and consistently combined impeccable scholarship with committed pro-Palestine activism. We have previously been pleased to see him support the right of armed resistance against Israel and state the benefits the military defeat of Israel would bring. However, we were surprised to learn that he has recently turned toward Gandhian solutions to the Palestinian national question. Finkelstein writes:

“A massive mobilization of Palestinians building on the non-cooperation tactics of the first intifada (commercial and tax strikes, popular committees) could again make the Israeli occupation ungovernable. Is it so far-fetched to imagine an “army” of Palestinian satyagrahis converging on the Wall, their sole “weapons” a pick in one hand and a copy of the ICJ opinion in the other? The ICJ stated that the Wall was illegal and must be dismantled. The Palestinians would only be doing what the world should already have done a long time ago. Who could fault them for enforcing the law? No doubt Israel would fire on Palestinians and many would be killed. But if their supporters in North America and Europe publicized the ICJ opinion, and if Palestinians found the inner wherewithal to persevere nonviolently, it seems probable that far, far fewer than 5,000 Palestinians would be killed before Israel were forced to desist. No one writing abroad from the comfort and safety of his study can in good conscience urge such a strategy that entails so much death. But Gandhi’s point nonetheless stands: if Palestinians have repeatedly shown a willingness to pay the ultimate price, doesn’t it make sense for them to pursue a strategy that has a better likelihood of success at a smaller human price?” (1)

We do not prescribe one single model for carrying out national liberation against imperialism. We believe that virtually any and all tactics which advance that glorious task are permissible. Non-violent protest is a valid tactic to apply to the mobilization of the masses for national liberation and it has, in fact, been widely practiced in Palestine. However, Leading Light Communists are certain that any national liberation movement which does not pursue armed struggle is bound to end in failure. Armed struggle is a prerequisite for national liberation and it is the responsibility of communists in the exploited nations to vouchsafe military means against the foreign occupation of their country and not to disarm until that end is achieved. We will reiterate this point later on. For now, this article proposes to examine the theory of Gandhiism as practised by M.K. Gandhi himself.

Gandhi’s Significance

To a great many Indians, the single most significant aspect of Gandhi’s life is that he successfully mobilized millions of people for the de jure overthrow of Brutish rule in their country. For Westerners influenced by the saintly reputation created for Gandhi by ruling class propaganda, Gandhi represents a citizen of a colony who led his people to freedom without the bloodshed usually associated with national liberation struggles. Gandhi’s example is routinely used by the latter to condemn armed national liberation struggles around the world, with the mistaken assumption that it is always possible to expel foreign occupiers by non-violent means. As such, Gandhiism is the favourite philosophy of conservative opponents of actual national liberation struggles and those who support the status quo of violent imperialist domination of the Third World.

Undeniably, Gandhi had a mass following and played a major role in the glorious struggle for India’s independence (inevitable though the withdrawal of the Brutish Empire from a crumbling economic base in India was). However, the means employed by Gandhi to achieve India’s putative “independence” led to the establishment of a decadent political system there which maintained its dependent relationship to imperialist capitalism. To the extent that Gandhi’s leadership of the Indian national liberation movement consolidated the power of a haute-bourgeoisie allied to feudal and imperialist class interests, Gandhiism can be described as a philosophy of counter-revolution. In what ways did Gandhi help maintain imperialism?

Gandhi’s Racism

Several years ago, the unveiling of a statue to Gandhi in Azania (southernmost Africa) resulted in an outcry of protest from people who knew that he was a racist lackey of the white settlers. During World War II, Gandhi had the gall to write to Hitler as a “friend.” He published an article advising the Brutish to submit completely to Hitler and Mussolini, should the latter invade “great” Britain. He also called upon the Jews to commit suicide en masse by hurling themselves off cliffs when the Nazis came.

The tale that Gandhi defended the oppressed against their oppressors is a colossal lie that continues to set the left back. The story is much told of how Gandhi, while living as a lawyer in Azania under Brutish occupation, was thrown off a train for sitting in a carriage reserved for whites. (Throughout the era of apartheid, and even today, he would have been considered “coloured” – above the Africans but below the whites under that political system.) That experience supposedly led him to fight for the oppressed. The truth is that he actively cultivated an alliance of the Indian population with the whites – AGAINST the Africans.

When Gandhi formed the Natal Indian Congress on August 22, 1894, his declared primary objective was: “To promote concord and harmony among the Indians and Europeans in the [South African] Colony.” His newspaper Indian Opinion launched on June 4 1904 with the words: “The object of Indian Opinion was to bring the European and the Indian subjects of the King Edward closer together.” Gandhi considered native Africans or Kaffirs to be racially inferior to both “colored” Indians and whites. On September 26, 1896, he protested white settler rule in Azania in the following chauvinist terms:

“Ours is one continued struggle against degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the European, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir, whose occupation is hunting and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with, and then pass his life in indolence and nakedness.”

In 1904 Gandhi indignantly complained that superior Indians were being treated the same as the undeserving, lazy and unruly “natives”:

“It is one thing to register natives who would not work, and whom it is very difficult to find out if they absent themselves, but it is another thing – and most insulting- to expect decent, hard-working, and respectable Indians, whose only fault is that they work too much, to have themselves registered and carry with them registration badges.”

On September 9, 1905, Gandhi wrote an editorial in Indian Opinion saying:

“Now let us turn our attention to another and entirely unrepresented community – the Indian. He is in striking contrast with the native. While the native has been of little benefit to the State, it owes its prosperity largely to the Indians. While native loafers abound on every side, that species of humanity is almost unknown among Indians here.”

Gandhi here defended the apartheid system that the European settlers in southernmost Africa had devised as a means of consolidating their economic and political power over the African people who, far from being “lazy”, were the virtual slaves of the European bourgeoisie and their bourgeois “working class” and middle class hangers-on.

Gandhi’s strategy of creating a kind of loyal opposition to strict apartheid (specifically, those aspects which impinged upon the liberties of the “colored” petty-bourgeoisie, and even then very selectively) is in striking contrast to the struggle put up against that disgusting system by Indians later allied to the African National Congress. Many southern African “coloreds”, particularly of the working class, strove to create a nation free of white supremacy wherein all non-whites would enjoy equal citizenship. By contrast, Gandhi was a white supremacist defender of settler slavery and mass murder in Azania who advocated the legal ownership of firearms by “coloured” Indians there, but not for black Africans, and boasted of his successful campaign to prevent “kaffirs” from using public transport. Gandhi celebrated the massive European theft of African land and – in a theme reminiscent of every single massive land grab in modern history – argued that the superiority of the white race could be seen by its great land wealth and productivity in comparison to native fruitlessness (conveniently forgetting that whites had brutally robbed the natives of most of their land). Gandhi considered racial segregation properly in-keeping with his unfailing faith in the caste system of his native India. The following statement made by Gandhi in Indian Opinion of September 24, 1903 puts paid to any notions that Gandhi was not a loyal supporter of white racist rule in Azania:

“We believe as much in the purity of race as we think they [the European settlers] do, only we believe that they would best serve these interests, which are as dear to us as to them, by advocating the purity of all races, and not one alone. We believe also that the white race of South Africa should be the predominating race.”

Gandhi’s Loyalism

In the sense that loyalism is a political ideology justifying fealty to a colonialist power, Gandhi was a pro-British loyalist. Like Irish “nationalist” MP John Redmond in the same period, Gandhi abhorred violence when it was in the cause of his own country’s independence, but he actively promoted it when he campaigned for his countrymen to join the hated Brutish Army to fight for the interests of Brutish finance capital in World War I. In Ireland, revolutionary national martyr Pádraig Pearse is today chastised by “liberals” and historical revisionists for having argued for a “blood sacrifice” in the cause of Irish nationhood. Yet it is conveniently forgotten that Irish Republicanism’s political opponents in 1916, the so-called “moderates” in the Irish Nationalist Party, demanded a far more massive and costly blood sacrifice when they campaigned for Irishmen to go off to die in their thousands for the Brutish Empire. Similarly, Gandhi is today thought of as an apostle of non-violence, but he was quite happy to act as a recruiting sergeant for one of the deadliest and mightiest killing machines in the world in 1915, when he toured the country seeking “20 recruits from every village.” Hypocrisy? No. Merely the product of one politician’s enduring loyalty to capitalist interests. As Gandhi said:

“I discovered the British Empire had certain ideals with which I have fallen in love.”

But the core ideal of the Brutish Empire in Gandhi’s day and our own is popular submission to murderous militarism in the service of the super-exploitation of the downtrodden working masses. Who can love such “ideals” but an enemy of humanity?

