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Trotsky on India
Contents: Editorial……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 2 An Open Letter to the Workers of India - Leon Trotsky (July 1939)…………………………………………………………………………. 3 The Revolution in India: Its Tasks and Dangers - Leon Trotsky (1930)……………………………………………………………………….. 6 The Classes of India and Their Political Roles: A Thesis of the Bolshevik-Leninist Party of India (1942)……………………. 10 Resolution on Pakistan: Bolshevik-Leninist Party of India (1946)……………………………………………………………………………… 15 Peasant War In China and the Proletariat – Leon Trotsky (1932)…………………………………………………………………………….. 16 Testament - Leon Trotsky (1940)……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 17 1
Editorial This is the special publication of New Wave, a revolutionary socialist organization commited to building a bolshevik leninist party in India and work towards rebuilding the 4th International. This special edition is a tribute to Leon Trotsky, the founder of the 4th International, 70 years after his assassination. We take this opportunity to honor the legacy of the Bolshevik Leninist Party of India who were the pioneers of Trotskyism in India. At this moment when India increasingly takes center stage in the International arena, these series of documents will shed light on the works of Leon Trotsky on India, and the struggle of the BLPI to build a revolutionary Bolshevik Leninist party in India and the 4th international globally.
the Kuomintang and the forces of the working class led by the Chinese Communist party. The strategy of popular frontism led to a weakening of the proletarian forces in China at a most critical time and resulted in the virtual liquidation of the then Chinese Communist party. Apart from revealing the counter revolutionary role that Stalinism had come to play the failure of the Chinese revolution provided then and still continues to provide a grim warning for the Indian revolution as to what it should expect from such alliances with the bourgeoisie. We include one of Trotsky’s works: Peasant War in China and the Proletariat (1932) that exposes the true depth of the revolutionary situation in China at that time.
opened the way for a revolutionary workers government in India that could fullfill all the needs of Indian workers and peasants against the zamindars and Indian industrialists represented by both the Congress and the Muslim League. We bring two articles from the BLPI: The Classes and parties in India and Their Political Roles: A Thesis of the BolshevikLeninist Party of India is its founding thesis adopted in 1942 as the program on which all Marxist revolutionists could form a single revolutionary party in India.
The other article is the Resolution on Pakistan (1944) in which the BLPI strongly opposes the partition being bargained between the Congress, the Muslim League and the colonialists. The In India, the representatives of the resolution is in sharp contrast to the national bourgeoisie - the Congress led by position of the then CPI which was Gandhi and Nehru, were seeking supportive of partition. Among Trotsky’s works, we selected two compromises with the colonial forces articles: An Open Letter to the Workers based in London. Meanwhile the CPI‘s In the back cover is Trotsky's Testament of India (1939) and The Revolution in revolutionary potential had already been written in February 1940, when he had India: Its Tasks and its Dangers (1930). diluted by the Stalinist led Commintern already anticipated that his death was Trotsky placed great importance to India, and when the 2nd world war started they imminent, because of either his health then the “jewel in the crown” of the actively supported the British war effort problems or Stalin's order to assassinate British empire. He believed that the against the interests of the Indian people him. In this short text, he claims his struggle for independence and land by opposing the Quit India movement in extensive revolutionary career and would combine to lead towards a 1942 thus leaving the struggle for expresses his deep confidence in the revolutionary process aiming at the independence in the hands of the working class, in Marxism and in the holistic emancipation of the Indian Congress. perspectives of socialist revolution. people from the grips of world capitalism. Onethat would become critical to the The Bolshevik Leninist Party of India was Every advanced worker should carefully destiny of the World Revolution. founded in 1942 in the heat of the Quit study these documents. Though written India movement as an adherent of the prior to India’s independence, they will His main concern was about the negative Fourth International. Following Trotsky's tell us far more about the real dynamics role of the stalinist Comintern in India advice, the new party fully integrated behind the policies of the present day represented by its national section in the itself into the struggle against British bourgeois parties of the Indian National form of the CPI. (The commintern was the imperialism. Not only did they actively Congress and that of the CPI that had World Communist Party founded by Lenin support the Quit India movement, but long retreated from revolutionary in 1919 that lost its revolutionary stand also wholeheartly supported the Naval principles. after 1924 and was dissolved by Stalin in Mutiny in 1946 which took place in all the 1943). major naval bases in India. Afraid that the The best way to honor Trotsky's and the militant struggle may evolve into a BLPI's legacy, more than just publishing In China, a revolutionary situation existed revolutionary situation both the Congress their works, is drawing the lessons and between 1925-1927 that was fully mature and the Muslim League put their efforts inspiration from these in order to build a for a proletarian revolution was defused together to end the mutiny which was bolshevik party in India together with the by the policies of the Comintern by strongly supported by the Indian masses. rebuilding the 4th International. That is following the wrong policies of popular Enough to say that the victory of the the only realizable road to the socialist frontism, namely that of an alliance with mutineers would have expelled the revolution. That is our main task now! the national bourgeosie represented by British, prevented the partition and
An Open Letter to the Workers of India Leon Trotsky (July 1939)
Leon Trotsky, Vladimir Lenin, and Lev Kamenev at the second Communist Party Congress (1919)
Dear Friends, Titanic and terrible events are approaching with implacable force. Mankind lives in expectation of war which will, of course, also draw into its maelstrom the colonial countries and which is of vital significance for their destiny. Agents of the British government depict the matter as though the war will be waged for principles of “democracy” which must be saved from fascism. All classes and peoples must rally around the “peaceful” “democratic” governments so as to repel the fascist aggressors. Then “democracy” will be saved and peace stabilized forever. This gospel rests on a deliberate lie. If the British government were really concerned with the flowering of democracy then a very simple opportunity to demonstrate this exists: let the government give complete freedom to India. The right of national independence is one of the elementary democratic rights. But actually, the London government is ready to hand over all the democracies in the world in return for one tenth of its colonies. If the Indian people do not wish to remain as slaves for all eternity, then they must expose and reject those false preachers who assert that the sole enemy of the people is fascism. Hitler and Mussolini are, beyond doubt, the bitterest enemies of the toilers and oppressed. They are gory executioners, deserving of the greatest hatred from the
toilers and oppressed of the world. But they are, before everything, the enemies of the German and Italian peoples on whose backs they sit. The oppressed classes and peoples – as Marx, Engels, Lenin and Liebknecht have taught us – must always seek out their main enemy at home, cast in the role of their own immediate oppressors and exploiters. In India that enemy above all is the British bourgeoisie. The overthrow of British imperialism would deliver a terrible blow at all the oppressors, including the fascist dictators. In the long run the imperialists are distinguished from one another in form – not in essence. German imperialism, deprived of colonies, puts on the fearful mask of fascism with its saber teeth protruding. British imperialism, gorged, because it possesses immense colonies, hides its saber teeth behind a mask of democracy. But this democracy exists only for the metropolitan center, for the 45,000,000 souls – or more correctly, for the ruling bourgeoisie – in the metropolitan center. India is deprived not only of democracy but of the most elementary right of national independence. Imperialist democracy is thus the democracy of slave owners fed by the lifeblood of the colonies. But India seeks her own democracy, and not to serve as fertilizer for the slave owners. Those who desire to end fascism, reaction and all forms of oppression must overthrow imperialism. There is no other road. This task cannot, however, be
accomplished by peaceful methods, by negotiations and pledges. Never before in history have slave owners voluntarily freed their slaves. Only a bold, resolute struggle of the Indian people for their economic and national emancipation can free India. The Indian bourgeoisie is incapable of leading a revolutionary struggle. They are closely bound up with and dependent upon British capitalism. They tremble for their own property. They stand in fear of the masses. They seek compromises with British imperialism no matter what the price and lull the Indian masses with hopes of reforms from above. The leader and prophet of this bourgeoisie is Gandhi. A fake leader and a false prophet! Gandhi and his compeers have developed a theory that India’s position will constantly improve, that her liberties will continually be enlarged and that India will gradually become a Dominion on the road of peaceful reforms. Later on, perhaps even achieve full independence. This entire perspective is false to the core. The imperialist classes were able to make concessions to colonial peoples as well as to their own workers, only so long as capitalism marched uphill, so long as the exploiters could firmly bank on the further growth of profits. Nowadays there cannot even be talk of this. World imperialism is in decline. The condition of all imperialist nations daily becomes more difficult while the contradictions between them become more and more aggravated.
