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Friday, July 21, 2017

Celebrating 50 years since Naxalbari: Concluding Part and Summary Part 10

Written by Harsh Thakor; This article contains a lot of documented information but also reflects the personal views of Thakor.

May the inextinguishable light of Naxalbari resurrect it’s earlier glory  to illuminate the whole nation and extinguishing the dark forces of fascism.
We cannot live on the glories of the past like the Naxalabri struggle or on the achievements of past decades in Andhra  Pradesh, Telenagana, Bihar ,Jharkhand etc.
No doubt what started as a stream turned into an Ocean with the movement spreading like wildfire even if there was great fragmentation and several setbacks.
Today because of the great sacrifices of comrades striving for correct path a superstructure has been built  but this base has to be consolidated and protected.
Today the enemy is even stronger blowing a much stronger gale against the revolutionary movement than 5 or even 2-3 decades ago.
They are armed to the teeth to defeat organized struggles, much more equipped than the Maoist forces.
In this concluding part 10 I am summarizing the positive aspects and weaknesses in the Indian Maoist Movement and the tasks for the future.
The theme is in spite of great strides we have too understand how India has to practice a path of protracted peoples war taking into account it’s own specific characteristic and not adhere blindly to the Chinese model.
I feel the Indian PPW will have significant differences from the Chinese path even if there are also very strong similarities.
Today we must salute the C.P.I.(Maoist) for shimmering it’s flame in Dandkaranya to create a new model of people’s power and sow the sees in other regions but still not have illusions that it is on the verge of victory .


The most significant progress has been made in Dandkaranya, Jharkand, Orissa where the torch of the C.P.I.(Maoist) is blazing.
It’s red flame is shimmering like in those parts like never before with alternative people’s structures been built in Dandkaranya.
The wave has even spread in regions of Kerala and the Maharashtra Border revealing a fire that is in extinguishable.
Although not waging armed struggle a mass movement in Punjab of the peasantry under the leadership of various communist revolutionary groups  has been built as never before.
Earlier although there was a great student and youth movement in Punjab there never existed such a strong united peasant movement of both the landed or landless peasantry.
The unity amongst many trends of landed peasantry organization and their support to the dalit landless labor movement in Jaloor in  Punjab is of great significance.
There is also unity there amongst mass political organizations like Lok Sangram Manch. Inquilabi Lok Morcha, Inquilabi Kendra, Lok Morcha etc. The joint election campaign of 3 different groups in January this year was of great relevance. In the same light 3 groups commemorating 50 years of Naxalbari in Ludhiana in May was very positive.
In West Bengal the movement is very splintered but the unity in joint protests and the recent unity of 5 groups jointly commemorating 50 years of Naxalbari in Silguri was heartening.
Also spirited cadre in regions of Uttar Pradesh combating the menace of castesim and Saffron fascism in Benares University.
The most positive aspect of today is the unity that has emerged amongst different trends within the revolutionary camp and the determination of cadres from so many trends to Unitedly  fight the ongoing fascist assault of the state represented by the ruling B.J.P.
Some of the most outstanding united protests have taken place in cities like Delhi, Kolkata and towns of Punab like Moga and Barnala.
I was most impressed with over 12 groups uniting in College square of Kolkata organizing a march in November and later a sitting protest in December against the massacre of Maoist activists in Malkangiri and earlier against Operation Greenhunt.
Be it from Kanu Sanyal, 2nd C,C. New Democracy, Maoist or Red Star  they assembled creating the presence of a torrent.
Protestors displayed heroic fighting spirit in defying the police barricade.
Similarly in Delhi similar effect was created with even mass organization sof C.P.I..(M.L.) Liberation and Peoples Union for Democratic Rights participating.
In Barnala and Moga districts of Punjab some of the most qualitative protests and conventions have been held in recent times burning the flame of resistance against Operation Greenhunt, massacre of Maoists in Malakangiri, and life sentence on Maruti Suzuki workers.
The Democratic Front against Operation Greenhunt has built an organized movement like no other in combating state fascism even if it’s numbers are not so great.
It has sown the seeds for building democratic consciousness ,which is of great significance. Such a force is backbone of the revolutionary movement in protecting itself.
Similarly the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights has been revived and held some great seminars on state repression in Kashmir etc. A strong democratic rights Organization is the need of the hour and an essential prerequisite in the protracted peoples war.
The protest launched in Mumbai after the suicide of Rohit Velmula was one of the strongest ever seen in India in February 2016 and the later students upheavals in Delhi University protesting against the arrest of student leader  Kanhaiya  and Umar Khalid displayed great fury and determination.
On very few occasions in the past has such intensity been displaced against castes' oppression nation wide .
In Punjab the fiercest determination was expressed by Students for Democratic Society protesting police attack on movement against fee
I was also greatly impressed by the qualitative response by the common public to protests in Kerala against the assassination of comrades Devraj and Ajitha by the C.P.M. govt. There was spontaneous support and sympathy to that cause by common people.
Today trends that evolved from Chandra Pulla Reddy like New Democracy group or from T .Nagi Reddy –D.V. Rao like  C.P.R.C.I.(M.L.)  never openly criticize the Maoist armed actions.