Gandhi as Counter-Revolutionary in India

Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence, alike in many respects to that espoused by Russian aristocrat Leo Tolstoy, was intended to guarantee the struggle for national independence in India would not disturb the rule of large propertied interests (the landlords and the big bourgeoisie). As such, to a great and increasing extent, India would be independent in name only, since these same class interests are bound to economic relations that subject Indian national democracy and development to the parasitic requirements of imperialist capital. They were thus in mortal fear of decisive revolutionary mass struggle. Any time the national movement seemed to be heading in a direction whereby it would run outside their control, the right-wing leadership of the Indian National Congress – representing the landlords and the big bourgeoisie – turned to Gandhi. Gandhi had successfully cultivated a reputation amongst the rural Indian masses for advancing traditional Indian values above regional and upper-class sectional interests and was, from that point of view, the perfect figurehead for the reactionary bourgeoisie to place at its head. From the time of the Hartal campaign against fierce and arbitrary Brutish repression in 1919, to the massive wave of proletarian strikes that swept India in 1921-1922 and right up to the Bombay Naval Mutiny of 1946, Gandhi advocated reform, caution and outright capitulation to “great” Britain (whose Royal Air Force had bombed rebellious parts of the country in 1928) whenever the national movement looked set to achieve its goal. As Comrade Rajani Palme Dutt wrote in 1940:

“This Jonah of revolution, this general of unbroken disasters, was the mascot of the bourgeoisie in each wave of the developing Indian struggle. So appeared once again the characteristic feature of modern Indian politics, the unwritten article of every successive Indian constitution – the indispensability of Gandhi (actually, the expression of the precarious balance of class forces). All the hopes of the bourgeoisie (the hostile might say, the hopes of imperialism) were fixed on Gandhi as the man to ride the waves, to unleash just enough of the mass movement in order to drive a successful bargain, and at the same time to save India from revolution.” (2)

Gandhi’s big bourgeois backers worked hand-in-glove with him to ensure the stability of a bourgeois-landlord social compact because they feared that revolution in the countryside would unleash social forces that would threaten their capitalist interests. As Lord Hailey (then Sir Malcolm Hailey), argued in the Indian Legislative Assembly in 1924:

“Anything like a real revolution in India would have most disastrous effects on that very class that is now represented in the Legislative Assembly and Provincial Councils; for among the ignorant masses of India, a political revolution would become a social revolution in a very short space of time.”

Imperialists like Hailey had nothing to fear on this score from “Mahatma” Gandhi, however. Gandhi expressly reassured his landlord backers, the bloodsuckers of India’s rural poor, in the following terms:

“I shall be no party to dispossessing the propertied classes of their private property without just cause. My objective is to reach your hearts and convert you so that you may hold all your private property in trust for your tenants and use it primarily for their welfare…. The Ramarajya of my dream ensures the right alike of prince and pauper. You may be sure that I shall throw the whole weight of my influence in preventing a class war … Supposing there is an attempt unjustly to deprive you of your property. You will find me fighting on your side … Our socialism or communism should be based on non-violence, and on the harmonious cooperation of labour and capital, the landlord and tenant.” (Gandhi, interview to deputation of United Provinces Zemindars, July, 1934, Mahratta, August 12, 1934).

Gandhi was a convinced supporter of the rights of property, that is, the right to exploit and oppress the working class. He wrote (and note the racist implications of his placing different skin color in the same category of “natural” disablement as different degrees of intelligence):

“My social theory is that, although we are born equal, that is to say, that we have a right to equal opportunities, nevertheless, we have not all the same abilities. By the nature of things, it is impossible that we should all be all of an equal stature, that we should all have the same colour of skin, the same degree of intelligence; and consequently is natural that some of us should be more fitted than others to acquire material gain. Those who are capable wish to acquire more, and they bend their abilities to this end. If they use their abilities in the best spirit, they will be working to the benefit of the people. These people will be ‘trustees’ and nothing more. I should allow a man of intelligence to gain more, and I should not hinder him from making use of his abilities.” (Gandhi, interview to Charles Petrasch, Le Monde, February 20, 1932).

The above statement is typical of Gandhi’s vile elitism. Arguably, it might be acceptable under a “more ideal” capitalism. But in reality, as capitalism becomes a fetter on production, the vast majority of the wealth in the world goes not to people who “earned” it through their allegedly superior endowments but rather to people who simply inherited it through circumstances of birth. That is true of the First World (where the wealth of the entire population is largely the fruit of colonialism and imperialism set up by prior generations), and it is certainly true of India, where the tiny elite inherits its status from its parents (even formally, through the caste system!). How many intelligent Indians never get the opportunity to learn to read? How many elites are by no means intelligent?

Gandhi was a dedicated anti-communist and totally opposed to the struggle of the proletariat for emancipation from wage-slavery, from his days in southern Africa when he advocated the setting up of an armed volunteer corps amongst Indians for the repression of African workers right to the end of his life. Thus, in the familiar language of every reactionary in all countries, Gandhi expressed his fear of “red ruin.”

“It has been suggested to me by a Congressman wielding great influence that as soon as I declared civil disobedience I would find a staggering response this time. The whole labour world and the kisans in many parts of India will, he assures me, declare a simultaneous strike. I told him that if that happened I would be most embarrassed and all my plans would be upset…. I hope I am not expected knowingly to undertake a fight that must end in anarchy and red ruin.”

Violence in India Since Gandhi

Gandhi’s “non-violent” method of liberating India proved to be anything but. The country split into three pieces, at least two of which are constantly at war. Tens of millions of people were forced to migrate because of their religious background. Instead of uniting the people around class interests, Gandhi was responsible for advocating the traditional feudal Indian caste system which would leave India’s millions of Muslims as second-class citizens in a Hindu-dominated polity. He therefore bears major responsibility for the violence surrounding partition. Leaving this issue aside, however, what has Gandhi’s “non-violent” and bourgeois elitist approach to national liberation given India’s people in comparison to what communist violence achieved in China?

As mentioned above, Gandhi was staunchly loyal to India’s landlords and the system of capitalist serfage which was in place during his lifetime. Gandhi professed a totally primitivist and anarchist belief in the superiority of small-scale farming in India. Despite the fact that he pragmatically took the side of India’s (re)burgeoning industrial bourgeoisie in the last years of Brutish rule, Gandhi expressed such “spiritual” nonsense as the following to his followers in 1909:

“It is not the British people who are ruling India, but it is modern civilisation, through its railways, telegraphs, telephone, and almost every other invention has been claimed to be a triumph of civilisation … Medical science is the concentrated essence of black magic … Hospitals are the instruments that the Devil has been using for his own purpose, in order to keep his hold on his kingdom … If there were no hospitals for venereal diseases or even for consumptives, we would have less consumption, and less sexual vice amongst us. India’s salvation consists in unlearning what she has learnt during the past fifty years or so. The railways, telegraphs, hospitals, lawyers, doctors and such like all have to go.”

This contempt for modern “civilization” is misplaced. Gandhi may have confused colonial-capitalism with modern industry – forgetting Great Britain’s ruination of India’s own in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries – which enables the production of an economic surplus capable of being shared equally by the masses for their own benefit. Gandhi, who was educated at Oxford and was a recipient of big-bourgeois funding, of whom one astute Indian observer remarked that it was costing India millions to keep him in poverty, rejected free social healthcare for the working masses.

Gandhi’s high-faluting asceticism is not just words. It has a real-life impact. In 1949, when the People’s Republic of China was declared and two years after India was declared a sovereign state, both countries were at comparable levels of development, with China being generally poorer than India. Yet the subsequent historical record of both countries demonstrates that socialism brings wealth, health and culture to the masses, thereby saving millions of lives, whilst capitalism (particularly the private ownership of land) brings, disease and starvation leading to millions of unnecessary deaths. The following data is derived from UNICEF reports, 1984, 1986 and 1987 and was published by  MIM several years ago.

Population in 1949

China: 540 million
India: 510 million

Population in 1979

China: 800 million
India: 672 million

Under age 5 child mortality rate, 1945
(Figures per 1000)

India: 430
China: 520

Infant mortality under 1, 1945
(Figures per 1000)

India: 203
China: 280

Infant mortality rate under 1, 1985
(Figures per 1000)

India: 105
China: 36

Life expectancy at birth, 1949

India: 32
China: 32

Life expectancy at birth, 1985

India: 57
China: 69

Daily per capita calorie supply as percentage of daily requirements, 1983

India: 96%
China: 111%

These figures demonstrate that perhaps one hundred million lives were saved in China thanks to communism. We prefer the violent suppression of a portion of recalcitrant exploiters and oppressors – unwilling to peacefully retire their property and privilege – to the misery, hopelessness and mass death occasioned by “non-violent” capitulation to capitalism and imperialism. Gandhi’s bourgeois morality of “non-violence” has translated in practical terms since Indian independence was declared to a massive pile of millions of people starved to death or left to die of preventable diseases, because his politics of bourgeois rapprochement with imperialism left the social structures intact which cause these terrible things to occur. It has ultimately led to thousands of farmers committing suicide in rural India in the past few years and to widespread illiteracy, hopelessness and pig repression and the strengthening of imperialism on a world scale.