Monstrous armaments devour an ever greater share of national incomes. The imperialists can no longer make serious concessions either to their own toiling masses or to the colonies. On the contrary, they are compelled to resort to an ever more bestial exploitation. It is precisely in this that capitalism’s death agony is expressed. To retain their colonies, markets and concessions, from Germany, Italy and Japan, the London government stands ready to mow down millions of people. Is it possible, without losing one’s senses, to pin any hopes that this greedy and savage financial oligarchy will voluntarily free India? True enough, a government of the socalled Labor Party may replace the Tory government. But this will alter nothing. The Labor Party – as witness its entire past and present program – is in no way distinguished from the Tories on the colonial question. The Labor Party in reality expresses not the interests of the working class, but only the interests of the British labor bureaucracy and labor aristocracy. It is to this stratum that the bourgeoisie can toss juicy morsels, due to the fact that they themselves ruthlessly exploit the colonies, above all India. The British labor bureaucracy – in the Labor Party as well as in the trade unions – is directly interested in the exploitation of colonies. It has not the slightest desire to think of the emancipation of India. All these gentlemen – Major Atlee, Sir Walter Citrine & Co. – are ready at any moment to brand the revolutionary movement of the Indian people as “betrayal”, as aid to Hitler and Mussolini and to resort to military measures for its suppression. In no way superior is the policy of the present day Communist International. To be sure, 20 years ago the Third, or Communist, International was founded as a genuine revolutionary organization. One of its most important tasks was the liberation of the colonial peoples. Only recollections today remain of this program, however. The leaders of the Communist International have long since become the mere tools of the Moscow bureaucracy which has stifled the Soviet working masses and which has become transformed into a new aristocracy. In the ranks of the Communist Parties of various countries – including India –
there are no doubt many honest workers, students, etc.: but they do not fix the politics of the Comintern. The deciding word belongs to the Kremlin which is guided not by the interests of the oppressed, but by those of the USSR’s new aristocracy. Stalin and his clique, for the sake of an alliance with the imperialist governments, have completely renounced the revolutionary program for the emancipation of the colonies. This was openly avowed at the last Congress of Stalin’s party in Moscow in March of the current year by Manuilski, one of the leaders of the Comintern, who declared: “The Communists advance to the forefront the struggle for the realization of the right of self-determination of nationalities enslaved by fascist governments. They demand free selfdetermination for Austria ... the Sudeten regions ... Korea, Formosa, Abyssinia ... .” And what about India, Indo-China, Algeria and other colonies of England and France? The Comintern representative answers this question as follows, “The Communists demand of the imperialist governments of the so called bourgeois democratic states the immediate [sic] drastic [!] improvement in the living standards of the toiling masses in the colonies and the granting of broad democratic rights and liberties to the colonies.” (Pravda, issue No.70, March 12, 1939.) In other words, as regards the colonies of England and France the Comintern has completely gone over to Gandhi’s position and the position of the conciliationist colonial bourgeoisie in general. The Comintern has completely renounced revolutionary struggle for India’s independence. It “demands” (on its hands and knees) the “granting” of “democratic liberties” to India by British imperialism. The words “immediate drastic improvement in the living standards of the toiling masses in the colonies”, have an especially false and cynical ring. Modern capitalism – declining, gangrenous, disintegrating – is more and more compelled to worsen the position of workers in the metropolitan center itself. How then can it improve the position of the toilers in the colonies from whom it is compelled to squeeze out all the juices of life so as to maintain its own state of equilibrium? The
improvement of the conditions of the toiling masses in the colonies is possible only on the road to the complete overthrow of imperialism. But the Communist International has traveled even further on this road of betrayal. Communists, according to Manuilski, “subordinate the realization of this right of secession ... in the interests of defeating fascism.” In other words, in the event of war between England and France over colonies, the Indian people must support their present slave owners, the British imperialists. That is to say, must shed their blood not for their own emancipation, but for the preservation of the rule of “the City” over India. And these cheaply to be bought scoundrels dare to quote Marx and Lenin! As a matter of fact, their teacher and leader is none other than Stalin, the head of a new bureaucratic aristocracy, the butcher of the Bolshevik Party, the strangler of workers and peasants. *** The Stalinists cover up their policy of servitude to British, French and USA imperialism with the formula of “People’s Front”. What a mockery of the people! “People’s Front” is only a new name for that old policy, the gist of which lies in class collaboration, in a coalition between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. In every such coalition, the leadership invariably turns out to be in the hands of the right wing, that is, in the hands of the propertied class. The Indian bourgeoisie, as has already been stated, wants a peaceful horse trade and not a struggle. Coalition with the bourgeoisie leads to the proletariat’s abnegating the revolutionary struggle against imperialism. The policy of coalition implies marking time on one spot, temporizing, cherishing false hopes, engaging in hollow maneuvers and intrigues. As a result of this policy disillusionment inevitably sets in among the working masses, while the peasants turn their backs on the proletariat, and fall into apathy. The German revolution, the Austrian revolution, the Chinese revolution and the Spanish revolution have all perished as a result of the policy of coalition.  The self same danger also menaces the Indian revolution where the Stalinists, under the guise of “People’s Front”, are putting across a
policy of subordinating the proletariat to the bourgeoisie. This signifies, in action, a rejection of the revolutionary agrarian program, a rejection of arming the workers, a rejection of the struggle for power, a rejection of revolution. In the event that the Indian bourgeoisie finds itself compelled to take even the tiniest step on the road of struggle against the arbitrary rule of Great Britain, the proletariat will naturally support such a step. But they will support it with their own methods: mass meetings, bold slogans, strikes, demonstrations and more decisive combat actions, depending on the relationship of forces and the circumstances. Precisely to do this must the proletariat have its hands free. Complete independence from the bourgeoisie is indispensable to the proletariat, above all in order to exert influence on the peasantry, the predominant mass of India’s population. Only the proletariat is capable of advancing a bold, revolutionary agrarian program, of rousing and rallying tens of millions of peasants and leading them in struggle against the native oppressors and British imperialism. The alliance of workers and poor peasants is the only honest, reliable alliance that can assure the final victory of the Indian revolution. *** All peacetime questions will preserve their full force in time of war, except that they will be invested with a far sharper expression. First of all, exploitation of the colonies will become greatly intensified. The metropolitan centers will not only pump from the colonies foodstuffs and raw materials, but they will also mobilize vast numbers of colonial slaves who are to die on the battlefields for their masters. Meanwhile, the colonial bourgeoisie will have its snout deep in the trough of war orders and will naturally renounce opposition in the name of patriotism and profits. Gandhi is already preparing the ground for such a policy. These gentlemen will keep drumming: “We must wait patiently till the war ends – and then London will reward us for the assistance we have given.” As a matter of fact, the imperialists will redouble and triple their exploitation of the toilers both at home and especially in the colonies so as to rehabilitate the country after the havoc
and devastation of the war. In these circumstances there cannot even be talk of new social reforms in the metropolitan centers or of grants of liberties to the colonies. Double chains of slavery – that will be the inevitable consequence of the war if the masses of India follow the politics of Gandhi, the Stalinists and their friends. The war, however, may bring to India as well as to the other colonies not a redoubled slavery but,’ on the contrary, complete liberty: the proviso for this is a correct revolutionary policy. The Indian people must divorce their fate from the very outset from that of British imperialism. The oppressors and the oppressed stand on opposite sides of the trenches. No aid whatsover to the slave owners! On the contrary, those immense difficulties which the war will bring in its wake must be utilized so as to deal a mortal blow to all the ruling classes. That is how the oppressed classes and peoples in all countries should act, irrespective of whether Messrs. Imperialists don democratic or fascist masks. To realize such a policy a revolutionary party, basing itself on the vanguard of the proletariat, is necessary. Such a party does not yet exist in India. The Fourth International offers this party its program, its experience, its collaboration. The basic conditions for this party are: complete independence from imperialist democracy, complete independence from the Second and Third Internationals and complete independence from the national Indian bourgeoisie. In a number of colonial and semi-colonial countries sections of the Fourth International already exist and are making successful progress. First place among them is unquestionably held by our section in French Indo-China which is conducting an irreconcilable struggle against French imperialism and “People’s Front” mystifications. “The Stalinist leaders,” it is stated in the newspaper of the Saigon workers (The Struggle – La Lutte), of April 7, 1939, “have taken yet another step on the road of betrayal. Throwing off their masks as revolutionists, they have become champions of imperialism and openly speak out against emancipation of the oppressed colonial peoples.” Owing to their bold revolutionary politics, the
Saigon proletarians, members of the Fourth International, scored a brilliant victory over the bloc of the ruling party and the Stalinists at the elections to the colonial council held in April of this year. The very same policy ought to be pursued by the advanced workers of British India. We must cast away false hopes and repel false friends. We must pin hope only upon ourselves, our own revolutionary forces. The struggle for national independence, for an independent Indian republic is indissolubly linked up with the agrarian revolution, with the nationalization of banks and trusts, with a number of other economic measures aiming to raise the living standard of the country and to make the toiling masses the masters of their own destiny. Only the proletariat in an alliance with the peasantry is capable of executing these tasks. In its initial stage the revolutionary party will no doubt comprise a tiny minority. In contrast to other parties, however, it will render a cleat accounting of the situation and fearlessly march towards its great goal. It is indispensable in all the industrial centers and cities to establish workers groups, standing under the banner of the Fourth International. Only those intellectuals who have completely come over to the side of the proletariat must be allowed into these groups. Alien to sectarian self-immersion, the revolutionary worker – Marxists must actively participate in the work of the trade unions, educational societies, the Congress Socialist Party and, in general, all mass organizations. Everywhere they remain as the extreme left wing, everywhere they set the example of courage in action, everywhere, in a patient and comradely manner, they explain their program to the workers, peasants and revolutionary intellectuals. Impending events will come to the aid of the Indian Bolshevik-Leninists, revealing to the masses the correctness of their path. The party will grow swiftly and become tempered in the fire. Allow me to express my firm hope that the revolutionary struggle for the emancipation of India will unfold under the banner of the Fourth International. With warmest comradely greetings, Leon Trotsky, Coyoacan, Mexico, July 25, 1939
The Revolution in India: Its Tasks and Dangers Leon Trotsky (Written on 30th May, 1930 and published in Byulleten Oppozitsii, June-July 1930) India is the classic colonial country as Britain is the classic metropolis. All the viciousness of the ruling classes, every form of oppression that capitalism has applied against the backward peoples of the East is most completely and frightfully summed up in the history of the gigantic colony on which the British imperialists have settled themselves like leeches to drink its blood for the past century and a half. The British bourgeoisie has diligently fostered every remnant of barbarism, every institution of the Middle Ages which could be of service in the oppression of man by man. It forced its feudal agents to adapt themselves to colonial capitalist exploitation, to become its links, its organs, its convoys to the masses. The British imperialists boast of their railroads, their canals and industrial enterprises in India in which they have invested close to four billion gold dollars. Apologists for imperialism triumphantly compare present day India with what it was prior to colonial occupation. But who can doubt for a moment that a gifted nation of 320,000,000 people would develop immeasurably quicker and more successfully were it freed from the burden of systematic and organized plunder? It is enough to recall the four billion gold dollars which represent the British investment in India to imagine what Britain extracts from India in the course of only some five or six years. Allowing India carefully weighed doses of technique and culture, exactly enough to facilitate the exploitation of the riches of the country, the Shylock of the Thames could not however prevent the ideas of economic and national independence and freedom from penetrating more and more widely into the masses. Just as in the older bourgeois countries, the various nationalities that exist in India can only be fused into a nation by means of a binding political revolution. But in contradistinction to the older countries, this revolution in India is a colonial revolution directed against foreign oppressors. Besides this, it is the