2 decades ago the N.D. group in public condemned the armed squad action of Peoples War group and similarly sections of U.C.C.R.I.(M.L.) Morally today the C.P.R.C.I.(M.L.) displays significantly more admiration for the Maoist party than it’s erstwhile constituent which was C.C.R.I. show towards the Peoples War group.
The general polarization of Unity has reduced confusion amongst cadres with the unity of the C.P.I.(Maoist) a major landmark.
Other mergers like C.P.I.(M.L.) Kanu Sanyal with Janshaktti into C.P.I.(M.L.) also reflected this phenomena.
Splits in past decades caused immense confusion.
Today the movement is striving to integrate the caste question with Maoism and the revolutionary movement which was earlier ignored. A really sustained effort was  made by the Maoist party leader and ranks to facilitate this like Anuradha Ghandy.
The Maoist movement cannot progress by neglecting caste question and not integrating it with class struggle. Here Anand Teltumbde also made a significant contribution.
In Tata Institute of Social sciences a bi-monthly magazine is brought out highlighting revolutionary democracy and state repression on campuses in relation to Dalit and Ambedkarite movement.
The Internet has given access to a lot more information about the movement and it’s ideology.It played a major role in popularizing the Maoist movement and inspiring cadre. I would never have known so much without the internet on practice and polemics.
The crisis of globalization has openly given a clear insight to the peasants and workers about the fascist nature of socio-economic system which has removed it’s blinkers.
I am re-posting excerpts on an outstanding summary or analysis of  the C.P.I.(Maoist) s from

  ‘Is the Torch Passing?’ by Robert Weil.

It does justice to the Movement more than any writer with a most symmetrical and objective evaluation in context with the concrete situation of India.
It refutes anyone who calls the Maoists as a terrorist force or isolated from the people or those who claim that the Maoist war is on the verge of a famous victory.
The rise of the CPI (Maoist) to its leading revolutionary position today is the outcome of specific conditions over the past several years, and its ability to take advantage of the openings provided by these new developments.
In part this is due to its flexibility. With well trained cadre, a battle-hardened guerrilla army, and a mobility that has, in large part, been forced upon it by constant suppression campaigns, the party has developed the kind of “have guns, will travel” capability that allows it to quickly seize opportunities that the system of oppression opens up before it.
This was seen in 2005, when Maoists were once again largely driven from their bases in Andhra Pradesh, with heavy losses, yet not only quickly regrouped, but reached a new peak of national mobilization. This ability to convert setbacks into gains, to seize openings that constantly arise for expansion, is not simply the result of flexible and mobile organization, however.
Over the last three decades, the Maoists have “seeded” the vast forest regions and other parts of the interior hinterland with dedicated cadre, who have helped to stimulate and lead resistance struggles by those who have suffered from centuries-long oppression and exploitation.
These communities rise up over and over again when conditions become unbearable. This deep and dialectical tie between the Maoist revolutionaries and popular forces is the primary reason why the struggle continues to flare repeatedly, and to spread across the country, often at the very point when the movement has suffered setbacks.
The CPI (Maoist) is of course anathema to most of the ruling parties and wealthy classes, but criticisms of its methods and doubts about its prospects are widely shared among the intelligentsia and in leftist circles.
Even these critics commonly express admiration for the dedication and courage of its cadre and fighters, and it is not unusual to hear them say, “if I were younger, or more willing to take risks, or less tied down to family or career, I might join them.” 

