The Indian Situation


[ This is one of our basic statements on the developments of class struggle in India and aims at a characterization of the overall situation in India and the sub-continent. The article has also come up in the international courrier of the International Workers League (http://litci.org/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1732:the-indian-situation&catid=31:india) as part of our cooperation with them. ]

India today is in an acute pre-revolutionary phase. Major struggles have recently erupted. There is an intensifying guerrilla insurrection in Eastern and Central India and in September there was a massive nationwide general strike of unionized workers in which up to 100 million workers took part — both organized and non-organized. A mass civil disobedience movement demanding independence has broken out in Kashmir, threatening more than ever before the stranglehold of Indian sub-imperialism on the Himalayan state. All this seen in the context of a global financial crisis and worldwide political turmoil very clearly shows us how mature the objective conditions for a world revolution now are. This objective maturity is counterbalanced more sharply than ever to the acute lack of revolutionary leadership. Nowhere is this dialectic felt more keenly than in the Indian subcontinent.

Overview of classes and parties in India

The emerging struggles have put into relief more sharply the class relations in subcontinental politics and revealed the class basis of the various political forces operating there. Focusing on India, the chief political forces are those of the bourgeoisie, led by the Congress and the BJP, and those of the workers and the poor, led by the Stalinist left bloc in parliament and the Maoist left, who are represented by two wings, one effectively leading the Naxalite guerrilla insurrection in the countryside, while the other “unarmed” faction is made up of the various M-L groups operating in the North Indian countryside. The Congress is still the chief political expression of the bourgeois class, giving it a special role among bourgeois parties in India. While the decline of the BJP takes the peculiar form of a transition from fascism to a bourgeois party, the decline of the Stalinist formations is a fitting consummation of their counter revolutionary politics.

The challenge to the present regime has been growing with a combination of rising urban struggles of the working class, armed rural resistance against the forces of Indian capitalism, and an intensifying national liberation movement in Kashmir. Thus, from all directions the bourgeois regime is being threatened by the advances of the working class and its class allies.

However, in all these struggles the single most striking feature is the acute crisis of leadership distorting them. This is evident from a consideration of the weakening of the recent general strike. The crisis of leadership has allowed the Indian bourgeoisie to reorganize, and permitted the Congress Party (presently in government) to re-emerge as the preferred Bonapartist guardian of the common interests of the Indian bourgeoisie. However, despite this consolidation the power of the bourgeoisie is far from absolute and it finds itself challenged from all directions. The petty bourgeoisie is being swayed by the rising tide of proletarian and peasant struggles and turning away from the reactionary forces it once supported.

India’s role in the world today

India’s role in the world today is characterized chiefly by its development as a sub-imperialist nation in a stage of aggressive internal expansion. In order to guarantee India a great power role, the Indian bourgeoisie must aggressively expand into whatever room it finds wherever it finds it, and exploit to the umpteenth degree its own internal labor pool. On the other hand, India faces stiff competition from established imperialist powers in its external expansion. But decades of protectionism and dirigisme have secured for it a massive internal sphere of expansion within which it can exploit one of the largest labor pools in the world. A major feature of this development is the rapid internal expansion of capital and ever deeper penetration of the countryside by market forces, leading to a merciless and irreversible proletarianization of the rural masses. These proletarianized masses are then forced to migrate to the subhuman slums of the swollen cities – a process whitewashed by academic sociologists using the term “urbanization”.

The Indian bourgeoisie has carved out for itself an advanced capital-intensive sector of the economy which it utilizes to the fullest degree to suck out surplus value created by the vast labor-intensive sectors of the economy. The recently proletarianized rural masses end up in these sectors with the lowest wages and the worst working conditions – an equivalent to Lenin’s worker-peasants in pre-revolutionary Russia.

However, the laws of capitalism compel Indian sub-imperialism to expand externally and aggressively to avoid falling victim to powerful foreign imperialist countries. Primarily this expansion has seen massive investments in energy resources in Central Asia and East Africa, and large-scale investments in advanced imperialist metropolises with the most advanced technologies. This development has taken place under conditions of tremendous pressure from established imperialist states, and this has compelled India to use force to secure a dominant sphere for itself. India’s present aggressive militarization can be explained very simply when we see it as a sub-imperialist country fighting to expand its economic and political power to the detriment of other established imperialist nations. India’s naval outposts in South East Africa and its air base in Turkmenistan illustrate this quite clearly.

Tasks for revolutionary Bolsheviks in India

On the basis of the above analysis of India’s class character we can determine the most urgent tasks of revolutionary Bolshevik Leninists in India. India’s position in the world as an emerging sub-imperialist power and the implications of this for South and Central Asia and worldwide makes the task of building a party with an internationalist orientation both necessary and urgent. It is imperative for us to build international solidarity between the working classes of India and the world — most immediately in South Asia and its immediate vicinity. A solid realization of the revolutionary aspirations of the Indian proletariat will come with the creation of a Socialist Federation of South Asia.

The conditions facing us make it imperative that we resist all nationalist deviations as they only serve to botch up the future Indian revolution. We must build with a firm internationalist perspective. What this means in concrete terms for revolutionaries in India is to play a full and enthusiastic part in the process of building the 4th international as the world party for revolution. The struggles erupting in India reflect the reaction of the oppressed classes to exploitation by imperialist forces within their own national boundaries. So we must advance slogans in sync with the struggles in both city and countryside. This is precisely what Stalinists are incapable of doing, and precisely what we as revolutionary Bolsheviks can do with our programme of Transitional Demands.

There is an acute prerevolutionary situation in India and the whole of South Asia. The bourgeois regimes are falling to pieces before our eyes. Under such circumstances the working masses can advance beyond the wildest dreams of half-hearted “left” leaderships and leave them in the dust. We must move hard and fast to wrench the leadership of the masses from the hands of class-collaborators and opportunists, and fight to win the leadership of the working class.

The slogans we advance must reflect this understanding:

For a general strike democratically decided by the rank and file!

All out support to the peasant resistance!

Nationalize all industries, and land without compensation!

Indian troops out of Kashmir! Self-determination for Kashmir!

Down with the government of the oppressors!

Defeat India’s imperialist ambitions! The enemy is at home!

For a Federation of Socialist Republics of South Asia!

Rebuild the IV International!

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