revolution of a historically belated nation in which the relations of feudal serfdom, caste divisions and even slavery exist alongside of the class antagonisms of the bourgeoisie and proletariat which have grown greatly in the last period. The colonial character of the Indian revolution against one of the most powerful oppressors masks to a certain extent the internal social antagonisms of the country, particularly to the eyes of those to whom such masking is advantageous. In reality the necessity of throwing off the system of imperialist oppression, with all its roots intertwined with the old Indian exploitation, demands the greatest revolutionary effort on the part of the Indian masses and by that itself assures a gigantic swing of the class struggle. British imperialism will not abandon its positions voluntarily; while dropping its tail before America, it will direct the remains of its energy and its resources against insurgent India. What an instructive historical lesson it is that the Indian revolution, even in its present stage, when it has not yet broken loose from the treacherous leadership of the national bourgeoisie, is being crushed by the ‘socialist’ government of MacDonald. The bloody repressions of these scoundrels of the Second International who promise to introduce socialism peacefully in their own home countries represent so far that small deposit which British imperialism brings in today on its future accounting in India. The sweet social democratic deliberations about reconciling the interests of bourgeois Britain with democratic India are a necessary supplement to the bloody repressions of MacDonald, who is of course ready, between executions, for the thousand-and-first commission of reconciliation. The British bourgeoisie understands too well that the loss of India would not only mean the crash of its sufficiently rotted world power but also a social collapse in its own metropolis. It is a struggle of life and death. All forces will be set in motion. This means that the revolution will have
to mobilize irresistible energy. The manymillioned mass has already begun to stir. They showed their half-blind force to such an extent that the national bourgeoisie was compelled to come out of its passivity and master the movement in order to break the edge of the revolutionary sword. Gandhi’s passive resistance is the tactical knot that combines the naivete and self-denying blindness of the disunited and petty bourgeois masses with the treacherous manoeuvres of the liberal bourgeoisie. The fact that the chairman of the Indian Legislative Assembly, that is, the official organ of the machinations with imperialism, gave up his post to head the movement for the boycott of British goods, is of a deeply symbolic character. ‘We will prove to you,’ say the national bourgeoisie to the gentlemen on the Thames, ‘that we are indispensable for you, that without us you will not calm the masses; but for this we will present you with our own bill.’ By way of reply, MacDonald puts Gandhi in jail. It is possible that the lackey goes further than the master intends, being conscientious beyond reason in order to justify his faith. It is possible that the Conservatives, serious and experienced imperialists, would not at the present stage go so far with repressions. But on the other hand the national leaders of the passive opposition are themselves in need of repression as support for their considerably shaken reputations. MacDonald does them this service. While shooting down workers and peasants, he arrests Gandhi with an abundance of forewarning such as the Russian provisional government used to arrest the Kornilovs and Denikins. If India is a component element in the internal rule of the British bourgeoisie, then on the other hand, the imperialist rule of British capital over India is a component element of the internal order of India. The question cannot at all be reduced to one of the mere expulsion of some tens of thousands of foreign exploiters. They cannot be separated
from the internal oppressors and the harder the pressure of the masses will become the less will the latter want to separate. Just as in Russia the liquidation of Tsarism together with its indebtedness to world finance capital became possible only because to the peasantry the abolition of the monarchy grew out of the abolition of the landowning magnates, to the same degree also in India the struggle with imperialist oppressions grows out of the countless masses of the oppressed and semi-pauperized peasantry, out of the necessity of liquidating the feudal landlords, their agents and intermediaries, the chinovniks and sharks. The Indian peasant wants a ‘just’ distribution of land. That is the basis of democratism. And this is at the same time the social basis of the democratic revolution as a whole. At the first stages of their struggle the ignorant, inexperienced and disunited peasantry which, in single villages, opposes the individual representatives of the hated regime, always resorts to passive resistance. It does not pay rent, does not pay taxes, it escapes to the woods, or deserts from military service, etc. The Tolstoyan formulae of passive resistance were in a sense the first stages of the revolutionary awakening of the peasant masses. Gandhi does the same in regard to the masses of the Indian people. The more ‘sincere’ he is personally, the more useful he is for the owners as an instrument for the disciplining of the masses. The support of the bourgeoisie for peaceful resistance to imperialism is only a preliminary condition for its bloody resistance to the revolutionary masses. From passive forms of struggle, the peasantry has more than once in history passed over to the severest and bloodiest wars against their direct enemies: the land owners, the authorities and the loan sharks. The Middle Ages were full of such peasant wars in Europe; but they are also full of merciless suppression of peasant wars. Passive resistance of the peasantry as well as its bloody uprisings can be turned into a revolution only under the leadership of the urban class which thus becomes the leader of the revolutionary nation and after the victory—the bearers of the revolutionary power. In the present epoch such a class can be only the proletariat, even in the Orient. It is true that the Indian proletariat occupy a smaller numerical place in the
composition of the population than even the Russian proletariat on the eve of 1905 and 1917. This comparatively small size of the proletariat was the main argument of all the philistines, all the Martinovs, all the Mensheviks against the perspective of the permanent revolution. They considered fantastic the very thought that the Russian proletariat, thrusting the bourgeois aside, would take hold of the agrarian revolution of the peasantry, would give it a bold swing, and rise on its wave to the revolutionary dictatorship. Therefore they considered realistic the hope that the liberal bourgeoisie, leaning on the masses of the city and village, would complete the democratic revolution. But it turned out that their social statistics of the population are far from measuring the economic or the political role of single classes. The October revolution, by experience, has proved this once and for all and very convincingly. If today the Indian proletariat is numerically weaker than the Russian this in itself does not at all pre-determine the smaller swing of its revolutionary possibilities, just as the numerical weakness of the Russian proletariat compared to the American and British was no hindrance to the dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia. On the contrary all those social peculiarities which made possible and unavoidable the October revolution are present in India in a still sharper form. In this country of poor peasants, the hegemony of the city has no less clear a character than in tsarist Russia. The concentration of industrial, commercial and banking power in the hands of the big bourgeoisie, primarily the foreign bourgeoisie, on the one hand; a swift growth of a sharply-defined proletariat, on the other, excludes the possibility of an independent role of the petty bourgeoisie of the city and to an extent the intellectuals and transforms by this the political mechanics of the revolution into a struggle of the proletariat with the bourgeoisie for the leadership of the peasant masses. So far there is ‘only’ one condition missing: a Bolshevik Party. And that is where the problem lies now. We were witnesses to the way the leadership of Stalin and Bukharin carried out the Menshevik conception of the democratic revolution in China. Armed with a powerful apparatus this leadership had the opportunity of applying the
Menshevik formulae in deeds and by that alone was compelled to carry them to a conclusion. In order best to secure the leading role of the bourgeoisie in the bourgeois revolution (this is the basic idea of Russian Menshevism!) the Stalinist bureaucracy transformed the young Communist Party of China into a subordinate section of the national bourgeois party. In connection with that, according to the terms officially arrived at between Stalin and Chiang Kai-shek (through the intermediary of the present People’s Commissar of Education, Bubnov), the Communists had no right to occupy more than one third of the posts within the Kuomintang. The Party of the proletariat this way entered the revolution as an official captive of the bourgeoisie with the blessings of the CI. The result is known: the Stalinist bureaucracy slew the Chinese revolution. History has never known a political crime equal in extent to this one. For India, just as for all countries of the Orient in general, Stalin advanced in 1924 simultaneously with the reactionary idea of socialism in one country, the no less reactionary idea of ‘dual composition worker and peasant parties’. This was another formula for the same rejection of independent policy and of an independent party of the proletariat. The unfortunate Roy, has ever since that time become the apostle of the super-class and supra-class ‘peoples’ or ‘democratic’ party. The history of Marxism, the development of the nineteenth century, the experience of the three Russian revolutions, everything passed for these gentlemen without leaving a trace. They have not yet understood that the ‘worker-peasant party’ is conceivable only in the form of a Kuomintang, that is in the form of a bourgeois party leading behind itself the workers and peasants in order later on to betray and crush them. History has not yet invented another type of a supra-class, or intra-class party. After all, not in vain was Roy the agent of Stalin in China, the prophet of the struggle against ‘Trotskyism’, the executor of the Martinovist ‘bloc of four classes’, in order to become the ritualistic scapegoat for the crimes of the Stalinist bureaucracy, after the inevitable defeat of the Chinese revolution. Six years passed in India in weakening and demoralizing experiments with the realization of the Stalinist prescription for the two-class workerpeasant parties. The results are at hand:
impotent, provincial ‘worker-peasant parties’, which waver, limp along or simply melt away and are reduced to nothing precisely at a moment when they are supposed to act, that is, at a moment of revolutionary tide. But there is no proletarian party. It must still be created in the fire of events and at that it will be first necessary to remove the garbage piled up by the leading bureaucracy. Such is the situation! Beginning with 1924, the leadership of the Comintern has done everything that could be done to render impotent the Indian proletariat, to weaken the will of the vanguard, and to clip its wings. While Roy and the other Stalinist pupils were wasting precious years in order to elaborate a democratic programme for a supra-class party, the national bourgeoisie utilized this dawdling to the maximum in order to seize the trade unions. If not politically, then in the trade unions, the Kuomintang has been accomplished in India, true, with the difference that the creators have in the meantime become frightened by their own handiwork, and have jumped aside heaping slander on the ‘executors’. This time the centrists jumped, as is known, to the ‘Left’, but matters did not improve by this. The official position of the Comintern on the questions of the Indian revolution is such a tangled ball of yarn which is apparently intended especially to derail the proletarian vanguard and bring it to despair. At any rate, half of it goes on because the leadership strives constantly and willfully to conceal its mistakes of yesterday. The second half of the tangle must be credited to the hapless nature of centrism. We have in mind at present not the programme of the Comintern which ascribes to the colonial bourgeoisie a revolutionary role, completely approving the constructions of Brandler and Roy who still continue to wear the MartinovStalin cloak. We also do not speak of the innumerable editions of the StalinistQuestions of Leninism where, in all the languages of the world, the discourse on the dual composition worker and peasant parties continues. No. We limit ourselves to the present, to today’s latest posing of the question which is in conformity with the Third Period mistakes of the Comintern in the Orient. The central slogan of the Stalinists for India, as well as for China, still remains
the democratic dictatorship of the workers and peasants. Nobody knows, nobody explains, because nobody understands what this formula signifies at present, in the year 1930, after the experience of the past fifteen years. In what way is the democratic dictatorship of the workers and peasants supposed to be distinguished from the dictatorship of the Kuomintang which massacred the workers and peasants? The Manuilskys and Kuusinens, will perhaps answer that they now talk about the dictatorship of three classes (workers, peasants and the city petty bourgeoisie) and not four as it was in China where Stalin had so happily attracted to the bloc his ally, Chiang Kaishek. If so, we reply, then make an effort to explain to us why you reject the national bourgeoisie in India, that is that ally for the rejection of whom in China you expelled Bolsheviks from the Communist Party and then imprisoned them? China is a semi-colonial country. In China, there is no powerful caste of feudal lords and feudal agents. But India is a classic colonial country with a mighty heritage of the feudal caste regime. If the revolutionary role of the Chinese bourgeoisie was deduced by Stalin and Martinov from the presence in China of foreign oppression and feudal remnants, then for India each of these reasons should hold with doubled force. This means that the Indian bourgeoisie, according to the exact basis of the programme of the Comintern, has immeasurably more rights to demand its inclusion in the Stalinist bloc than the Chinese bourgeoisie with its unforgettable Chiang Kai-shek and the ‘true’ Wang Ching-Wei. And if this is not so, if in spite of the oppression of British imperialism and the whole heritage of the Middle Ages, the Indian bourgeoisie is capable only of a counter-revolutionary and not a revolutionary role—then condemn mercilessly your treacherous policy in China and correct immediately your programme in which this policy has left cowardly but sinister traces! But this does not exhaust the question. If in India you construct a bloc without the bourgeoisie and against the bourgeoisie, then who will lead it? The Manuilskys and Kuusinens will perhaps answer with their characteristically gentle ardour: ‘The proletariat, of course!’ Good, we answer, it is quite complimentary. But if the Indian revolution will develop on a basis