Many of those who criticize the revolutionary Maoists are themselves also lifelong activists who courageously struggled for radical social change, often at great personal sacrifice, including long years of hardship and imprisonment. Not a few of them go back in their activism to Naxalbari itself. So attention must be paid to their critiques.
The list varies, but among the most common themes are that the CPI (Maoist) wants to put in place a one-party state, a classic “dictatorship of the proletariat,” and that in the areas under its control, it excludes and even suppresses all other parties. Many object to what they see as a violation of the multiparty system, and fear that a Maoist victory would mean the end to all forms of civil liberties and political freedom.
Some also hold the view that India is not, as Maoists claim, a semi-feudal, semi-colonial nation, but rather a modern capitalist economy that, while highly exploitative, is that of a fully independent state, with a parliamentary democracy in which even most of the poor still believe.
Others note that the Indian working class is undergoing rapid changes, in which casual and unorganized forms of labor are already dominant, undermining the basis for a “classical” proletarian-led revolution.
A closely related critique is that the Maoist forces are isolated in the forests and unable to expand beyond their primarily tribal base. In this view, the main agricultural population in the plains, and especially urban workers, remain largely beyond their reach and ability to organize.
Others hold that the CPI (Maoist) is not so much a national force, as a collection of semi-autonomous regional units, and that its liberated zones are relatively unstable, and unable to carry out development projects or provide civil services, while at the same time obstructing those of the state.
That leads, from this viewpoint, to excessive reliance on military force and violence, and to overly adventuristic actions. Some even note that the Indian party lacks a single dominant and charismatic revolutionary leader, such as Mao Zedong, around whom to rally.
Overall, for many such critics, the state and military in India are simply too powerful to confront, much less overcome, with the guerrilla strategy that the Maoists have been forced to adopt. For both substantive reasons, therefore, and the tendency to want “to go with the winner,” many progressives and leftists hold back from, or even oppose, the CPI (Maoist).
Of all the critiques leveled at the party and its actions, however, the most damning and ubiquitous is the “sandwich” theory. Over and over again, critics of the CPI (Maoist) claim that it lacks broad popular support, and instead, through its violent attacks, places the poor and oppressed in the “middle” between its revolutionary guerrillas and the state.
This theory takes various forms. To some, adivasis are seen as a passive population, who are caught and crushed between two larger forces beyond their control. For others, tribal uprisings, such as in Lalgarh, are an expression of the “purity of the people,” a kind of “noble savage” role, while the “unprincipled and opportunistic”
Maoists are viewed as having stripped them of the ability to serve as their own subjective political actors.70 Still others assert that the goals of the adivasis are limited to only practical demands for improvement of their situation, and that they are not interested in seizing state power.
In the most extreme version, these critics assert that the mass demonstrations in the CPI (Maoist) areas are based on coercion by the party, that it indiscriminately kills any who oppose it, and that its attacks serve only to bring down repression by the state. In any case, the claim is made that the majority of the population are the main sufferers, while “It is the duty of middle India, according to the ‘sandwich theory’, to ‘rescue’ the hapless Adivasis and rural poor from the armed combatants.”71 Clinging to such “apparent neutrality” and similar reasoning, many of those who supported struggles in Singur and Nandigram are much more hesitant to rally for Lalgarh, with its closer ties to Maoists.72
But there is an alternative view of this relation. Until now, according to such a standpoint, the adivasis and other oppressed communities have for long been crushed under the heavy power of the state, and the brutal exploitation and abuse of upper castes and classes, as in a “sandwich” with only one piece of bread on the top. Viewed in this way, Maoists have finally provided the “bottom slice,” the ability to resist and fight back
In the yesteryears there were no Maoists. No political intervention from outside. And yet autonomous revolts got defeated in no time though all these movements created social mobility and consciousness for the next phase of rebellion. The violent past helped them raise their sights.
This time tribals revolted against the attacks on their livelihoods, and objective condition was such that Maoist intervention was logical to sustain resistance against the mighty state and fill up the subjective vacuum.