The Leading Light Communist Position on Revolutionary Violence

It is not for nothing that the bourgeoisie trumpets M. K. Gandhi and M. L. King: their turn-the-other-cheek politics plays right into the hands of the oppressor. The bourgeoisie wants “non-violence” only from the oppressed. As US boxer Muhammad Ali is reported to have suggested, the oppressor only calls for peace when he has already taken possession of everything by force. If the United States were really serious about “non-violence,” would it invest so much in armaments? Would it occupy Korea? Would it facilitate the overthrow of elected leaders in Honduras? Would it finance its proxy armies in the Democratic Republic of Congo? Would it rampage around the Muslim world like a mad dog killing, torturing and maiming men, women and children?

The United States, the UK, and the Zionist entity demand that the oppressed disarm themselves. That demand should immediately set off howls of laughter from the world’s oppressed, and for that matter from any right-thinking person. How can disarmament possibly be on the agenda when the oppressors, armed to the teeth, are going to keep their arms?

In a world dominated by western monopoly capitalism, war and violent international conflict are inevitable. To condemn any particular armed intervention by imperialism is to miss the point that the entire capitalist system today rests on militarism and the armed repression of the Third World masses by imperialism. Leading Light Communists detest any social system that imposes war as a necessity of life on humanity. We are advocates of the abolition of war. As Mao said:

“War, this monster of mutual slaughter among men, will be finally eliminated by the progress of human society, and in the not too distant future too. But there is only one way to eliminate it and that is to oppose war with war, to oppose counterrevolutionary war with revolutionary war, to oppose national counter-revolutionary war with national revolutionary war, and to oppose counter-revolutionary class war with revolutionary class war…. When human society advances to the point where classes and states are eliminated, there will be no more wars, counter-revolutionary or revolutionary, unjust or just; that will be the era of perpetual peace for mankind. Our study of the laws of revolutionary war springs from the desire to eliminate all wars. Herein, lies the distinction between us Communists and all the exploiting classes.”

With sorrow, we have seen what happens, from Chile to Nepal and from India to Palestine, when the people lay down their arms in the face of imperialism. Imperialism takes its chance and falls to feeding on its hapless victims. Therefore we say to Palestinians and to all other exploited Third World nations:

“The seizure of power by armed force, the settlement of the issue by war, is the central task and the highest form of revolution. This Marxist-Leninist principle of revolution holds well universally, for China and for all other countries.”

Long Live Indian Liberation!
Long Live Palestinian Liberation!
Long Live the Victory of People’s War!

Notes

(1) Norman G. Finkelstein, ‘Resolving the Israel-Palestine Conflict: What we can learn from Gandhi’, http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/resolvi….rn-from-gandhi/

(2) R. Palme Dutt, India Today (London, Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1940), 323.

Recommended Reading

Naresh Majhi, ‘Gandhi and African Blacks’, http://www.trinicenter.com/oops/gandhi2.html

Richard Grenier, ‘The Gandhi Nobody Knows’, Commentary March, 1983, 59-72

Sudarshan Kapur, Raising up a Prophet: The African-American Encounter with Gandhi (Boston, Beacon Press, 1992)

Fazlul Huq, Gandhi: Saint or Sinner? (Bangalore, Dalit Sahitya Akademy, 1992)

Kamran Shahid, Gandhi and the Partition of India (Oxford University Press, 2005)

Rajani Palme Dutt, ‘Gandhi and the Nationalist Movement: A Marxist View’ in Martin Deming Lewis, ed., Gandhi: Maker of Modern India (Boston, D.C. Heath and Co., 1965)

Rajani Palme Dutt, India Today (London, Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1940)

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On Leading Light Communism and Religion

 

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On Leading Light Communism and Religion

By Comrade Rizal Roja

Across the globe, religious extremism poses a serious threat to the revolutionary cause. In many third world countries, terrorist mercenary groups, motivated by supposed “religious purity,” are funded and armed by the United States, and other Imperialist countries. These extremists are terrorizing secularists, political activists, ethnic minority groups and other innocent civilians in massive numbers. In India, the imperialists openly fund and arm “Hindu” extremist groups to murder and terrorize Muslims, Buddhists and Christians [1]. In the neighboring countries of Bangladesh and Pakistan, the Imperialists send massive amounts of money and material support to “Islamist” groups to terrorize and murder non-muslims [2][3]. The aim of the Imperialists is a classic “Divide and conquer” strategy which aims to turn the oppressed against each other and weaken unity amongst the people. This strategy is an old one, and has been exploited for centuries by the Imperialists to conquer and exploit the peoples of the colonial and neo-colonial world.

As a result of recent developments in religious extremism on the global stage, a revisionist and “ultra-leftist” line influenced by the growth of the reactionary “New-Atheist” movement, has emerged. This line calls for denouncing religion and outright attacks against comrades and institutions of faith. Individuals and groups supporting this line claim that religion itself is the underlying cause of sectarian terrorism and violence, and that the masses should be berated and criticized for their faith. This line is at best, an erroneous position that absolves capitalism and imperialism of the guilt for the mal-development, impoverishment and suffering of the third world in favour of a simplistic theory that the suffering of the masses can be faulted on their own supposed “superstitious ignorance.” This is also called “blaming the victim.” At its worst, it justifies the supposed “Civilizing force” of the secular Imperialist powers in their destructive wars and terror campaigns against third world people. Either way, this line is both reactionary and harmful to the revolutionary movement.

Along similar lines, many so-called Communists are equally quick to dismiss or attack people of faith. They have been known to quote Marx when he states “Religion is the opiate of the masses,” claiming that religion is simply an addictive drug used by the bourgeoisie to oppress the people. However if one examines Marx’s full statement, the true meaning becomes clear.

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

In context, we see that Marx recognized that religion was not simply a series of superstitions and rituals performed by the ignorant, but a tonic for the pains that come with oppression. It is important to recognize that having faith is an attempt by people to soften the harshness of their lives. If we mock the oppressed for attempting to relieve their pain we will be harsh and heartless. We must show the oppressed that Leading Light Communism is their path to true liberation without spitting on their deeply held beliefs.

So what is to be done?

It is important that Leading Lights expose these terrorists operating under the guise of “Religious purity” as spineless traitors and agents of the Imperialists. It is important that we expose their wicked and cowardly lying, and their overarching goal of dominating the poor masses of the third world for their Imperialist masters. However, we must not make the mistake of condescending or attacking the majority of people of faith. We must aim to unite the masses of the third world, and educate them on how to identify and fight these Imperialist-Mercenary charlatans. We must show the religious masses that regardless of their faith, they have more in common with each other than they do differences. We need to ensure that all people can contribute to the struggle. This includes secular forces as well as religious peers, priests, imams, monks, and holy men. All must be won over to Leading Light Communism. Those with an understanding of religious ideas are able to reach the people in a unique way, and are indispensable as comrades in our movement. We must not underestimate the ability of those with a solid understanding of religion and genuine love of the people to be able to communicate with the masses in a language they can understand. While we must maintain secularism as an organization, we still must unite all who can be united, and lead all who can be led. At the same time we must expose the wicked deceptions of the Imperialists and their cowardly butcher-agents who seek to manipulate religious differences in service to Empire. It is the responsibility of Leading Lights to guide the way.

1. http://scroll.in/article/667071/an-unnoticed-fact-the-rss-indias-biggest-ngo-gets-foreign-funding-too

2. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-36462026

3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-yousaf-butt-/saudi-wahhabism-islam-terrorism_b_6501916.html

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Notes on today’s Maoists who uphold Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge

Notes on today’s Maoists who uphold Pol Pot and the Khmer RougeMTIwNjA4NjMzOTQzOTgzNjI4

(llco.org)

The Communist Party of India (Maoist) is one of many democratic, progressive, anti-imperialist, groups fighting the Indian state, a part of the global empire. They are one of many movements fighting for the liberation of the poor in the second most populous country on Earth. They are a movement that deserves our critical support even though, as of today, their organization has refused to give up the dogmatism of the past. One example of this dogmatism is their continued embrace of the Khmer Rouge as the last genuine communist movement with state power.  And, for Maoists, upholding Mao’s theories is the dividing line between Marxism versus revisionism. So, since, according to the CPI (Maoist), only fellow Maoists are communists in the present era, it stands to reason they also regard the Khmer Rouge of the past and Democratic Kampuchea as Maoist. Around 2002, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) highlights the Khmer Rouge in key documents, including their basic course on Maoism for their cadre:

“After the death of Mao in 1976, the capitalist roaders who had remained in the party staged a coup under the leadership of the arch revisionist Deng Tsiao-ping and took over the control of the party under the nominal leadership of Hua Kuo-feng, a so-called centrist. As Mao had often taught, with political control going over to the hands of the revisionists the socialist base had gone out of the hands of the proletariat. At the same time the leadership of the Albanian Party of Labour switched over to an opportunist line attacking Mao Tse-tung Thought and projecting Mao as a petty bourgeois revolutionary. Though the Khmer Rouge continued to hold power in Kampuchea they were waging a constant struggle against the internal and external enemies of the Revolution and were yet to emerge from the economic ravages of war and consolidate their rule when they were defeated by the Soviet backed Vietnamese Army.” (1)