of a union of workers, peasants and the petty bourgeoisie; if this union will be directed not only against imperialism, feudalism, but also against the national bourgeoisie which is bound up with them in all basic questions; if at the head of this union will stand the proletariat, if this union comes to victory only by sweeping away the enemies through armed uprising and in this way raises the proletariat to the role of the real allnational leader—then the question arises: in whose hands will the power be after the victory if not in the hands of the proletariat? What is the significance in such a case of the democratic dictatorship of the workers and peasants in distinction to the dictatorship of the proletariat leading the peasantry? In other words: in what way will the hypothetical dictatorship of the workers and peasants be distinguished in its type from the actual dictatorship which the October revolution established? There is no reply to this question. There can be no reply to it. By this course of historical development the ‘democratic dictatorship’ has become not only an empty fiction but a treacherous trap for the proletariat. That slogan is correct which admits the possibility of two diametrically opposed explanations: in the sense of the dictatorship of the Kuomintang and in the sense of the October dictatorship! There can be nothing in between these two. In China, the Stalinists explained the democratic dictatorship twice, at first as a dictatorship of the Kuomintang of the Right, and afterwards of the Left. But how do they explain it in India? They are silent. They are compelled to keep silent for fear of opening the eyes of their supporters to their crimes. This conspiracy of silence is actually a conspiracy against the Indian revolution. And all the present extremely Left or ultra-Left noise does not improve the situation one iota for the victories of the revolution are not secured by noise and clatter but by political clarity. But what has been said does not yet unwind the tangled yarn. No. Here is precisely where new threads are twisted into it. Giving the revolution an abstract democratic character and permitting it to pass to the dictatorship of the proletariat only after some sort of a mystical or mystifying ‘democratic dictatorship’ is established, our strategists at the same time reject the central political slogan of
every revolutionary democratic movement, which is precisely the slogan of the Constituent Assembly. Why? On what basis? It is absolutely incomprehensible. The democratic revolution signifies equality to the peasant—above all equality in the distribution of land. On this is based the equality of rights. The Constituent Assembly, where the representatives of the whole people formally draw the balance with the past and the classes actually draw the balance with each other, is the natural and inevitable combination of the democratic tasks of the revolution not only in the consciousness of the awakening masses of the peasantry but also in the consciousness of the working class itself. We have spoken of this more fully with regard to China and we do not see here the necessity of repetition. Let us only add that the provincial multiformity of India, the variegated governmental forms, and their no less variegated bond with the feudal caste relations, saturates the slogan of the Constituent Assembly in India with a particularly deep revolutionary democratic content. The theoretician of the Indian revolution in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union at present is Safarov, who with the price of a happy capitulation transferred his injurious activities to the camp of centrism. In a programmatic article in the Bolshevik about the forces and tasks of the revolution in India, Safarov carefully circles around the question of the Constituent Assembly just like an experienced rat circles around a piece of cheese on a hook: this sociologist does not by any means want to fall into the Trotskyist trap a second time. Disposing of the problem without much ceremony he counterposes to the Constituent Assembly such a perspective: "The development of a new revolutionary ascent on the basis of struggle for the proletarian hegemony leads to the conclusion that the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry in India can be achieved only in the Soviet form." (Bolshevik, 1930, No. 5, page 100). Amazing lines! Martinov multiplied by Safarov. Martinov we know and about Safarov Lenin said not without tenderness: ‘Safarchick will go Leftist, Safarchik will pull boners.’ The abovementioned Safarovist perspective does not invalidate this characterization. Safarov has gone considerably Leftist and
it must be admitted that he did not upset the second half of Lenin’s formula. To begin with, the question of the revolutionary ascent of the masses of the people develops ‘on the basis’ of the struggle of the Communists for proletarian hegemony. The whole process is turned on its head. We think that the proletarian vanguard enters or is preparing to enter or should enter a struggle for hegemony on the basis of a new revolutionary ascent. The perspective of struggle, according to Safarov, is the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry. Here, for the sake of Leftism, the word ‘democratic’ is shaken off. But it is not said frankly what kind of a dual composition dictatorship this is: a Kuomintang or an October type. But for that we are assured on his word of honour that this dictatorship can be accomplished ‘only in the Soviet form’. It sounds very noble. Why the slogan of the Constituent Assembly? Safarov is ready to agree only with the Soviet ‘form’. The essence of epigonism—its contemptible and sinister essence—lies in the fact that from the actual processes of the past and its lessons it abstracts only the bare form and converts it into a fetish. This is what has happened to the Soviets. Without saying anything about the class character of the dictatorship—a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie over the proletariat, like the Kuomintang, or a dictatorship of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie, like the October?—Safarov lulls somebody and primarily himself, by the Soviet form of the dictatorship. As if the Soviets cannot be a weapon for deceiving the workers and peasants! What else were the Menshevik-Socialist Revolutionary Soviets of 1917? Nothing but a weapon for the support of the power of the bourgeoisie and the preparation of its dictatorship. What were the social democratic Soviets in Germany and Austria in 1918-1919? Organs for saving the bourgeoisie and for deceiving the workers. With the further development of the revolutionary movement in India, with the greater swing of mass struggles and with the weakness of the Communist Party—and the latter is inevitable with a Safarovist muddle prevailing in its mind—the Indian national bourgeoisie itself may create workers’ and peasants’ Soviets in order to direct them just as it now directs the trade unions, in order thus to slaughter the revolution as the German social
democracy, by getting at the head of the Soviets, slaughtered it. The treacherous character of the slogan of the democratic dictatorship lies in the fact that it does not close tightly to the enemies, once and for all, such a possibility. The Indian Communist Party, the creation of which was held back for six years—and what years!—is now deprived, in the circumstances of revolutionary democratic ascent, of one of the most important weapons for mobilizing the masses, precisely the slogan of the democratic Constituent Assembly. Instead of that, the young Party which has not yet taken its first steps is inflicted with the abstract slogan of Soviets as a form of abstract dictatorship, that is, a dictatorship of nobody knows what class. It is truly an apotheosis of confusion! And all this is accompanied as usual with disgusting colouring and sugaring of an as yet difficult and not in the least sweet situation. The official press, particularly this same Safarov, depicts the situation as if bourgeois nationalism in India is already a corpse, as if communism either has got or is getting at the head of the proletariat, which, in its turn, is already almost leading the peasantry behind it. The leaders and their sociologists, in the most conscienceless manner, proclaim the desired as the existing. To put it more correctly, they proclaim that which might have been with a correct policy for the past six years, for what has actually developed as a result of the false policy. But when the inconsistency of the inventions and realities are revealed, the ones to be blamed will be the Indian Communists, as bad executors of the general inconsistency which is advanced as a general line. The vanguard of the Indian proletariat is as yet at the threshold of its great tasks and there is a long road ahead. A series of defeats will be the reckoning not only for the general backwardness of the proletariat and the peasantry but also for the sins of the leadership. The chief task at present is a clear Marxist conception of the moving forces of the revolution, and a correct perspective, a far-sighted policy which rejects stereotyped, bureaucratic prescriptions, but which, in the accomplishment of great revolutionary tasks, carefully adjusts itself to the actual stages of the political awakening and the revolutionary growth of the working class.
The Classes of India and Their Political Roles: A Thesis of the Bolshevik-Leninist Party of India HMIS Talwar at Bombay Harbor, where the Mutiny Started in 1946
The Native Princes The revolt of 1857 represented the last attempt of the old feudal ruling class of India to throw off the British yoke. This revolt, which despite its reactionary leadership laid bare the depth of mass discontent and unrest, alarmed the British rulers, and led to a radical change in policy in India. Seeking for bases of social and political support, the British abandoned the policy of annexing the Indian states within British India, instead guaranteeing the remnants of the feudal rulers their privileged and parasitic positions in innumerable petty principalities, buttressing their power and protecting them against the masses, and receiving in return the unqualified support of these elements for the British rule. The princes of the Indian states, maintained at the cost of a chaotic multiplication of administrative units, are today only the corrupt and dependent tools of British imperialism, and the feudatory states, checkerboarding all India as they do, are no more than a vast network of fortresses erected by the British in their own defense. The variety of the states and jurisdiction of the feudal princes defies a generalized description, but they bolster alike the reactionary policies of imperialism in India. The despotism and misgovernment practiced by the great majority of these rulers in their territories have created and perpetuated conditions of backwardness extreme even in India, including the most primitive forms of feudalism and slavery itself. Their collective interests are represented by the Chamber of
Princes, instituted in 1921, which is the most reactionary political body in India. The Landlords The most solid supporters of British rule in India, after the princes, are the landlords. In fact the majority of the princes are no more themselves than glorified landlords, playing the same parasitic role as the landlords of British India. The landlords of India have a record of medieval oppression, of rackrenting and usury, and of unbridled gangsterism over a disarmed peasantry, which has made them the most hated exploiters in India. The rapid extension of landlordism in modern times through the development of intermediary and new parasitic classes on the peasantry, has not only increased the numbers of those who receive land rents, but firmly linked their interests with those of the Indian capitalist class, by ties of investment and mortgage. The political role of the landlords has always been one of complete subservience to British imperialism, as well as the greatest obstacle in the Way of agricultural development which demands a thorough-going democratic revolution in the agrarian field and the liquidation of landlordism in all its forms. The second half of the nineteenth century saw the rise of an Indian capitalist class in Bombay and other industrial centers. The Indian bourgeoisie of the early period, conscious of its own weakness and dependent position in economy, offered no challenge whatever to British rule. But the deep economic conflict between
their own interests and those of their British competitors drove them from the first decade of the twentieth century, to utilize the national political movement to strengthen their bargaining power against British imperialism. The Indian Bourgeoisie The bourgeoisie, in the absence of any competing class and especially of an independent proletarian movement, assumed complete leadership of the national political movement through its party, the Indian National Congress. The bourgeois leadership of the movement was clearly demonstrated in 1905, by the choice of the economic boycott of foreign goods as the method of struggle against the partition of Bengal. The aims of the bourgeoisie were defined during this period as the attainment of â€œcolonial self-government within the Empireâ€? as junior partners of the imperialists. They abandoned the struggle and adopted a policy of cooperation with the British after the grant of the MorleyMinte reforms, their own aims being satisfied for the moment. The last years following the first World War, and the years which immediately followed it, were marked by the development, for the first time since 1857, of a mass struggle on a national scale against imperialism based on the discontent and unrest of the peasantry and the working class. This discontent was especially marked in Bombay, where the wave of working-class strikes was on a scale hitherto unknown in India, and reached its highest point in