Had not the Maoists intervened, the struggle for survival could have been crushed much earlier. The Maoist presence is delaying the victory of armed forces over a community that has nothing to lose other than shame and drudgery. In many cases tribals themselves invited the naxalites….73
Earlier adivasi revolts were beaten down, in other words, regardless of any “sandwich.”
Now those who rebel against oppression at least have a base to rest on and to help defend them, an improvement even if they are in the “middle.” Calls on the Maoists to “leave the people alone,” in their “natural” condition, just serve to weaken them once again in the face of their oppressors, and to abandon them virtually disarmed against those in power.
There is a special irony here. When Mazumdar called for the peasants to “annihilate” the landlords and moneylenders who oppressed them—a much disputed policy even within the Naxalite movement—he at first insisted that they use only their own conventional weapons, “choppers, spears, javelins and sickles,” not guns, which would lessen the self-initiation and immediacy of their revolt, and make them reliant on others for arms.74
Now, in a strange echo of the Naxalbari leader, some who oppose the CPI (Maoist) suggest that reliance on its guerrilla army for support ruins the “purity” of the adivasis, who should confront a powerful modern state alone with their bows, arrows and knives. Yet whether it is a Maoist policy in 1970 or an anti-Maoist one in 2010, this kind of “primitivism” approach is inadequate.
The oppressed and impoverished of India, like those everywhere, have the right to fight “by any means necessary,” to arm themselves with the most effective weapons available, and to choose those allies who offer them the greatest support and the best ability to resist the enemy, as they and they alone determine.
Incidents, in any event, do not, and indeed could not, represent the strategic policy of the CPI (Maoist), and should not be twisted into absurd accusations. The claim, for example, that 20,000 adivasis, armed with their own traditional weapons, who for months have driven out the security forces of a powerful modern state, can be forced against their will to attend a rally or protest by a relative handful of Maoist guerrillas, defies logic as well as the historic record of such movements, which always depend on wide popular support. “The Maoists cannot influence the events in tribal belts simply by showing gunpowder.
It’s a life-and-death question of thousands of tribal families that keeps the Maoist campaign going despite periodic setbacks.”109 Similarly with the Maoists imposing a boycott of legislative elections.
 A statement by adivasi women in Dandakaranya (DK) belies this.
KAMS [Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Sangathan/Revolutionary Adivasi Women’s Organization] gives full support to the DK revolutionary movement which is carried on with the following aims – ‘Land to the tiller’, ‘Forest to the adivasis’, ‘State Power to the oppressed people’, ‘Women’s Liberation’.
We work shoulder to shoulder with our fraternal mass organizations in the armed struggle and political propaganda against the exploitative government and its army. We participate in the election boycott actively with the aim of establishing people’s power as an alternative to the parliamentary politics in which we have lost confidence. The ruling classes who could not tolerate this are perpetuating brutal violence on the adivasi women.110
Any woman activist who can make such a statement is not a passive pawn in the hands of anyone. Even if, as is likely, KAMS is a Maoist front, with 30 years work and 100,000 members, it is representative of the prominent role taken by adivasi women and the clear nature of their demands.111
This activism penetrates into every area of life, a critical new aspect of democracy. “Women now hold meetings independently,” and challenge all the old centers of power, such as tribal elder authority, or their abusive and humiliating treatment by non-adivasis.
With the understanding gained in this process the women now know that men must become part of housework and child rearing. They know that woman too go out for organizational work like the man. If only one can leave the house, they know that it is necessary to discuss democratically and decide who has to go. Earlier the women were not allowed into the places where the harvest was stored. Now this tradition is not seen.
The fight for wearing blouses was a turning point in women’s lives. In the areas where the Revolutionary People’s Committees were formed, the men have been democratized and they now understand that they have to discuss with their wives before doing anything that involve both. Readers are aware that land pattas [ownership documents] are issued by the RPCs [Revolutionary People’s Committees] in the name of both men and women in the newly occupied lands.112