According to the CPI (Maoist), the Khmer Rouge were the last remaining communist organization with state power:

“The mid-70s saw the final overthrow of many long standing colonial regimes after long guerrilla wars. Thus the US and their puppets were thrown out of Vietnam, Kampuchea and Laos in 1975. In Africa the republics of Mozambique, Angola, Ethiopia, Congo, and Benin were formed in this period. However most of these countries were taken over by puppets or satellites of the new imperialism – Soviet social imperialism. A prominent exception was Kampuchea, where genuine communist revolutionaries – the Khmer Rouge – remained independent until invaded in 1978 by Vietnam on the behest of the Soviet imperialists.” (2)

On the anniversary of Mao’s birthday, December 26,  2006, the Central Committee of the CPI (Maoist) further stated at an international conference:

“Many communist movements were ruthlessly crushed as in Kampuchea. Now, after over 150 years of the communist movement we can count the number of genuine communist movements with some mass base on our finger-tips. ” (3)

Furthermore, according to some of their critics, People’s War Group,  the main predecessor group of the CPI (Maoist), did not just praise the Khmer Rouge in print, but distributed Pol Pot badges. Thus they promoted Pol Pot’s cult of personality.  An editorial in Dalit Voice reports:

“If DV can also get hold of the erstwhile PWG’s literature boasting of how it distributed Pol Pot badges, our savarna maoists (in this context, a reference to the CPI (Maoist) and its predecessors – ed.) will be totally exposed globally.” (4)

The CPI (Maoist) are not the only Maoists who express for their admiration of the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge are popular amongst some of the smaller Gonzaloist and Gonzaloist-influenced sects. For example, a Panamanian Gonzaloist-influenced blog reproduces a document that states:

“The experience of the Khmer Rouge revolution is unprecedented and it shows that young people can also do great revolutions and these are not huge heritage of countries or world leaders. There are also ‘small’ leaders who acquire greatness but their victories pretend to be ignored and maligned worse.” (5)

The Panamian blog reproduce a video entitled “Kampuchea :Honor and glory to the beloved Comrade Pol Pot, a communist steel and his gift to his beloved Kampuchean people!”  (6)  Brazilian Gonzaloists also celebrate Pol Pot:

“Today, we celebrate the 87th birth anniversary of the historic cambodian communist leader, Comrade Pol Pot (1925-1998).” (7)

Thus there is a strange convergence of opinion on this point between the CPI (Maoist), some Gonzaloist and Gonzaloist-influenced sects, and the imperialist media. The former praise the Khmer Rouge as “communist.” At the same time, the imperialists pin the “Maoist” and “communist” label on the Khmer Rouge as a way to taint Maoism and communism as a whole. For example, the reactionary media used to refer to the Communist Party of Peru as “the Khmer Rouge of Latin America.”

Several points must be made:

1. Imperialism, not the Khmer Rouge, was the main perpetrator of violence against the peoples of Kampuchea. More bombs were dropped on Indochina during the years of the Vietnam War than were dropped in every country in World War 2. The violence inflicted by imperialism on the peoples of Kampuchea, Vietnam, and Laos reached genocidal levels. Millions were killed by the imperialists. By 1975, already an estimated 10% of the Kampuchean population– 600,000 had died as a result of the Vietnam War. (8) When the Khmer Rouge took power in April in 1975, the country had been devastated. The cities had swelled from refugees fleeing the bombing of the countryside. Food production was disrupted. The Khmer Rouge inherited a crisis situation where they had to attempt social transformation in a country that was ruined and in a country that was under constant threat by imperialists. We must never forget that imperialism caused the most harm to the Kampuchean people, not the Khmer Rouge.

2. The Khmer Rouge were an extremely opportunist movement. They only claimed to be “Maoist” after Mao had died. And they only claimed to be “Maoist” to get aid from the post-Mao, revisionist regime in China. In fact, the Khmer Rouge did not claim to be Maoist in their internal documents or to their domestic audience. Furthermore, the Khmer Rouge denounced the “Gang of Four,” arguably the last remaining leftists in the Chinese Communist Party, as “counter-revolutionary.” Furthermore, the Khmer Rouge praised the revisionist leadership of Hua Guofeng and Deng Xiaoping in an effort to secure support. (9)

3. Despite their rhetoric of independence and self reliance, the Khmer Rouge always aligned politically with whatever forces would give them aid. This opportunism led them into supporting the revisionists in China when the Chinese were giving them support. Later, this opportunism led them into an alliance with Western imperialism. The United States delivered aid to the Khmer Rouge and other anti-Vietnamese and anti-Soviet forces after the Khmer Rouge were driven from power in 1979. It was the United States that was instrumental in keeping The Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea, which included the Khmer Rouge, as the official representative of Kampuchea at the United Nations up until 1993. As part of their opportunism, the Khmer Rouge quickly dropped the communist label after they were deposed in 1979. In his last interview before his death, Pol Pot was honest about his disregard for communism:

“When I die, my only wish is that Cambodia remain Cambodia and belong to the West. It is over for communism, and I want to stress that… When I say Cambodia {should} be part of the West, I mean that if you belong to the West, at least there is no fascist regime.” (10)

The reality is that the Khmer Rouge were never a real communist organization. Rather, they were a nationalist organization that opportunistically used communist rhetoric and symbols to secure aid. And, when China no longer cared about communist rhetoric, the Khmer Rouge dropped the communist rhetoric altogether in an attempt to befriend Western imperialism, especially the United States.

4. The way that the Khmer Rouge understood socialist construction was not unlike some of the Chinese revisionists. They placed extreme emphasis on economic development carried out by a terrorized, disciplined, and docile population. They embraced a version of the revisionist Theory of the Productive Forces, which overemphasizes economic and technological development at the expense of class struggle. They embraced crackpot schemes to propel Kampuchea forward that ended in disaster. Although their developmental schemes failed miserably, their model put development and economic prosperity at the forefront, not class struggle that would prepare the masses for taking power.

Even though they used rhetoric from China to describe their model, they modified Chinese slogans to suggest their approach would outdo even the Chinese. Thus they claimed to outdo the Chinese “Great Leap Forward” with their own Khmer “Super Great Leap Forward.” They claimed that their Khmer revolution was unprecedented. There is an underlying nationalist chauvinism in this bombast, in their false claim to have outdone previous revolutions, especially the revolutions of their Chinese, Maoist neighbors. Thus like many other movements nationalism accompanied developmentalism at the expense of revolution.

5. The communist movement had always placed great emphasis on ideological education. This was especially true of Mao’s revolution, which elevated the importance of ideology to a whole new level. Ideological education is one of the main forms of class struggle. However, not all ideological education is the same. At its best moments, the Chinese Maoist efforts of ideological remolding were ones that actively involved the population. The masses were not simply told what was right and wrong. Rather, the masses were motivated to actively question many aspects of the system. Top leaders, even President Liu Shaoqi, were forced to answer questions before the masses during the Cultural Revolution. Big debates on the nature of the revolution, history, aesthetics, and other topics were published in the Chinese press. The Chinese masses were encouraged to discuss and debate the issues. Although the Chinese experience was not perfect, at its best moments, it promoted Socratic questioning, open and free criticism, and science over the blind obedience of Confucianism. Along with this, the Chinese Communist Party was patient with masses. The Communist Party of China criticized the errors of commandism and Confucianism, both of which denied the ability of the masses to think for themselves and lead themselves. In its best moments, the Chinese Communist Party recognized that it was necessary to understand that to transform the masses, it is necessary to take a gradualist approach. This principle is also behind the Maoist leadership method of mass line. Communist leadership must be humble and patient enough to meet the masses where they are. Only by coming to the masses with patience and humility can the trust of the masses be won so that the masses become open to transformation by communist leadership. This principle is also behind the gradualist approach of Maoist collectivization of agriculture, which happened in stages: New Democracy, collectives, then People’s Communes. This is part of the meaning behind the most famous Maoist slogan: “Serve the people.”

By contrast, in an effort to outdo the Chinese and previous revolutions, to re-establish a golden age of Khmer greatness, the Khmer Rouge did away with Maoist gradualism. The most infamous practice of the Khmer Rouge was the emptying of cities. Whole populations of cities were labeled as “new people,” and treated like class enemies. They were stripped of their possessions and marched from the cities to the countryside where they labored at bayonet point. Violence and control of the food supply were two ways they motivated the population. One Khmer Rouge slogan stated: “Hunger is the most effective disease.” (11) The Khmer Rouge were also known to persecute minorities. The Khmer Rouge seemed more interested in obedience than transformation of the population to prepare it for active leadership. This is reflected in the Khmer Rouge’s descriptions of themselves. Even after they had taken power, the Khmer Rouge, for a long time, did not even tell the population that they claimed to be a communist party. Instead, they referred to themselves simply as “Angkar” or “Organization.” Also, they described themselves as omniscient, invincible, immortal. This high-handedness  is reflected in some of their slogans:

“Let Angkar pour truth into your head.”