1920 for which year the number of strikes reached the gigantic total of 1½ millions. The Montague-Chemsford reforms were designed to meet this rising threat by buying off the bourgeois leadership, and they succeeded to an extent, that section of the bourgeoisie who wanted whole-hearted cooperation with the government seceding from the Congress to form the Liberal Federation (1918). But the growth of the mass movement compelled the Congress bourgeoisie either to enter the struggle or be isolated from the masses. Launching under its own banner the passive resistance movement, and later the mass civil disobedience movement of 1921-22, the Congress entered the struggle, but only to betray it from the inside. The mass movement which, despite its timid and unwilling leadership, had attained the undeniable character of a mass revolt against the British Raj, was abruptly called off when at its height by the bourgeois leader Gandhi, and a period of demoralization followed for the masses. The reactionary and treacherous character of the bourgeois leadership was shown clearly in the Bardoli Resolution of 1922, which condemned the no-tax campaign of the peasantry and insisted on the continuation of rent payments to the landlords, assuring the zamindars (landlords) that the Congress “had no intention of attacking their legal rights.” The bourgeoisie thus demonstrated its reactionary attitude toward the land question in which lies the main driving force to revolution in India. With the worsening conditions of the late 20’s, the mass struggle developed again at a rising tempo, and was again led to defeat by the Congress (1930-34). The aims of the new struggle were limited by Gandhi beforehand to the celebrated 11 points which represented exclusively the most urgent demands of the Indian bourgeoisie. Nevertheless the movement developed in 1930 far beyond the limits laid down for it by the Congress, with rising strikes, powerful mass demonstrations, the Chittagong Armory raid, and the risings at Peshawar and Sholapur. Gandhi declared openly to the Viceroy that he was fighting as much
against the rising forms of revolt as against the British imperialists. The aim of the bourgeoisie was henceforward to secure concessions from imperialism at the price of betraying the mass struggle in which they saw a real and growing threat to themselves. The Gandhi-Irwin settlement was a settlement against the mass movement, and paved the way for a terrific repression which fell on the movement during its ebb in 1932-34. Since 1934 Gandhi and the leaders of the Congress have had as their chief aim that of preventing the renewal of a mass struggle against imperialism, while using their leadership of the national movement as a lever to secure the concessions they hope to obtain from imperialism. They see in the rising forces of revolt, and especially in the emergence of the working class as a political force, a threat to their own bases of exploitation, and are consequently following an increasingly reactionary policy. Reorganizing the party administration so as to secure to the big bourgeoisie the unassailable position of leadership (1934), they transferred the center of activities to the parliamentary field and to working the new Constitution in such a way as to secure the maximum benefits to the bourgeoisie, until the intransigence of the British parliament and the Indian government in the war situation and the withdrawal of many of the political concessions of provincial autonomy again forced the Congress into opposition (1939). The Congress bourgeoisie then engaged in a restricted campaign of individual “non-violent” civil disobedience with narrowly defined bourgeois aims, and under the dictatorial control of Gandhi himself. By this move they hoped to prevent the development of a serious mass struggle against imperialism, the leadership of which will be bound to pass into other hands. The main instrument whereby the Indian bourgeoisie seeks to maintain control over the national movement is the Indian National Congress, the classic party of the Indian capitalist class, seeking as it does the support of the petty bourgeoisie and if possible of the workers, for its own aims. Despite the
fact that under these conditions revolutionary and semi-revolutionary elements still remain within the fold of the Congress, despite its mass membership (five millions in 1939), and despite the demagogic programmatic pronouncements (Constituent Assembly, Agrarian Reform) which the Congress has repeatedly made, the direction of its policy remains exclusively in the hands of the bourgeoisie as also the control of the party organization, as was dramatically proved at Tripuri and after. The Indian National Congress in its social composition, its organization, and above all in its political leadership can be compared to the Kuomintang, which led the Chinese revolution of 192527 to its betrayal and defeat. The characterization of the Indian National Congress as a multi-class party, as the “National United Front,” or as “a platform rather than a party,” is a flagrant deception and calculated only to hand over to the bourgeoisie in advance the leadership of the coming struggle, and so make its betrayal and defeat a foregone conclusion. The more open reactionary interests of the Indian bourgeÃ±sie find expression in many organizations which exist side by side with the Congress. Thus the Liberal Federation (1918) represents those bourgeois elements who cooperate openly with the imperialists. The sectional interests of the propertied classes are represented by various communal organizations, notably the Moslem League (1905) and the Hindu Maha Sabaha (1925) which are dominated by large landlords and bourgeois interests and pursue a reactionary policy in all social and economic issues, deriving a measure of mass support by an appeal to the religious and communal sentiments of the backward masses. The Petty-Bourgeois Intelligentsia Because of their position of dependence on the capitalist class, and in the absence of a real challenge to their leadership from the proletariat, the various elements of the urban petty bourgeoisie and of the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia have always played a satellite role to the bourgeoisie. The
radicalization of the petty bourgeoisie under imperialism found its first and strongest expression in the prolonged terrorist movement in Bengal and elsewhere, the failure of which, despite the heroism of its protagonists, demonstrated finally the utter inability of the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia to find an independent solution of its own problems. Today the urban petty bourgeoisie finds its political reflection mainly in the various organizations within the fold of, or under the influence of the Indian National Congress, such as the Forward Bloc, the Congress Socialist Party, the Radical Democratic Party of M.N. Roy, etc. Within the Congress, the pettybourgeois leaders have repeatedly lent themselves to be used by the bourgeoisie as a defensive coloration before the masses, bridging with their radical phrases and irresponsible demagogy the gap between the reactionary Congress leadership and the hopes and aspirations of the masses. Thus the demagogy of Bose and Nehru, as well as the “socialist” phrases of M.N. Roy and the Congress Socialist Party, to say nothing of the “Marxism” of the National United Fronters of the Communist Party of India, have in turn served the Gandhian leaders as a smoke screen for their own reactionary maneuvers. The humiliating capitulation of the Congress Socialist Party to the Congress leadership, the conversion of M.N. Roy and his Radical Democrats to imperialist war-mongering, and the departure of Subhas Chandra Bose from the Indian scene, are symptoms of the diminishing political role of the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia, which however theatrically it may posture before the masses in normal times, exposes in times of growing crisis its political bankruptcy, and exists only to be utilized by the bourgeoisie in its deception of the masses. The Peasantry The peasantry comprises the vast majority of the Indian population (70 per cent). The stagnation and deterioration of agriculture, the increasing land
hunger, the exactions of the government, the extension of parasitic landlordism, the increasing load of rural debt, and the consequent expropriation of the cultivators, are together inevitably driving the peasantry on to the revolutionary road. Peasant unrest, leading frequently to actual risings (Santhal Rebellion of 1855, Deccan Riots of 1875), have been a recurring motif in Indian history. In the last two decades, and especially since the world economic crisis (1929), the peasant movement has been on the rise, and has taken on a more and more radical character. It is precisely the depth and scope of the agrarian crisis that places the revolution against imperialism on the order of the day, contributing to it the driving force and the sweep which are necessary to accomplish the overthrow of the ruling power. Nevertheless the agrarian revolution requires the leadership of another class to raise the struggle to the level of a national revolution. The isolation and the scattered character of the peasant economy, the historical and political backwardness of the rural masses, the lack of inner cohesion within the peasantry, and the conflicting aims of its various strata, all combine to make it impossible for the peasantry to play an independent role in the coming revolution. The invasion of moneyed interests has sharply accelerated the disintegrating tendencies within the peasantry. The creation of a vast army of landless peasants, sharecroppers and wagelaborers on the land has immensely complicated the agrarian problem, and rendered necessary revolutionary measures of the most far-reaching character. The basic antagonism between landlord and peasant has not been reduced by the entry of finance capital into agriculture, since this did not bring with it any change for the better in farming methods or in the system of land tenure. On the contrary, the landlord-peasant antagonism has been given a sharper emphasis by the extension of parasitic claims on the land, and the overthrow of landlordism by the transference of the land to the cultivator remains the primary task of the agrarian revolution. Nevertheless, this basic
antagonism has been supplemented by a new one, which is reflected in the growth of an agricultural proletariat in the strict sense of the word. Besides this, the invasion of finance capital has made the problems of mortgage and of rural debt more pressing in some parts of India than in others, and these facts taken together will probably give to the agrarian revolution, at least in some areas, an anti-capitalist character at a very early stage. Leadership of the Peasantry The leadership of the revolution, which the peasantry cannot provide for itself, can come only from an urban class. But the Indian bourgeoisie cannot possibly provide this leadership, since in the first place it is itself reactionary through and through on the land question, sharing as it does so largely in the parasitic exploitation of the peasantry. Above all, the bourgeoisie, on account of its inherent weakness and its dependence on imperialism, is destined to play a counterrevolutionary role in the coming struggle for power. The leadership of the peasantry in the petty-bourgeois democratic agrarian revolution that is immediately posed can therefore come only from the industrial proletariat, and an alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry is a fundamental prerequisite of the Indian revolution. This alliance cannot be conceived in the form of a “workers’ arid peasants’ party” or of a “democratic dictatorship” in the revolution. The revolutionary alliance between the proletariat and peasantry can mean only proletarian leadership of the peasant struggle and, in case of revolutionary victory, the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship with the support of the peasantry. The Peasant Movement The growth of the peasant movement in recent times has led to the formation of various mass organizations among the peasantry, among which the most important are the Kisan Sanghs (Peasant Committees) which are loosely linked up in a district, provincial, and finally on an all-India scale in the All-India Kisan Sabha, whose membership in 1939 was
800,000. These associations, whose
Year....No. of Factories....No. of workers employed 1914........ 2,936........................ 950,973 1936.........9,329.......................1,652,147 The numerical strength of the industrial proletariat can be estimated at five millions, distributed mainly as follows (1935 figures) (a) Workers in power driven factories (including those of the Native States):1,855,000; (b) Miners: 371,000; (c) Railwaymen:636,000 (d) Transport workers: 3,61,000 (e) Plantation workers:1,00,00,00
BLPI joined Quit India Movement
precise character varies from district to district, are in general today under the control and influence of petty-bourgeois intelligentsia elements who, as pointed out before, cannot follow a class policy independent of the bourgeoisie, although the growing mass pressure upon them is reflected in the more sharply radical demands they are forced to put forward. There is no means of deciding in advance the exact role of the Kisan Sanghs in the coming revolution. This will be determined by the correlation of forces within them, which in turn will depend largely on the consciousness and militancy of the lower layers of the peasantry and the measure of control they exercise in the Kisan Sanghs. But it can be stated beforehand, on the basis of the experience of the Russian and Chinese revolutions, that the existence of Kisan Sanghs on however wide a scale does not offer a substitute for the separate organizations of poor peasants and agricultural laborers in rural Soviets, under the leadership of the urban working class. Only the Soviets can assure that the agrarian revolution will be carried out in a thorough-going manner. The Working Class The industrial proletariat is the product of modern capitalism in India. Its rapid growth in the period since 1914 can be illustrated by a comparison of the Factory Acts Statistics for 1914 and 1936:
The Indian working class is chiefly employed in light industry (cotton, jute, etc.) but also to some extent in the iron, steel, cement, and coal mining industries. The degree of concentration in industrial establishments is relatively high, owing to the recency of industrial development and the typically modern character of many of the new enterprises. The proletariat holds a position in Indian society which cannot be gauged by its actual size; the true gauge is the vital place it occupies in the economy of the country. The wage rates of the Indian proletariat are among the lowest, the living conditions the most miserable, the hours of work the longest, the factory conditions the worst, the death rate the highest in the civilized world. The fight to remedy these intolerable conditions and to protect themselves against the steadily worsening conditions of exploitation bring the workers directly to the revolutionary struggle against imperialism and the capitalist system, the destruction of which is necessary for their emancipation. Working Class Struggles The record of proletarian struggle in India dates back to the last century; but the movement took on an organized character only in the post-war period. The first great wave of strikes (1918-21) signaled the emergence of the Indian working class as a separate force, and gave to the national political movement during this period a truly revolutionary significance for the first time in its