Many “are becoming professional revolutionaries,” ready to go wherever needed, and “even question the discrimination they face in guerilla life in order to gain their rights”—an indication that despite advances, women still confront limitations on their role in the revolutionary movement and issues with their treatment by men in the party and army hierarchy.
Still, in virtually every such area, the CPI (Maoist) is turning its contradictions and weaknesses into new strengths.113 Even the absence of a single “great leader” within the party has a democratizing effect, working against the rise of cultish excesses, and emphasizing the guiding role of the people themselves, who do not need dependence on charismatic national personages in order to carry on their struggles.
United front work with other parties, NGOs, intellectuals and students plays a similar role.As the “large” democracy of India proves itself ever more ineffective and corrupt, and is shown to be an instrument in the exploitation of the people, it is the very resistance of the Maoists to “playing by the rules” that increases their attractiveness to the marginalized, and drives growing numbers of the disaffected in their direction.
This “erosion of democratic spaces” must be hailed as an achievement of the Maoist intervention, to the extent that it undermines democracy as an instrument of rule for the state and the ruling order…
So now, the message from Dantewada is that the democratic game is over—instead of lamenting over the loss of democracy, the erosion of democratic spaces, it is precisely this end of the democratic game that is the most laudable achievement of the Maoist movement.
It is the poor saying that “democracy” only seeks/extracts our mandate for your well-entrenched power. We do not want to be exploited and given a democratic voice, we refuse to be drawn into mandating our own exploitation…. It is the poor saying that it is not just the undemocratic nature of capitalism we have problems with, but with capitalism as such, with, in fact, democratic capitalism.114
What is at stake here is not just the nature of the state, but the character of the capitalist system that it upholds. The two are no longer separable, either in practice or in the minds of millions of the exploited. A revolutionary New Democracy confronts both, demanding an end not only to exploitation, but to the bourgeois political system that is enforcing it.
The C.P.I.(Maoist) and it’s guerilla army exhibit outstanding dedication and courage and as the conditions of hundreds of millions worsen and alienation from the current system of large democracy grows, they are showing the forces of popular struggle an alternate path to revolutionary transformation and democratic unity. To succeed it must in effect help lead the forging of a new nation founded on a set of alternative principles, bringing about greater unity by strengthening the democratic rights and participatory power of its disparate elements.
 It is extraordinarily hard against a powerful state using unrestrained force and unrestrained brutality to prevent it. The revolution it has undertaken holds out the promise of breaking the cycle of wasteful and destructive violence by transforming the underling inequalities and social injustices of caste,  class, gender, ethnicity and religion.
For the C.P.I.(Maoist) the hardest task may be finding a path to broaden its appeal to others, and to show sufficient strategic and tactical flexibility to fit the Indian situation, today. It challenges Gandhian methods as well as other leftist methods, which have alternate visions of a non-violent path but have been unable to show in practice how the exploitative economic system and the statist militarism that upholds it can be restrained or undermined to allow emergence of their utopian new worlds.
The Maoist party is turning strengths into weaknesses in spite of the absence of single great leader within the party .
Some critiques claim that it lacks broad popular support and instead through it's violent activities sandwiches the poor between the guerrillas and the state. They see Adivasis as a passive population. However others challenge this stating that the Adivasis and other oppressed classes have for long been crushed under the power of the state and the brutal exploitation of the upper castes. Only the Maoists have displayed the ability to fight back.
In yesteryears there were no Maoists and no political intervention from outside. Autonomous revolts got defeated in no time though all these movements created social mobility and consciousness for the next phase of rebellion.
This time tribals revolted against attacks on their livelihood and it was only Maoist intervention which enabled their struggle to survive. The Maoist presence delayed victory of the armed forces over a community that had nothing to lose other than shame and drudgery. Had it not been for intervention by the Maoists the resistance would have been crushed much earlier.