“Angkar has [the many] eyes of the pineapple.”

The Khmer Rouge’s attitude toward dissent was much different than Mao’s. The Chinese Cultural Revolutionaries emphasized “big debates,” protests, power seizures, criticism, etc. By contrast, the Khmer Rouge looked on dissent very critically:

“You can arrest someone by mistake; never release him by mistake.”

“Better to kill an innocent by mistake than spare an enemy by mistake.”

The terroristic aspect of the Khmer Rouge is reflected in several slogans that threaten death upon the population:

“He who protests is an enemy; he who opposes is a corpse.”

“If someone is very hungry, the Angkar will take him where he will be stuffed with food.”

“If you wish to live exactly as you please, the Angkar will put aside a small piece of land for you.”

“No gain in keeping, no loss in weeding out,” (also rendered: “To destroy you is no loss, to preserve you is no gain.” – ed)  (12)

Think of how different the Khmer Rouge’s approach is to Mao’s approach. Written in April, 1956, Mao’s “Ten Major Relationships” was produced amid reports of excessive executions during the Stalin era in the Soviet Union:

“We must keep up the policy which we started in Yenan: ‘No executions and few arrests’. There are some whom we do not execute, not because they have done nothing to deserve death, but because killing them would bring no advantage, whereas sparing their lives would. What harm is there in not executing people? Those amenable to labour reform should go and do labour reform, so that rubbish can be transformed in something useful.

Besides, people’s heads are not like leeks. When you cut them off, they will not grow again. If you cut off a head wrongly, there is no way of rectifying the mistake even if you want to.

If government departments were to adopt a policy of no executions in their work of suppressing counter-revolutionaries, this still would not prevent us from taking counter-revolution seriously. Moreover it would ensure that we would not make mistakes, or if we did they could be corrected. This would calm many people.

If we do not execute people, we must feed them. So we should give all counter-revolutionaries way out of their impasse. This will be helpful to the people’s cause and to our image abroad.

The suppression of counter-revolution still requires a long period of hard work. None of us may relax our efforts.” (13)

This injunction by Mao against summary executions reflects how the Chinese revolutionaries emphasized the importance of “uniting all who could be united,” “big debates,” mass line, populism, patience and humility when dealing with not only the masses, but even many enemies.

Serve the people truth, not falsehood

In the 1970s, during and after Mao’s death, the Chinese press referred to the Khmer Rouge in glowing terms. However, the Chinese press referred to numerous states and movements in a similar way. For example, numerous Eastern European and national liberation movements were labeled “socialist” by the Chinese even though such regimes and movements would not be considered as such by Maoist nor Leading Light standards. When examined closely, the Khmer Rouge has never deserved the label. Just as there are communist movements that have adopted national liberation as a means of advancing communism, there are also nationalist movements that have adopted communist rhetoric and policies as a way to gain support in the pursuit of purely nationalist goals. The Khmer Rouge are the latter, not the former. Although the Khmer Rouge was once an anti-imperialist movement that drove the United States out of Kampuchea, like other narrowly nationalist movements, they later opportunistically aligned with the imperialists and revisionist anti-communists when it suited their purposes.

It is important today to come to terms with the real history of revolutionary and national liberation movements. Just because a movement claims to be “revolutionary” or “communist” does not make it true. There is a long history of movements that “wave the red flag to oppose the red flag.” Revolutionaries in China used to warn: “Be careful not to board a pirate ship.” Just because Beijing Review in the 1970s identified the Khmer Rouge in such a way does not mean they were. If today’s Maoist movement is ever going to advance scientifically, then it must deal honestly with history. One of the irony of ironies is that many of the same Maoists who uphold Pol Pot denounce Lin Biao as a Confucian and authoritarian with no real evidence at all. Such dogmatism would be funny if it weren’t so sad, if lives were not on the line.

Mao himself noted the importance of the correct, scientific line:

“The correctness or otherwise of the ideological and political line decides everything. When the Party’s line is correct, then everything will come its way. If it has no followers, then it can have followers; if it has no guns, then it can have guns; if it has no political power, then it can have political power. If its line is not correct, even what it has it may lose. The line is a net rope. When it is pulled, the whole net opens out.” (14)

The correct, scientific line is the key to victory. The incorrect line only leads to defeat. It is a sign of the weakness of the Maoist movement today that even though they claim to be scientific and materialist, the reality is that they are dogmatic, metaphysical, idealists that share much in common with religious sects. The dogmatic embrace of the Khmer Rouge by a Maoist organization so prestigious as the CPI (Maoist) reflects the sad state of affairs. Thus the claim by Maoism that it is the highest stage of revolutionary theory rings hallow today. Of today’s Maoist bombast, perhaps Mao would repeat his famous words: “It is an empty drum that beats the loudest.”

We can do better. If we are to initiate the next great wave of revolution, it is necessary to articulate a truly liberating vision of the future. It is also necessary that our vision of the future be based on genuine science, not old dogma. Those who uphold the Khmer Rouge today set themselves at odds with the advances of revolutionary science. We hope that those Maoists who continue to uphold the Khmer Rouge correct their line on this and other questions. We encourage the remnants of the Maoist movement to advance to the next, highest level of revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism. The masses deserve the best.

Notes

  1. https://ajadhind.wordpress.com/marxism-leninism-maoism-basic-course/
  2. ibid.
  3. The Worker, #11, July 2007, pp. 39-47. http://www.bannedthought.net/India/CPI-Maoist-Docs/Nepal/CPIM-Paper2007W11.htm
  4. http://naxalrevolution.blogspot.com/2006/10/dalit-voice-naxalism-gets-complicated.html
  5. http://nuevademocraciapanama.blogspot.com/2010/11/kampuchea-democratica.html
  6. http://nuevademocraciapanama.blogspot.com/2015/04/kampuchea-honor-y-gloria-al-querido.html
  7. http://nuevademocraciapanama.blogspot.com/2012/05/blog-grande-dazibao-quando-os.html
  8. www.prisoncensorship.info/archive/etext/faq/polpot2.html
  9. ibid.
  10. http://natethayer.typepad.com/blog/2011/10/second-thoughts-for-pol-pot-fallen-tyrant-defends-his-brutal-regime-but-now-wants-cambodia-tied-to-west-the-washington-pos.html#sthash.ZS5DE2zj.dpuf
  11. Locard, Henri. Pol Pot’s Little Red Book: The Sayings of Angkar. Silkworm Books, Chiang Mai, 2004
  12. ibid.
  13. Mao Zedong, “On Ten Major Relationships,” April 1956
  14. https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-9/mswv9_88.htm

United States rich, India poor, so-called “international communism movement” deaf and dumb

United States rich, India poor, so-called “international communism movement” deaf and dumbOB-SH091_ipover_EA_20120320073430

(llco.org)

A rough figure for median personal income per workday for people (working and non-working) in the United States over 15 years of age is $119.03 (roughly Rs. 4,946.88, we are using the current exchange rate). (1) According to a recent report, 394.9 million Indians, 86% of the workforce, are employed in the unorganized sector and work in “utterly deplorable conditions.” 316 million (roughly 8 out of 10 working in this main sector of the Indian economy), the vast majority of the workforce, make less than Rs. 20 or $0.49 a day. (2) We are going to compare the United States and India in terms of income per workday to get a rough idea about how great the gap is between the wealth of First World workers and Third World workers. In addition, this disparity of income is greater than these daily figures indicate because Indians often work more hours per day. (3) In addition to this, we should consider that people in the United States are generally employed in cushy jobs in the non-productive sector in safe environments. Indians, by contrast, are employed doing backbreaking and unsafe labor. (4) (5) (6) (7)

The standard First Worldist reply will be “But half of people in the United States make less than the median.” This is, of course, true. To that we reply that the *minimum* wage for a full-time worker in the United States is $5.15 (roughly Rs. 214.075) an hour, or $41.20 (roughly Rs. 1,712.60) a day, and that’s still almost 100 times what working Indians at around the *80th* percentile are paid. Nearly all working people in the United States make well over the minimum wage. For that matter, we could look at welfare recipients.  Their income is vastly higher than $0.49 a day (which is about $10 a month if we count only “working” days) that Indian workers. So even persons on welfare in the United States are much better off than most Indian workers. Indeed, so is the “lumpenproletariat” in the United States, which is really not a lumpenproletariat at all, but a lumpenbourgeoisie. Anybody in the United States can get ahold of $10 in a month’s time, even if they have to resort to begging. Few Indians can. It is a good bet that many ordinary people in the United States have more access to capital than many who are considered bourgeoisie in India. When there is this much disparity in quality of life, reflected in income disparity, between workers in the United States and Indian workers, there is no meaningful sense in which we should consider these groups as part of the same class. There is no meaningful sense in which there is an alignment of class interests between a worker making $0.49 cents a day and someone who makes 100 to 243 or more times that amount, for example. In addition, other factors besides income raise the standard of living in the First World vis a vis the Third World. People in the United States have lives of luxury, Indians live at subsistence and sub-subsistence levels. Let’s consider the system of capitalist-imperialism as a whole. Within this system, people in the United States are getting more than their share of income and purchasing power. They are net-beneficiaries of the global distribution of wealth. There is no meaningful sense in which they can be considered exploited nor part of the proletariat as a revolutionary class. With a more egalitarian, more just distribution globally, all people in the United States legally would have their income, wealth, standard of living and purchasing power greatly decreased. Any way we examine it, virtually all people in the United States are getting more than their share of the global social product. First World workers are part of the global bourgeoisie whose interests align with empire against Third World. Marx said that we have to break with metaphysical approaches. We have to  look beneath surfaces. It is not enough to look at the superficial means by which value flows into the pockets of First World people. It is not important whether an individual receives more than his share of the global social product by a salary, wage, or payment from investments. No matter how he receives the value, he still receives the value as an exploiter.