history. In 1920, on the crest of this strike wave, the Indian Trade Union Congress was formed. The second great strike wave of the late twenties, especially in Bombay, showed an immense advance in the working-class movement, marked by its growing awakening to communist ideas. The increasing millions of the workers and the growing influence of the Communists caused the trade union movement to be split in two by those leaders who sought the path of collaboration with the bourgeoisie. Thus the reactionary Trade Union Federation was formed in 1929. This policy of the reactionary labor leaders was facilitated by the disastrous â€œRed Trade Unionâ€? policy followed by the Communist Party of India on orders from the Comintern bureaucracy. With the arrest of the Communist leaders on a trumped-up charge (the Meerut Conspiracy case) and the further splitting of the Trade Union Congress in 1931, the wave of working-class struggle subsided once more. It was in this period (1930-31) that the Communist Party of India, which commanded the confidence of the awakening workers, made the grievous political mistake of standing aside from the mass movement which was again assuming revolutionary proportions. The tendency towards economic recovery commencing in 1936, combined with the mass activities in connection with the election campaign of the Congress led to a revival in the mass movement which entered once again on a period of rise. The Congress Ministries saw a resurgence of the working-class strike movement with the Bengal jute strike (1937) and the Cawnpore textile strike (1938), a resurgence which was arrested only by measures of increased repression introduced by the government since the outbreak of war; but not before the Indian working class had clearly demonstrated its attitude towards the imperialist war, particularly by the mass political anti-war strike in Bombay of 80,000 workers. Left Groups The Communist Party of India, which alone in the last two decades could have
afforded the Marxist leadership that above all things is needed, made instead a series of irresponsible mistakes, which find their expression in bureaucraticallyconceived policies of the Comintern. In conformity with its false central programmatic aim, the “democratic dictatorship” of the proletariat and the peasantry, the CPI fostered the growth of workers’ and peasants’ parties from 1926 to 1928, at the expense of an independent working-class party. This policy was shelved in 1929 to make way for an ultra-left sectarian policy (in the celebrated Third Period days of the Coinintern), the signal expression of which came in the splitting of the trade union movement by the formation of “Red Trade Unions.” This sectarian policy of the CPI led to its isolation from the mass struggle of 1930-31, and made the bourgeois betrayal of the struggle so much the easier. In the period of ebb which followed (1934) the CPI was illegalized and has remained so since. From 1935 onwards, the CPI (again at the behest of the Comintern now openly and flagrantly the tool of the Soviet bureaucracy), reversed its policy once more and held out the hand of collaboration to the bourgeoisie through the policy of the National United Front which credited the bourgeoisie with a revolutionary role. The CPI was transformed into a loyal opposition within the Congress, having no policy independent of that organization, a state of things which continues today. Mechanically echoing every new slogan advanced by the Comintern to suit the changing policies of the Soviet bureaucrats, the CPI has shown its reactionary character by its attitude towards the imperialist war. With its false theory of national united front, the CPI is making ready to repeat its betrayal of the Chinese revolution by handing over the leadership of the revolutionary struggle to the treacherous bourgeoisie. The Communist Party of India, because of the prestige it seeks to obtain from the Russian revolution and the Soviet Union, is today the most dangerous influence within the working class of India. Openly preaching collaboration with the bourgeoisie, and today with the British
imperialists at war, is the party of M.N. Roy. With a narrowing base within the working class, Roy has turned for a following to the labor bureaucrats supporting the war, and to the bourgeoisie itself. The Congress Socialist Party (1934) has from the beginning followed a policy of utter subservience to the Congress bourgeoisie, and remains today completely without a base within the working class. Surrendering its claim to an independent existence, the CSP has been split wide open by the Communists who worked inside it, and is today an empty shell devoid of political substance. To the left of the Communist Party, disgusted with its bureaucratic leaders and its reactionary policies, there exists a number of small parties and groups, occupying more or less centrist positions. Such are the Bengal Labor Party (Bolshevik Party of India), the Red Flag Communist (Communist Party) led by S.N. Tagore, etc. Without a clear-cut revolutionary policy and without making a decisive break organizationally and politically with the Comintern, these parties and groups are unable to offer the working class the independent leadership it requires. Nevertheless these groups and parties contain many tried fighters and able Marxist theoreticians, who would be invaluable in a revolutionary workingclass party. This party can be only the BolshevikLeninist Party of India, the party of the Fourth International in India, which alone with its revolutionary strategy based on the accumulated experience of history and the theory of permanent revolution in particular, can lead the working class of India to revolutionary victory. This party has still to be built on an all-India scale, though many groups exist already whose fusion in the Formation Committee of the BolshevikLeninist Party of India has provided the nucleus for its formation. Despite its subjective weakness in organization and consciousness, inevitable in a backward country and in the conditions of repression which
surround it, the working class is entirely capable of leading the Indian revolution. It is the only class objectively fitted for this role, not only in relation to the Indian situation but in view of the decline of capitalism on a world scale, which opens the road to the international proletarian revolution. The Permanent Revolution India faces a historically belated bourgeois-democratic revolution, the main tasks of which are the overthrow of British imperialism, the liquidation of a semi-feudal land system, and the clearing away of feudal remnants in the form of the Indian Native States. But although bourgeois-democratic revolutions occurring in the advanced capitalist countries in previous centuries found leadership in the then rising bourgeoisie, the Indian bourgeoisie appearing on the scene only after the progressive role of the bourgeoisie in the world as a whole has been exhausted, is incapable of providing leadership to the revolution that is unfolding in India. Connected with and dependent on British capital from the beginning, the Indian bourgeoisie today displays the characteristics of a predominantly compradore bourgeoisie, enjoying at the best the position of a very junior partner in the firm British Imperialism & Co. Hence, while they have been prepared to place themselves through the Indian National Congress at the head of the anti-imperialist mass movement for the purpose of utilizing it as a bargaining weapon to secure concessions from the imperialists, the bourgeois leaders have restricted the scope of the movement and prevented its development into a revolutionary assault on imperialism. Incapable from the very nature of their position of embarking on a revolutionary struggle to secure their independence, and fearful of such a struggle, the bourgeois leaders have maintained their control over the mass movement only to betray it at every critical juncture. Secondly, unlike the once revolutionary bourgeoisie of former times which arose in opposition to the feudal landowning class and in constant struggle against it, the Indian bourgeoisie has developed
largely from the landowning class itself, and is in addition closely connected with the landlords through mortgages. They
are therefore incapable of leading the peasants in the agrarian revolution against landlordism. On the contrary, as is clearly demonstrated by the declared policy and actions of the Congress both during the Civil Disobedience movements and in the period of the Congress Ministries, they are staunch supporters of zamindari interests. Finally, unlike the bourgeois-democratic revolutions of former times, the revolution in India is unfolding at a time when large concentrations of workers already exist in the country. The industrial proletariat numbering five millions occupies a position of strategic importance in the economy of the country which cannot be measured by its mere numerical strength. It is important to remember, moreover, that a hitherto uncalculated but indubitably very high proportion of these workers is employed in large concerns employing sever-al hundreds of thousands of workers. The high degree of concentration of the Indian proletariat immeasurably advances its class consciousness and organizational strength. It was only in the post-war years that the Indian working class emerged as an organized force on a national scale. But the militant and widespread strike waves of 1918-21 and of 1928-29, which were the precursors of the mass Civil Disobedience movements of 1920-21 and of 1930-33 testify to the rapidity of the awakening. These workers are in daily conflict not only with the British owners of capital, but also with the native bourgeoisie. Faced by the threat of the working class, the Indian bourgeoisie has grown more conservative and suspicious. With every advance in organization and
consciousness of the workers, the bourgeoisie has drawn nearer to the imperialists and further away from the masses. It is clear that not a single one of the tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution can be solved under the leadership of the Indian bourgeoisie. Far from leading the bourgeois-democratic revolution, the Indian bourgeoisie will go over to the camp of the imperialists and landlords on the outbreak of the revolution. The urban petty bourgeoisie, daily becoming declassed and pauperized under imperialism and declining in economic significance, cannot even conceive of playing an independent role in the coming revolution. Since, however, there is no prospect whatever of improving their conditions under imperialism, but on the contrary they are faced with actual pauperization and ruin, they are forced onto the revolutionary road. The peasantry, the largest numerically and the most atomized, backward and oppressed class, is capable of local uprisings and partisan warfare, but requires the leadership of a more advanced and centralized class for this struggle to be elevated to an all-national level. Without such leadership the peasantry alone cannot make a revolution. The task of such leadership falls in the nature of things on the Indian proletariat, which is the only class capable of leading the toiling masses in the onslaught against imperialism, landlordism and the native princes. The concentration and discipline induced by its very place in capitalist economy, its numerical strength, the sharpness of the class antagonism which daily brings it into conflict with the imperialists who are the main owners of capital in India, its organization and experience of struggle, and the vital position it occupies in the economy of the country, as also its steadily worsening condition under imperialism, all combine to fit the Indian proletariat for this task. But the leadership of the working class in the bourgeoisdemocratic revolution poses before the working class the prospect of seizing the power and, in addition to accomplishing the long
overdue bourgeois-democratic tasks, proceeding with its own socialist tasks. And thus the bourgeois-democratic revolution develops uninterruptedly into the proletarian revolution and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat as the only state form capable of supplanting the dictatorship of the Indian bourgeoisie in India. The realization of the combined character of the Indian revolution is essential for the planning of the revolutionary strategy of the working class. Should the working class fail in its historic task of seizing the power and establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat, the revolution will inevitably recede, the bourgeois tasks themselves remain unperformed, and the power will swing back in the end to the imperialists without whom the Indian bourgeoisie cannot maintain itself against the hostile masses. A backward country like India can accomplish its bourgeois-democratic revolution only through the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The correctness of this axiom of the theory of permanent revolution is demonstrated by the victorious Russian revolution of October 1917, and it is confirmed on the negative side by the tragic fate of the Chinese revolution of 1925-27. In India, moreover, where the imperialists are the main owners of capital, the revolutionary assault of the workers against imperialism will bring them into direct and open conflict with the property forms of the imperialists from the moment the struggle enters the openly revolutionary stage. The exigencies of the struggle itself will in the course of the openly revolutionary assault against imperialism demonstrate to the workers the necessity of destroying not only imperialism but the foundations of capitalism itself. Thus, though the Indian revolution will be bourgeois in its immediate aims, the tasks of the proletarian revolution will be posed from the outset. But the revolution cannot be stabilized even at this stage. The ultimate fate of the revolution in India, as in Russia, will be determined in the arena of the international revolution. Nor will India by its own forces be able to accomplish
the task of making the transition to socialism. Not only the backwardness of the country, but also the international division of labor and the interdependence â€“ produced by capitalism itself â€“ of the different parts of world economy, demand that this
task of the establishment of socialism can be accomplished only on a world scale. The victorious revolution in India, however, dealing a mortal blow to the oldest and most widespread imperialism in the world will on the one hand produce the most profound crisis in the
entire capitalist world and shake world capitalism to its foundations. On the other hand it will inspire and galvanize into action millions of proletarians and colonial slaves the world over and inaugurate a new era of world revolution.