Amit Bhattacharya on movement in Lalgarh

The ongoing struggle in Lalgarh, nay, Jangal Mahal has already completed one year in early November 2009.
This struggle is totally different from any other recent movement in our country. If Singur faced the initial experience of defeat, Nandigram could take pride in having tasted victory in course of a long bloody battle against the anti-people ‘left-front’ government and terror perpetrated by the hermads backed by the ruling CPI(M).
The struggles waged in both Singur and Nandigram were directed against the land-grab movement resorted to by domestic big comprador capital and foreign imperialist capital. In both Singur and Nandigram, the parliamentary parties played some role, although in the case of the latter, the Maoist party that rejects the parliamentary path did play some role. In the case of the Lalgarh movement, on the other hand, parliamentary parties were actually rejected by the people and the Maoist party played a major role.
In one sense, the Lalgarh movement began in a different context. It started as a response against the brutality perpetrated by the police on November  5, 2008. It was, at the same time, a fight against age-old deprivation and humiliation and for the assertion of dignity and the rights of the people. However, if one takes into account the land mine attack on the WB chief minister on 2 November 2008–the day the corporate house of the Jindals inaugurated the Shalboni steel plant (it was a SEZ), then that event possibly acted a catalyst that started a snow-balling process. In that sense, it started as a response to the land-grab movement also, like those in both Singur and Nandigram.
The Lalgarh movement can be divided into Five phases: A) From 5 November 2008 to the day the dates for parliamentary elections were announced. B) From that day to 16 May when results were declared throughout the country. From 17 May 2009 to 17 June just one day before ‘Operation Lalgarh’ was started. D) From 18 June 2009 when the joint forces started moving into Lalgarh to 26 October when decisions were taken by the PCAPA to form the people’s militia. E) From the formation of the ‘Sidhu-Kanu Gana Militia’ on 27 October till date. The day coincided with halting the Rajdhani Express by the members of the PCAPA demanding the release of Chhatradhar Mahato, release of political prisoners and the withdrawal of joint forces.
Each of these phases has its distinctive features. If one studies the movement, one will be able to see that it was not just a movement against land grab or just for the assertion of the rights of the adivasis or against age-old humiliation suffered by the tribal people; it was more than that. And that broader aspect gradually unfolded itself as movement rolled on.
One of those major aspects of the movement is their advocacy of a pro-people new model of development—a model that definitely shows the imprint of the Maoist party. This aspect of the movement hardly received any attention from the urban intellectuals. Let us take up that neglected, but very important aspect first.

For the rest click here.

OVERESTIMATING FORCES OF HINDU FASCISM, POSITION'S ON CASTE, WEAK DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS MOVEMENT- just to name some of the topics covered by this article in its full posting.
Such a large and analytical article is too long for this blog. However it is posted in full on Democracy and Class Struggle. These topics are informative and interesting. Be sure and check these other parts of this article out. 

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