The disparity of wealth is caused by empire, by global capitalism, a system where whole geographic regions, whole countries, even continents, benefit by exploitation and oppression of the Third World. First Worldist revisionists agitate on behalf of First World economic interests are not true communist parties. They are First World social-fascist organizations agitating for a bigger cut of super-profits stolen from the Third World. Third World people’s organizations that make alliances with these social-fascist organizations should be looked at with great skepticism by true communists. Parties who lack common sense or science enough to see the obvious should stop calling themselves “communist.” Only Leading Light Communism explains today’s global class structure. Today, there is a lot to be happy about. We’ve got the new breakthrough. We have developed the revolutionary science capable of really winning. The masses are stepping forward and picking up the sword of Leading Light Communism. Great leaders, warrior geniuses, have emerged to lead humanity out of the darkness. This is a time of heroes.

Notes

1. http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032006/perinc/new05_001. htm

According to the United States Census Bureau, people in the United States over 15, working or not, the median personal income was $28,567 (roughly Rs. 1,187,473.00) for 2005. People in the United States typically work about 240 days a year. They work five days a week. They get two weeks in holidays off and another two weeks in vacation time. So, let’s divide $28,567 by 240 to get roughly of $119.03 (roughly Rs. 4,946.88 ) for a very rough lowball median personal income per workday for people (working and non-working) in the United States over 15 years of age.

2.http://www.thehindu.com/2007/08/10/stories/2007081056671600.htm

3. http://naxalrevolution.blogspot.com/2007/08/8-out-of-10-working-indians-earn-less.html pp 70

4. http://naxalrevolution.blogspot.com/2007/08/8-out-of-10-working-indians-earn-less.html pp 58

5. http://naxalrevolution.blogspot.com/2007/08/8-out-of-10-working-indians-earn-less.html pp 66

6. http://naxalrevolution.blogspot.com/2007/08/8-out-of-10-working-indians-earn-less.html pp 97

7. http://naxalrevolution.blogspot.com/2007/08/8-out-of-10-working-indians-earn-less.html pp 99

Reprint: Interview with Madhusree Mukerjee

Reprint: Interview with Madhusree Mukerjee, author of Churchill’s Secret Warmm

(llco.org)

Harper’s recently published an interview with Madhusree Mukerjee, author of Churchill’s Secret War. The book’s topic is the Bengal famine of 1943. Bourgeois historians condemn Stalin for the Soviet famine of 1932 to 1933. They condemn Mao for the problems of the Great Leap. What differentiates the Bengal famine from other famines is that it was manmade and deliberate. Winston Churchill had a personal hand in killing 1.5 to 3 million people. However, for Churchill, who was a notorious racist, colonial peoples did not count as fully human. Like First Worldists today, Churchill valued Western European, especially English, people above the peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Yet this racist mass murder is trumpeted as a hero in the West.

The original interview can be found here: http://harpers.org/archive/2010/11/hbc-90007797

Churchill’s Dark Side: Six Questions for Madhusree Mukerjee
By Scott Horton

Madhusree Mukerjee, a former editor at Scientific American and the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, has published a bombshell book about Churchill’s attitudes toward India and the steps that he took during World War II that contributed to a horrific famine in Bengal in 1943. I put six questions to her about her book and some of the pushback it has drawn from Churchill’s defenders:

1. You write that Hitler never fully embraced the Indian nationalist cause because he expected Britain to reach some accommodation with Germany that allowed it to retain most of its empire, and specifically India. What is it about Churchill and Britain that Hitler misunderstood in this regard?

Hitler believed that the so-called Nordic race, which in his view included Germans and Britons, was destined to rule the world. He sought to emulate, not supplant, the British Empire: the German empire would comprise the Slavic countries to the east. As he saw it, the United Kingdom would retain its colonies but assume the role of Germany’s junior partner in world domination.

Hitler underestimated the depth of Churchill’s reverence for England’s imperial traditions. To Churchill, the British would be second to none. Moreover, Churchill’s reading of history told him that Britain had always maintained the balance of power in Europe: whenever France or Germany had marched, England had marched—against. This time would be no different. Churchill also believed that it was his destiny to lead his country in war against a vile enemy.

Hitler may have evoked particular repugnance because, in addition to persecuting Jews, he was seeking to enslave Europeans. Churchill had condoned the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, explaining that the aggressor was “an ancient State, with the highest sense of national honour and patriotism and with a teeming population and a remarkable energy.” And he had advised against intervention when Italy attacked Abyssinia, on the grounds that the victim was not “a fit, worthy, and equal member” of the League of Nations. Hitler trusted that British leaders would likewise comprehend his desire to induct Slavs, whom he saw simply as slaves, into the Third Reich.

2. Yet you do write that Churchill harbored a deep racism or at least ethnocentrism when it came to the Indians and that he toyed with the idea of building a British alliance with Untouchables, Sikhs, and Muslims to hold India and keep Hindu nationalists at bay. Did this reflect a reasonable appreciation of the forces then at work in India?

Churchill’s divide-and-rule policies found fertile ground among India’s Muslims. For decades, British conservatives had sought to deepen India’s inherent fissures in order to weaken the nascent independence movement. For instance, in 1905 Viceroy Curzon planned to partition Bengal province along religious lines, so as to enhance rivalries between Muslim landowners in its east and Hindu nationalists in its west. He also encouraged the formation of the Muslim League as a counterweight to the dominant nationalist party, the Indian National Congress.

A prolonged agitation led to Bengal being partitioned instead along linguistic lines. But then the colonial government introduced separate electorates for Muslims—that is, every Muslim in British India was required to vote for a Muslim. The measure favored separatists, who could get elected by appealing to narrow sectarian sentiments. The British subsequently introduced separate electorates for other groups as well, but the effort was partially repulsed.

So although Churchill was interested in exploiting diverse social fault lines, he concentrated on widening the Hindu-Muslim rift—which he regarded as “the bulwark of British rule in India.” When Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim League, called for a separate nation of Pakistan, Churchill hailed “the awakening of a new spirit of self-reliance and self-assertiveness” among India’s minorities. During the war, the British government encouraged the demand for Pakistan and propagandized along Islamist lines against Hindus.

3. At several points you suggest that Churchill was inspired by the remembrance of the 1857 uprising to take steps that disregarded the value of civilian lives in India. But, as you note, in 1920, following the Amritsar massacre, Churchill denounced precisely that logic when it was used by Brigadier Reginald Dyer and his supporters to justify the tragedy that had occurred. Churchill decried what happened as “frightfulness” and called for accountability for Dyer. Doesn’t this suggest a different attitude towards the Indians?

In 1920 Churchill was not hostile to Indians. The independence movement had yet to develop to its full strength; and the Indian Army, which was largely loyal to the British, had just sacrificed 60,000 lives in World War I. The British Empire was threatened mainly by actions such as Dyer’s. By killing more than a thousand Sikh civilians—at least by the Indian account—Dyer had undermined the loyalty of Sikh soldiers in the Indian Army. The army had accordingly dismissed Dyer; and, as secretary of state for war, Churchill was called upon to defend the army’s action. Hence his speech denouncing “frightfulness,” or terror tactics.

Incidentally, in these years Churchill was calling for gas attacks on rebellious Iraqis, in order to “spread a lively terror.”

By the 1940s, the Indian situation had changed dramatically. The freedom movement, led by Gandhi, posed a potent challenge to the Empire and caused Churchill’s animosity toward Indians to escalate. And the Indian Army had acquired many native officers, whose loyalty could not be taken for granted. So Churchill ensured that if rebellion broke out in India, the colony’s best-equipped and -trained battalions would be fighting the  Axis—on another continent.

India was bereft of defenses, so that when Japanese forces reached the colony’s borders, the War Cabinet ordered scorched-earth measures to deter their advance. The resulting destruction of rice and boats contributed to famine.