BLPI actively supported the mutineers, while the Congress and Muslim League opposed (1946)
Resolution on Pakistan: Bolshevik-Leninist Party of India
Partition: BLPI opposed, but the Congress, Muslim League and CPI supported
The Pakistan slogan epitomises the following demand of the reactionary Moslem League: “that geographically contiguous units ... (be)... demarcated into regions which should be so constituted that such readjustments as may be necessary that the areas in which the Moslems are numerically in a majority, as in the North-Western and Eastern zones in India, should be grouped to constitute ‘independent states’ in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.” The slogan is politically reactionary and theoretically false. It is politically reactionary in that it constitutes an effort through an appeal to communal sentiments to divert the rising discontent of the Moslem masses away from its true enemy, namely, British imperialism and its native allies, against the Hindus. It is theoretically false in that it proceeds from the indefensible contention that the Moslems in India constitute a Nation, which is declared to be oppressed (equally false) by a Hindu nation. There is no basis, whether of common historical tradition, language, culture or race, or in respect of geographical and economic factors, for the arising of a distinct Moslem nationality. Religion (together, of course, with any common element of culture which that may entail) is the only unifying factor, and is clearly insufficient, on the basis of all historical experience, to produce any sentiment which can constitute a national consciousness. The slogan of Pakistan is therefore purely demagogic and must be fought not only by laying bare its treacherous purpose but also by exposing the cunning attempt to give to its communalist nature a “nationalist” colouring. It would be incorrect to believe that the growth in strength of the Moslem League is recent years is due to its support of a demand or demands for National self-determination. The
principle reasons for its growth are the following: The opportunity presented to the Moslem League to turn to communal channels the discontent created by the reactionary policies of the Congress Ministries (all non-League) which came into office in the various provinces in 1937. The powerful backing given to it by imperialism during the period when Congress moved into open opposition and ultimately direct struggle, including the jockeying of Moslem League ministries into office in province after province. The utilization by the Moslem League of the fact that a large majority of Indian capitalists and landlords are Hindus, in order to divert the class struggle into communal channels. The coming under its influence of layers of the masses (hitherto outside the influence of any political organization), coming to consciousness for the first time and turning to the Moslem League as the organization nearest to hand. With the turn of Congress once more toward cooperation with imperialism, and the progressively declining need of the Moslem League as an instrument for British imperialism, the Moslem League has passed the pinnacle of its strength, as is evidenced by the numerous splits and quarrels within the League. The Indian nation consists of various nationalities (e.g., Bengalis, Punjabis, Andheras, Tamilians, Caneras, etc.) who are bound together by common language, culture, historical tradition, etc. British imperialism has drawn its administrative boundaries regardless of these distinctions, with the result that the demands for a re-definition of boundaries and the formation of new provinces, paying a due regard to the existence of these different groupings, has gained in strength in some areas. But nowhere have these demands gone beyond an aspiration for provincial autonomy, thus demonstrating the
insignificance of such “separatist tendencies” in relation to the developing national consciousness of the modem Indian nation. The policy of the Bolshevik-Leninist Party of India in relation to these nationalities and their demand is clear. Not only does the Bolshevik-Leninist Party of India stand for a federated India on the basis of these distinct nationalities, but it stands for their right of self-determination. The Bolshevik-Leninist Party of India must, however, expose the misapplication of the principle of National self-determination by the Communist Party of India, which, while denying the existence of a Moslem Nation in words, recognizes it in fact in its proposed redefinition of provincial boundaries. It proposes to draw the boundaries in the Punjab and Bengal in such a manner as to separate West Punjab and East Bengal, where populations are predominantly Moslem, from East Punjab and West Bengal respectively, which are predominantly Hindu. In the absence of any genuine growth of a West Punjab or East Bengal national consciousness, this attempt to divide, on the basis of mere difference of religion, the territory occupied by two distinct nationalities, namely, the Punjabis and the Bengalis, is dearly a concession to the theory of a Moslem Nation. Since neither the Moslem League demand for Pakistan, nor the Communist Party of India variation of it constitute genuine national demands, there can be no question of any support to these demands helping to bring the masses into the struggle against British imperialism. On the contrary, such support would only help to draw the masses away from this struggle by helping the Moslem League to divert the rising discontent of the Moslem masses into communal channels.
Peasant War In China and the Proletariat Leon Trotsky (22nd of September 1932)
Chiang Kai Shek, leader of the Kuomintang, appointed by Stalin the honorary president of Commintern, smashed the second Chinese Revolution in 1925-1927
Dear Comrades: After a long delay, we received your letter of June 15. Needless to say we were overjoyed by the revival and the renascence of the Chinese Left Opposition, despite the most ferocious police persecutions it had endured. Our irreconcilable attitude toward the vulgar democratic Stalinist position on the peasant movement has, of course, nothing in common with a careless or passive attitude toward the peasant movement itself. The manifesto of the International Left Opposition that was issued two years ago and that evaluated the peasant movement in the southern provinces of China declared: “The Chinese revolution, betrayed, defeated, exhausted, shows that it is still alive. Let us hope that the time when it will again lift its proletarian head is not far off.” Further on it says: “The vast flood of peasant revolts can unquestionably provide the impulse for the revival of political struggle in the industrial centres. We firmly count on it.” Your letter testifies that under the influence of the crisis and the Japanese intervention, against the background of the peasant war, the struggle of the city workers is burgeoning once again. In the manifesto we wrote about this possibility with necessary caution: “Nobody can foretell now whether the hearths of the peasant revolt can keep a fire burning through the whole long period of time which the proletarian vanguard will need to gather its own strength, bring the working class into the fight, and co-ordinate its struggle for power with the general offensive of
the peasants against their most immediate enemies.” At the present time it is evident that there are substantial grounds for expressing the hope that, through a correct policy, it will be possible to unite the workers’ movement, and the urban movement in general, with the peasant war; and this would constitute the beginning of the third Chinese revolution. But in the meantime this still remains only a hope, not a certainty. The most important work lies ahead. In this letter I want to pose only one question which seems to me, at least from afar, to be the most important and acute. Once again I must remind you that the information at my disposal is altogether insufficient, accidental, and disjointed. I would indeed welcome any amplification and correction. The peasant movement has created its own armies, has seized great territories, and has installed its own institutions. In the event of further successes—and all of us, of course, passionately desire such successes— the movement will become linked up with the urban and industrial centres and, through that very fact it will come face to face with the working class. What will be the nature of this encounter? Is it certain that its character will be peaceful and friendly? At first glance the question might appear to be superfluous. The peasant movement is headed by Communists or sympathizers. Isn’t it self-evident that in the event of their coming together the workers and the peasants must
unanimously unite under the Communist banner? Unfortunately the question is not at all so simple. Let me refer to the experience of Russia. During the years of the civil war the peasantry in various parts of the country created its own guerrilla detachments, which sometimes grew into full-fledged armies. Some of these detachments considered themselves Bolshevik, and were often led by workers. Others remained non-party and most often were led by former non-commissioned officers from among the peasantry. There was also an “anarchist” army under the command of Makhno. So long as the guerrilla armies operated in the rear of the White Guards, they served the cause of the revolution. Some of them were distinguished by exceptional heroism and fortitude. But within the cities these armies often came into conflict with the workers and with the local party organizations. Conflicts also arose during encounters of the partisans with the regular Red Army, and in some instances they took an extremely painful and sharp character. The grim experience of the civil war demonstrated to us the necessity of disarming peasant detachments immediately after the Red Army occupied provinces which had been cleared of the White Guards. In these cases the best, the most classconscious and disciplined elements were absorbed into the ranks of the Red Army. But a considerable portion of the partisans strived to maintain an independent existence and often came
into direct armed conflict with the Soviet power. Such was the case with the anarchist army of Makhno, entirely kulak in spirit. But that was not the sole instance; many peasant detachments, which fought splendidly enough against the restoration of the landlords, became transformed after victory into instruments of counter-revolution. Regardless of their origin in each isolated instance—whether caused by conscious provocation of the White Guards, or by tactlessness of the Communists, or by an unfavourable combination of circumstances—the conflicts between armed peasants and workers were rooted in one and the same social soil: the difference between the class position and training of the workers and of the peasants. The worker approaches questions from the socialist standpoint; the peasant’s viewpoint is petty bourgeois. The worker strives to socialize the property that is taken away from the exploiters; the peasant seeks to divide it up. The worker desires to put palaces and parks to common use; the peasant, insofar as he cannot divide them, inclines to burning the palaces and cutting down the parks. The worker strives to solve problems on a national scale and in accordance with a plan; the peasant, on the other hand, approaches all problems on a local scale and takes a hostile attitude to centralized planning, etc. It is understood that a peasant also is capable of raising himself to the socialist viewpoint. Under a proletarian rgime more and more masses of peasants become re-educated in the socialist spirit. But this requires time, years, even decades. It should be borne in mind that in the initial stages of revolution, contradictions between proletarian socialism and peasant individualism often take on an extremely acute character. But after all aren’t there Communists at the head of the Chinese Red armies? Doesn’t this by itself exclude the possibility of conflicts between the peasant detachments and the workers’ organizations? No, that does not exclude it. The fact that individual Communists are in the leadership of the present armies does not at all
transform the social character of these armies, even if their Communist leaders bear a definite proletarian stamp. And how do matters stand in China? Among the Communist leaders of Red detachments there indubitably are many declassed intellectuals and semiintellectuals who have not gone through the school of proletarian struggle. For two or three years they live the lives of partisan commanders and commissars; they wage battles, seize territories, etc. They absorb the spirit of their environment. Meanwhile the majority of the rank-and-file Communists in the Red detachments unquestionably consists of peasants, who assume the name Communist in all honesty and sincerity but who in actuality remain revolutionary paupers or revolutionary petty proprietors. In politics he who judges by denominations and labels and not by social facts is lost. All the more so when the politics concerned is carried out arms in hand. The true Communist party is the organization of the proletarian vanguard. But we must not forget that the working class of China has been kept in an oppressed and amorphous condition during the last four years, and only recently has it evinced signs of revival. It is one thing when a Communist party, firmly resting on the flower of the urban proletariat, strives through the workers to lead a peasant war. It is an altogether different thing when a few thousand or even tens of thousands of revolutionists, who are truly Communists or only take the name, assume the leadership of a peasant war without having serious support from the proletariat. This is precisely the situation in China. This acts to augment to an extreme the danger of conflicts between the workers and the armed peasants. In any event, one may rest assured there will be no dearth of bourgeois provocateurs. In Russia, in the period of civil war, the proletariat was already in power in the greater part of the country, the leadership of the struggle was in the hands of a strong and tempered party, the entire commanding apparatus of
the centralized Red Army was in the hands of the workers. Notwithstanding all this, the peasant detachments, incomparably weaker than the Red Army, often came into conflict with it after it victoriously moved into peasant guerrilla sectors. In China the situation is radically different and moreover completely to the disadvantage of the workers. In the most important regions of China the power is in the hands of bourgeois militarists; in other regions, in the hands of leaders of armed peasants. Nowhere is there any proletarian power as yet. The trade unions are weak. The influence of the party among the workers is insignificant. The peasant detachments, flushed with victories they have achieved, stand under the wing of the Comintern. They call themselves “the Red Army,” i.e., they identify themselves with the armed forces of the Soviets. What results consequently is that the revolutionary peasantry of China, in the person of its ruling stratum, seems to have appropriated to itself beforehand the political and moral capital which should by the nature of things belong to the Chinese workers. Isn’t it possible that things may turn out so that all this capital will be directed at a certain moment against the workers? Naturally the peasant poor, and in China they constitute the overwhelming majority, to the extent they think politically, and these comprise a small minority, sincerely and passionately desire alliance and friendship with the workers. But the peasantry, even when armed, is incapable of conducting an independent policy. Occupying in daily life an intermediate, indeterminate, and vacillating position, the peasantry at decisive moments can follow either the proletariat or the bourgeoisie. The peasantry does not find the road to the proletariat easily but only after a series of mistakes and defeats. The bridge between the peasantry and the bourgeoisie is provided by the urban petty bourgeoisie, chiefly by the intellectuals, who commonly come forward under the banner of socialism and even communism.