4. The central thesis in your book is that Churchill and the War Cabinet took a series of decisions which led inexorably to the starvation of  between 1.5 and 3 million persons in 1943. You do not, however, charge that it was their conscious intention to starve these people to death—unlike what the Nazis did in east central Europe about this same time, when starvation was a conscious policy objective. But do you believe that they knew or should have known that this catastrophe would follow from their decisions?

The War Cabinet received repeated warnings that famine could result from its exhaustive use of Indian resources for the war effort—and ignored them.

The Japanese occupation of Burma in March 1942 cut off rice imports, of between one and two million tons per year, to India. Instead of protecting the Indian public from the resultant food shortage, the War Cabinet insisted that India absorb this loss and, further, export rice to countries that could no longer get it from South East Asia. As a result, after war arrived at India’s borders, the colony exported 260,000 tons of rice in the fiscal year 1942-43.

Meanwhile India’s war expenditures increased ten fold, and the government printed paper money to pay for them. In August 1942 a representative of India’s viceroy told the War Cabinet that runaway inflation could lead to “famines and riots.”

In December 1942, Viceroy Linlithgow warned that India’s grain supply was seriously short and he urgently needed 600,000 tons of wheat to feed soldiers and the most essential industrial workers. The War Cabinet stated that ships were not available. In January 1943, Churchill moved most of the merchant ships operating in the Indian Ocean over to the Atlantic, in order to build up the United Kingdom’s stockpile of food and raw materials. The Ministry of War Transport cautioned him that the shift would result in “violent changes and perhaps cataclysms” in trade around the Indian Ocean. (In addition to India, the colonies of Kenya, Tanganyika, and British Somaliland all suffered famine in 1943.) Although refusing to meet India’s need for wheat, Churchill insisted that India continue to export rice.

With famine raging, in July 1943 Viceroy Linlithgow halted rice exports and again asked the War Cabinet for wheat imports, this time of 500,000 tons. That was the minimum required to feed the army and otherwise maintain the war effort. The news of impending shipments would indirectly ease the famine, he noted: any hoarders would anticipate a fall in prices and release grain, causing prices to fall in reality. But at a meeting on August 4, the War Cabinet failed to schedule even a single shipment of wheat for India. Instead, it ordered the buildup of a stockpile of wheat for feeding European civilians after they had been liberated. So 170,000 tons of Australian wheat bypassed starving India—destined not for consumption but for storage.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom’s stockpile of food and raw materials, intended for shoring up the postwar British economy, reached 18.5 million tons, the highest ever. Sugar and oilseeds overflowed warehouses and had to be stored outdoors, under tarpaulins.

Of course Churchill knew that his priorities would result in mass death. In one of his tirades against Indians, he said they were “breeding like rabbits” anyway. On behalf of Indians, the War Cabinet ignored an offer of 100,000 tons of Burmese rice from freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose (who was allied with the Japanese), discouraged a gift of wheat from Canada, and turned down rice and wheat volunteered by the United States.

The War Cabinet eventually ordered for India 80,000 tons of wheat and 130,000 tons of barley. (Barley was useless for famine relief because it had no impact on prices.) The first of these meager shipments reached India in November. All the while, the Indian Army consumed local rice and wheat that might otherwise have fed the starving. The famine came to an end in December 1943, when Bengal harvested its own rice crop—at which point Churchill and his friend Cherwell renewed their demand for rice exports.

5. Another figure who comes in for a shellacking in your book is Frederick Alexander Lindemann, later Lord Cherwell, an Anglo-German known as “the Prof,” who exercised a powerful influence over Churchill. You describe Cherwell as an impressive scientist but also someone who harbored some rather sinister Malthusian ideas with a latent racist component. What were these ideas and how did they contribute to the famine?

Judging by a lecture that Cherwell gave in the 1930s, he regarded colonial subjects as “helots,” or slaves, whose only reason for existence was the service of racial superiors. In drafts of this talk, he outlined how science could help entrench the hegemony of the higher races. By means of hormones, drugs, mind control, and surgery, one could remove from slaves the ability to suffer or to feel ambition—yielding humans with “the mental make-up of the worker bee.” Such a lobotomized race would have no thought of rebellion or votes, so that one would end up with a perfectly peaceable and permanent society, “led by supermen and served by helots.”

In November 1943, Cherwell urged Churchill to hold firm against demands for famine relief. Else, he warned, “so long as the war lasts [India’s] high birthrate may impose a heavy strain on this country which does not view with Asiatic detachment the pressure of a growing population on limited supplies of food.” That is, he blamed the famine on the irresponsible fecundity of natives—and ignored the devastation of the Indian economy by the war effort. He also elided the fact that the War Cabinet was preventing India from using its ample sterling balance or even its own ships to import sufficient wheat.

By Cherwell’s Malthusian argument, England should have been the first to starve. It was being kept alive by massive imports. In 1943 the United Kingdom imported 4 million tons of wheat, 1.6 million tons of meat, 1.4 million tons of sugar, 409,000 heads of live cattle, 325,000 tons of fish, 131,000 tons of rice, 206,000 tons of tea, 172,000 tons of cocoa, and 1.1 million gallons of wine for its 47.7 million people—a population an eighth that of India.

To Cherwell and also to Churchill, colonial subjects were worth saving only if they made a direct contribution to the war effort. According to Field Marshal Wavell, Churchill wanted to feed only those Indians who were “actually fighting or making munitions or working some particular railways.” The rest were dispensable.

6. Arthur Herman argues that you rely too heavily on Leo Amery’s diaries, recording Churchill’s intemperate outbursts, and pass by the fact that Churchill took decisive steps to ameliorate the famine. “Without Churchill,” he says, “the famine would have been worse.” How do you respond to this?

My indictment is based on what Churchill did, not on what he said. The Ministry of War Transport papers, the Cherwell Papers, and the official histories of British wartime food supply, shipping, and economy are my key sources. They show, for instance, that the War Cabinet scheduled eighteen ships to load with Australian wheat in September and October, 1943. Not one of these ships was destined for famine-stricken India.

Had anyone else been prime minister, he would have striven to relieve India’s plight instead of consigning wheat to stockpiles.

Churchill’s diatribes, as recorded in Amery’s and others’ diaries, are, however, useful in understanding why he acted as he did. Famine had failed to temper his hostility toward Indians. Churchill would tell his secretary that Hindus were a foul race protected by their rapid breeding from “the doom that is their due.” He wished Arthur Harris, the head of British bomber command, could “send some of his surplus bombers to destroy them.”

Jackal bites jackal

Jackal  bites jackalBangladesh-Jamaat-leader-sentenced-to-death

(llco.org)

Recently, the leader of Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, Motiur Rahman Nizami was sentenced to hang by the neck until death. He was sentenced by a special tribunal that hears unresolved cases connected to the war of liberation that technically ended on December 3, 1971. This has caused much controversy. Many have feared a new round of bloodshed in response. The Islamists will use the ruling in an attempt to rally their forces in support of dark-age barbarism. The Awami League will use any chaos to further increase their dictatorship. The empire will support both jackals against the people. A land that is wounded is more easily controlled.

Our land continues to bleed

It is important to understand our history in order to know our present. Prior to liberation, Bangladesh existed as an internal colony of Pakistan, which was also a kind of semi-colony of the Western imperialists. Thus Bangladesh was a colony or a colony so to speak. The capitalists and landlords who had the power and wealth were concentrated in Pakistan. They maintained their brutal exploitation through terror, often enforced by the most backward, feudal segments of the population. Often Islamic organizations were enlisted to terrorize the masses. Our struggle for independence came at a great price.  It is hard to know the exact number of people who died in the genocidal conflict. According to some estimates, up to three million died from indiscriminate killings. Students, activists, ordinary workers and peasants were rounded up and murdered in an attempt to break the will of the masses. At the behest of Pakistan, the Al-Shams and Al-Badr forces  attempted to wipe out the intelligencia, to erase the best minds of our country. Just days before their surrender, the Pakistan Army and Razakar militia picked up engineers, physicians, professors, and writers in Dhaka, leaving over a hundred bodies in a mass grave. Many mass graves dot the landscape even today, leftovers from the war. Hundreds of thousands of our mothers, sisters, and daughters were raped as part of Pakistan’s pacification efforts. Another ten million people are estimated to have fled from their homeland as refugees. Many more died as a result of purposeful sabotaging of relief efforts during the 1970 cyclone by Pakistan and the West. Many more died as a result of the economic disruptions of the war. Journalists and writers were murdered systematically in order to hide the brutality from the world. Yahya Khan, president of Pakistan, declared, “Kill three million of them, and the rest will eat out of our hand.” Both the West and China supported the brutal attacks on the people. Recent declassified documents reveal that the United States’ State Department referred to the movement to crush Bangladesh as a “selective genocide” in its internal discussions. Henry Kissinger, who was meeting with Mao at the time, compared the Bangladeshi leadership to another thorn in his side, Salvador Allende of Chile. Later, Allende would be brutally ousted by US-backed forces. In both cases, China lent its moral support to the Western imperialists and their allies. China was one of the first states to recognize the Pinochet regime. China also vetoed Bangladesh’s application to the United Nations on January 25, 1972. Sadly, Mao began pushing China rightward, against his own revolution. China’s alignment with imperialism occurred after the September 1971 fall of Lin Biao, who had been the main representative of the strategy of supporting wars of liberation. It was Lin Biao said:

“The struggles waged by the different peoples against U.S. imperialism reinforce each other and merge into a torrential world-wide tide of opposition to U.S. imperialism. The more successful the development of people’s war in a given region, the larger the number of U.S. imperialist forces that can be pinned down and depleted there. When the U.S. aggressors are hard pressed in one place, they have no alternative but to loosen their grip on others. Therefore, the conditions become more favourable for the people elsewhere to wage struggles against U.S. imperialism and its lackeys.

Everything is divisible. And so is this colossus of U.S. imperialism. It can be split up and defeated. The peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America and other regions can destroy it piece by piece, some striking at its head and others at its feet. That is why the greatest fear of U.S. imperialism is that people’s wars will be launched in different parts of the world, and particularly in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and why it regards people’s war as a mortal danger.”

And:

“In the final analysis, the whole cause of world revolution hinges on the revolutionary struggles of the Asian, African and Latin American peoples who make up the overwhelming majority of the world’s population.”

Unfortunately, after Lin Biao fell, China moved rightward, abandoning the revolutionary road domestically and internationally throughout the 1970s. Even though Mao had been a great revolution, he began to make big mistakes. Much of the world watched as our land bled. And our wounds are still open today. Just as many of the big imperialists that supported the killing of our people go free, just as many with blood on their hands in Pakistan continue to walk the streets,  so too do many of their collaborators, their running dogs in Bangladesh go free. Some of the biggest traitors who terrorized our people then continue to terrorize our people now. Just as the Islamists worked to enslave our people then, they continue to do so today.

Jackal vs Jackal

Ever since it was established, the tribunal has not represented the people, but rather the political winds. It is not a tool of real justice, but a tool by which one jackal bites another. On the one side, there is the Awami League, which has long since sold out its original principles. First it sold out to the Indians and Soviets, now it sells out to India and the West. First it sold our people to the Indian and Soviet bureaucrats, now it sells us to the neo-liberal capitalists of India and the West. They work with the semi-feudal landlords On the other side, there is Jamaat-e-Islami and other Islamists, who would also enslave our people to the capitalists, semi-feudal landlords, and mullahs of Pakistan. These are the same hypocrite mullahs who say “death to the West!,” as they take money from empire, especially through the Gulf Arab states and CIA. These are the mullahs who enslave our sisters and daughters like cattle. These are the mullahs who beat their own families into submission. These are the “moral” God men who threaten people with beheadings and rape in this world and threaten eternal torment in the next. They would like to see us all return to dark-age barbarism in order to weaken our country so it is more easily stolen from our children by the empire. The Awami League uses the trials as a way to shift attention away from its own corruption and betrayals, to shift attention onto the crimes of the Islamists. Jamaat-e-Islami uses the tribunal to play the victim, to shift attention onto the Awami League.

There will be no healing of old wounds until there is real justice.  The law of empire will not stop the imperialist. The law of capitalism will not stop the capitalist. The law of medievalism will not stop feudalist. The system will never fundamentally hold itself accountable. All those who have committed crimes against the masses must answer, but they must answer before the masses. All the running dogs, all the jackals of empire and barbarism, must face the people. The Islamists are guilty. The Awami League is guilty. The entire system is guilty. The Old Power has no solutions, it is a rotten to the core. It must be swept away. They must all answer for their crimes.

We see through the lies of the system. Real justice is within ourselves.  There is no greater warrior than the worker, the farmer, the intellectual who fights for people, for the land, for our future. There is no greater weapon that the sword of truth, revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism.  We all have a duty to build a better world, a New Power of the Leading Light. We fight for our children, their children, for our brothers and sisters, for our mothers and fathers. We fight for each other. Our future is our own.

Sources

http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/lin-biao/1965/09/peoples_war/

On the protests in Bangladesh: What is to be done?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangladesh_Liberation_War
http://tribune.com.pk/story/782833/bangladesh-jamaat-chief-sentenced-to-death-for-war-crimes/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/29/motiur-rahman-nizami-sentenced_n_6065966.html

On the Communist Party of India (Maoist)’s 10th Anniversary Report

On the Communist Party of India (Maoist)’s 10th Anniversary Report

(llco.org) maoists-350_110314111441_120114091008-1

The Communist Party of India (Maoist) has released a 96-page document commemorating its 10th anniversary earlier in September, 2014. The document entitled “A decade of struggle and sacrifice” offers an assessment of the current state of the Maoist war in India. The document reports that the Maoists have faced “a severe offensive” from the security forces. The Maoists admit they have lost “considerable number of comrades belonging to all levels.” The report estimates around 2,500 people associated with the movement have recently been killed. “They include hundreds of great leaders of the revolution, from the topmost level of our party to its basic levels.” And:

“Our party lost considerable number of comrades belonging to all levels, right from CC to the village level, in the offensives of the enemy. Though leadership losses began since 2005 May itself, they increased gradually after Unity Congress and the situation took a serious turn by 2011 end. The leadership failed to a large extent in defending itself and the ranks. These losses weakened the three magic weapons of NDR – the party, PLGA and the UF – quite a lot. This failure is a very severe one.”

The outlook needed for current period, according to the report,  is one similar to that of the time of “countrywide setback period during the beginning of 1970s.” The bourgeois media is reporting that the recent document confirms that the Maoist people’s war has been hurt badly in recent years by counter-insurgency such as Operation Greenhunt. (2)

It is important to have a materialist assessment of resistance movements worldwide. The CPI (Maoist) is one of the flagship organizations of the Maoist movement. Another important Maoist movement is the Communist Party of the Philippines. Both movements are engaged in popular wars of resistance against the state. However, the international Maoist movement has been in decline since at least the beginning of the 1970s when Mao shifted away from supporting people’s wars, when he shifted into an alignment with the West. This led to terrible demoralization among Maoist forces worldwide. Many movements dropped Maoism as a result. After the death of Mao and end of the Maoist era in China in 1976, the Maoist movement was in crisis. Various attempts were made to regroup the Maoist forces worldwide. Today, not only have these efforts at regroupment failed, but those movements upholding Maoism have failed to scientifically adapt to current conditions. Thus Maoists continue to see setbacks just as other revisionist trends have. Maoists today can claim no special success in their revolutionary efforts against other trends such as Marxism-Leninism. Like other revisionist trends, the Maoist movement too is at an impasse. This is reflected in the long-term decline of Maoism globally, but also in the experiences of their flagship organizations.

In an interesting passage, the CPI (Maoist) report acknowledges that the success of their opposition is a result of adapting and learning:

“The enemy has developed its counter-revolutionary war strategy and tactics (Low Intensity Conflict) drawing on worldwide experiences.” (3)

If the enemy is not afraid to update its science of oppression, why are Maoists afraid to update their science of liberation? To remain stagnant while the enemy increases its scientific capacity will only result in defeat. The revolutionary movement must adapt using the best science available or perish.

The world has significantly changed since the time Mao led his people’s war. It will not be long until a century has passed. The world has changed significantly since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in China a half century ago. Just because there has not been a revolution since Mao’s does not mean science has stopped dead in its tracks. To assert that our knowledge of how economy, society, culture and revolution work cannot advance until there is another conquest of state power by revolutionaries is pure metaphysics. If that were the case, Marx’s writings would have been dismissed in his day. There would have been no reason to support Lenin or Mao until they had won. Today, it is necessary that real communists, Leading Lights, adopt the vanguard stance. We must make a realistic analysis of material conditions, the impasse that exists, and develop the science to push revolution forward. Revolutions or not, there has been an explosion in scientific knowledge in numerous areas in the last century. It would be foolish to think that the tremendous explosion in science and technology does not have profound implications for making revolution today. It is pure metaphysics to think that making revolution today must exactly follow the cookbooks of the past.

Although we salute all popular forces of resistance, including Maoists, we recognize the limits of Maoism today. The world does not stand still. Human knowledge does not either. Leading Light Communism, the  most advanced revolutionary science today, continues to apply the correct lessons of the past while advancing and adapting our analysis, tactics, and strategy to confront reality as it exists today. Maoism today, at best, is a beginning, not an end. At best, it is step toward, a ladder to, the most advanced science of Leading Light Communism. We are the ones illuminating the way forward for humanity. Leading Light is the future.

Notes

  1. http://bannedthought.net/India/PeoplesMarch/ePM/PM-V13-Supplement-Sep2014.pdf
  2. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/maoists-chattisgarh-ganapathy-cpi-nia/1/404544.html
  3. http://bannedthought.net/India/PeoplesMarch/ePM/PM-V13-Supplement-Sep2014.pdf