The commanding stratum of the Chinese “Red Army” has no doubt succeeded in inculcating itself with the habit of issuing commands. The absence of a strong revolutionary party and of mass organizations of the proletariat renders control over the commanding stratum virtually impossible. The commanders and commissars appear in the guise of absolute masters of the situation and upon occupying cities will be rather apt to look down from above upon the workers. The demands of the workers might often appear to them either inopportune or ill-advised. Nor should one forget such “trifles” as the fact that within cities the staffs and offices of the victorious armies are established not in the proletarian huts but in the finest city buildings, in the houses and apartments of the bourgeoisie; and all this facilitates the inclination of the upper stratum of the peasant armies to feel itself part of the “cultured” and “educated” classes, in no way part of the proletariat.
the advanced workers and through the workers we shall arouse the peasants.” Such in general is the only conceivable road for the proletarian party. The Chinese Stalinists have acted otherwise. During the revolution of 1925-27 they subordinated directly and immediately the interests of the workers and the peasants to the interests of the national bourgeoisie. In the years of the counter-revolution they passed over from the proletariat to the peasantry, i.e., they undertook that role which was fulfilled in our country by the SRs when they were still a revolutionary party. Had the Chinese Communist Party concentrated its efforts for the last few years in the cities, in industry, on the railroads; had it sustained the trade unions, the educational clubs and circles; had it, without breaking off from the workers, taught them to understand what was occurring in the villages—the share of the proletariat in the general correlation of forces would have been incomparably more favourable today.
Thus in China the causes and grounds for conflicts between the army, which is peasant in composition and petty bourgeois in leadership, and the workers not only are not eliminated but on the contrary, all the circumstances are such as to greatly increase the possibility and even the inevitability of such conflicts; and in addition the chances of the proletariat are far less favourable to begin with than was the case in Russia. From the theoretical and political side the danger is increased many times because the Stalinist bureaucracy covers up the contradictory situation by its slogan of “democratic dictatorship” of workers and peasants. Is it possible to conceive of a snare more attractive in appearance and more perfidious in essence? The epigones do their thinking not by means of social concepts, but by means of stereotyped phrases; formalism is the basic trait of bureaucracy. The Russian Narodniks used to accuse the Russian Marxists of “ignoring” the peasantry, of not carrying on work in the villages, etc. To this the Marxists replied: “We will arouse and organize
The party actually tore itself away from its class. Thereby in the last analysis it can cause injury to the peasantry as well. For should the proletariat continue to remain on the sidelines, without organization, without leadership, then the peasant war even if fully victorious will inevitably arrive in a blind alley. In old China every victorious peasant revolution was concluded by the creation of a new dynasty, and subsequently also by a new group of large proprietors; the movement was caught in a vicious circle. Under present conditions the peasant war by itself, without the direct leadership of the proletarian vanguard, can only pass on the power to a new bourgeois clique, some “left” Kuomintang or other, a “third party,” etc., etc., which in practice will differ very little from the Kuomintang of Chiang Kai-shek. And this would signify in turn a new massacre of the workers with the weapons of “democratic dictatorship.” What then are the conclusions that follow from all this? The first conclusion is that one must boldly and openly face the facts as they are. The peasant
movement is a mighty revolutionary factor insofar as it is directed against the large landowners, militarists, feudalists, and usurers. But in the peasant movement itself are very powerful proprietary and reactionary tendencies, and at a certain stage it can become hostile to the workers and sustain that hostility already equipped with arms. He who forgets about the dual nature of the peasantry is not a Marxist. The advanced workers must be taught to distinguish from among “communist” labels and banners the actual social processes. The activities of the “Red armies” must be attentively followed, and the workers must be given a detailed explanation of the course, significance, and perspectives of the peasant war; and the immediate demands and the tasks of the proletariat must be tied up with the slogans for the liberation of the peasantry. On the bases of our own observations, reports, and other documents we must painstakingly study the life processes of the peasant armies and the rgime established in the regions occupied by them; we must discover in living facts the contradictory class tendencies and clearly point out to the workers the tendencies we support and those we oppose. We must follow the interrelations between the Red armies and the local workers with special care, without overlooking even the minor misunderstandings between them. Within the framework of isolated cities and regions, conflicts, even if acute, might appear to be insignificant local episodes. But with the development of events, class conflicts may take on a national scope and lead the revolution to a catastrophe, i.e., to a new massacre of the workers by the peasants, hoodwinked by the bourgeoisie. The history of revolutions is full of such examples. The more clearly the advanced workers understand the living dialectic of the class interrelations of the proletariat, the peasantry, and the bourgeoisie, the more confidently will they seek unity with the peasant strata closest to them, and the more successfully will they
counteract the counter-revolutionary provocateurs within the peasant armies themselves as well as within the cities. The trade-union and the party units must be built up; the advanced workers must be educated, the proletarian vanguard must be brought together and drawn into the battle. We must turn to all the members of the official Communist Party with words of explanation and challenge. It is quite probable that the rank-and-file Communists who have been led astray by the Stalinist faction will not understand us at once. The bureaucrats will set up a howl about our “underestimation” of the peasantry, perhaps even about our “hostility” to the peasantry. (Chernov always accused Lenin of being hostile to the peasantry.) Naturally such howling will not confuse the Bolshevik-Leninists. When prior to April 1927 we warned against the inevitable coup d’tat of Chiang Kai-shek, the Stalinists accused us of hostility to the Chinese national revolution. Events have demonstrated who was right. Events will provide a confirmation this time as well. The Left Opposition may turn out to be too weak to direct events in the interests of the proletariat at the present stage. But we are sufficiently strong right now to point out to the workers the correct road and, in the development of the class struggle, to demonstrate to the workers our correctness and political insight. Only in this way can a revolutionary party gain the confidence of the workers, only in this way will it grow, become strong, and take its place at the head of the popular masses. Postscript, September 26, 1932 In order to express my ideas as clearly as possible, let me sketch the following variant which is theoretically quite possible. Let us assume that the Chinese Left Opposition carries on in the near future widespread and successful work among the industrial proletariat and attains the preponderant influence over it. The official party, in the meantime, continues to concentrate all its forces on the “Red armies” and in the peasant regions. The moment arrives when the
peasant troops occupy the industrial centres and are brought face to face with the workers. In such a situation, in what manner will the Chinese Stalinists act? It is not difficult to foresee that they will counterpose the peasant army to the “counter-revolutionary Trotskyists” in a hostile manner. In other words, they will incite the armed peasants against the advanced workers. This is what the Russian SRs and the Mensheviks did in 1917; having lost the workers, they fought might and main for support among the soldiers, inciting the barracks against the factory, the armed peasant against the worker Bolshevik. Kerensky, Tsereteli, and Dan, if they did not label the Bolsheviks outright as counter-revolutionists, called them either “unconscious aides” or “involuntary agents” of counterrevolution. The Stalinists are less choice in their application of political terminology. But the tendency is the same: malicious incitement of the peasant, and generally petty-bourgeois, elements against the vanguard of the working class. Bureaucratic centrism, as centrism, cannot have an independent class support. But in its struggle against the Bolshevik-Leninists it is compelled to seek support from the right, i.e., from the peasantry and the petty bourgeoisie, counterposing them to the proletariat. The struggle between the two Communist factions, the Stalinists and the Bolshevik-Leninists, thus bears in itself an inner tendency toward transformation into a class struggle. The revolutionary development of events in China may draw this tendency to its conclusion, i.e., to a civil war between the peasant army led by the Stalinists and the proletarian vanguard led by the Leninists. Were such a tragic conflict to arise, due entirely to the Chinese Stalinists, it would signify that the Left Opposition and the Stalinists ceased to be Communist factions and had become hostile political parties, each having a different class base. However is such a perspective inevitable? No, I don’t think so at all. Within the Stalinist faction (the official
Chinese Communist Party) there are not only peasant, i.e., petty-bourgeois tendencies but also proletarian tendencies. It is extremely important for the Left Opposition to seek to establish connections with the proletarian wing of the Stalinists by presenting to them the Marxist evaluation of “Red armies” and the interrelations between the proletariat and the peasantry in general. While maintaining its political independence, the proletarian vanguard must be ready always to assure united action with revolutionary democracy. While we refuse to identify the armed peasant detachment with the Red army as the armed power of the proletariat and have no inclination to shut our eyes to the fact that the Communist banner hides the pettybourgeois content of the peasant movement, we, on the other hand, take an absolutely clear view of the tremendous revolutionary-democratic significance of the peasant war. We teach the workers to appreciate its significance and we are ready to do all in our power in order to achieve the necessary military alliance with the peasant organizations. Consequently our task consists not only in preventing the political-military command over the proletariat by the petty-bourgeois democracy that leans upon the armed peasant, but in preparing and ensuring the proletarian leadership of the peasant movement, its “Red armies” in particular. The more clearly the Chinese BolshevikLeninists comprehend the political events and the tasks that spring from them, the more successfully will they extend their base within the proletariat. The more persistently they carry out the policy of the united front in relation to the official party and the peasant movement led by it, the more surely will they succeed not only in shielding the revolution from a terribly dangerous conflict between the proletariat and the peasantry and in ensuring the necessary united action between the two revolutionary classes, but also in transforming their united front into the historical step toward the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Testament Leon Trotsky
3 lakhs joined Trotskyâ€™s funeral in Mexico City
My high (and still rising) blood pressure is deceiving those near me about my actual condition. I am active and able to work but the outcome is evidently near. These lines will be made public after my death. I have no need to refute here once again the stupid and vile slander of Stalin and his agents: there is not a single spot on my revolutionary honour. I have never entered, either directly or indirectly, into any behind-the-scenes agreements or even negotiations with the enemies of the working class. Thousands of Stalin's opponents have fallen victims of similar false accusations. The new revolutionary generations will rehabilitate their political honour and deal with the Kremlin executioners according to their deserts. I thank warmly the friends who remained loyal to me through the most difficult hours of my life. I do not name anyone in particular because I cannot name them all. However, I consider myself justified in making an exception in the case of my companion, Natalia Ivanovna Sedova. In addition to the happiness of being a fighter for the cause of socialism, fate gave me the happiness of being her husband. During the almost forty years of our life together she remained an inexhaustible source of love, magnanimity, and tenderness. She underwent great sufferings, especially in the last period of our lives. But I find some comfort in the fact that she also knew days of happiness. For forty-three years of my conscious life I have remained a revolutionist; for forty-two of them I have fought under the banner of Marxism. If I had to begin all over again I would of course try to avoid this or that mistake, but the main course of my life would remain unchanged. I shall die a proletarian revolutionist, a Marxist, a dialectical materialist, and, consequently, an irreconcilable atheist. My faith in the communist future of mankind is not less ardent, indeed it is firmer today, than it was in the days of my youth. Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full. Leon Trotsky Coyoacan 27th of February 1940 22
Published on Sep 9, 2010
The newsletter was the first newsletter published by the New Wave group which mostly included articles by Trotsky on india and of the BLPI i...