HRDA statement on the arrest of imminent social activist Teesta Setalvad

With the election of the new right wing government at the centre, there has been a renewed attack on activists and intellectuals in India. The most recent victim of the government’s persecution has been imminent human rights activist Teesta Setalvad who was a key figure in exposing the crimes of Modi’s Government in Gujarat during the 2002 riots. We republish the statement in solidarity with Teesta Setalvad by the Human Rights Defenders Alert-India.

HRDA-India: Statement in Support of Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand

The Human Rights Defenders Alerts – India [HRDA], is shocked to hear about the denial of anticipatory bail to renowned human rights activists Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand by the Gujarat High Court on February 12, 2015. The Gujarat High Court in this particular case of an allegation of misuse of funds further commented that ‘The facts of this case reflect the sorry state of affairs of the NGOs’. “How can one seek materialistic pleasure and happiness at the expense of the poor and needy persons. How can one even use five paise which is meant for the poor and the needy. The facts of this case reflect the sorry state of affairs of the NGOs…The donations are made with lot of trust and hope that ultimately the money would reach the poor and the needy. However, here is a case where, in the name of the poor, needy and unfortunate riot-affected victims, lakhs of rupees was received and embezzled,” said the court, adding that it was “shocking and disturbing”. The HRDA strongly condemns the comments of the Judge of the Gujarat High Court as they are completely uncalled for, based without any substantive evidence and seriously impinge on the right of all NGOs and civil society groups. These comments are even before the investigation in the FIR is complete totally damaging to a human rights defender of international repute. The Supreme Court of India, stayed the arrest of the activists and agreed to hear the anticipatory bail plea the next day on February 19, 2015. HRDA appreciates this speedy intervention of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.
This particular case in question is with regard to a trust that was formed in 2007 to build a memorial for the victims in Gulberg Society during the 2002 Gujarat Riots. The Court has also failed to appreciate that ‘Memoralization’ is a human rights engagement that no one but Teesta and her colleagues had attempted to keep the memory of the Gujarat carnage alive in the minds of our Indian society so that the sanctity of our secular fabric is protected from further such attempts. Due to an increase in the land prices, the trust couldn’t afford the said plan and with the due consent of the grant donors utilized the funds for legal aid for the riot victims and petitions challenging the role of the State. An embezzlement case was filed in January 2014 and the Gujarat High Court was moved for an anticipatory bail. For more than a year, the anticipatory bail matter has been pending in court. It is also important to take note of the fact that the Supreme Court has found itself been repeatedly asked to intervene in cases related to the Gujarat Riots. HRDA is alarmed by the speed in which a petition for anticipatory bail has been handled by the Gujarat High Court – for more than one year!! .
This particular matter however is not directly related to the Gujarat Riots, both Teesta and Javed for now over 11 years have been working for justice for the victims and survivors of Gujarat Riots. Their role has been instrumental in obtaining life sentences for former Gujarat State Minister Maya Kodnani, Bajrang Dal Leader Babu Bajrangi and more than a hundred others. This particular denial of anticipatory bail also comes in the light of several senior police officers accused in a series of cases relating to Gujarat Riots being granted bail by the courts and reinstated back in senior positions in the state police.
This is not the first time that Human Rights Defenders working for justice and truth with regard to Gujarat Riots have been targeted. Teesta herself has been targeted in several other false criminal cases for which she had to seek anticipatory bail from the Supreme Court. It is clearly a part of repeated attempts to discredit human rights defenders and attacks on them.
HRDA strongly condemns the ongoing attacks on human rights defenders in the state of Gujarat and this particular case of attack on Teesta, her husband Javed and their colleagues by the State. These repeated attempts by the state of Gujarat to push the activists on defensive line have constantly failed over 11 years. The response of the State is in contrary to the assurances of states in the UN Declaration of HRDs and in fact it emphasizes all the work that Teesta, Javed and their colleagues have been carrying on patiently and silently. HRDA also humbly requests the judiciary to be sensitive to the NGOs and civil society groups and refrain from passing generic statements having serious implication for people and their reputations, constantly working for human rights and development.
HRDA demands that the NHRC which is to organize a national workshop for Human Rights Defenders in New Delhi on the 19th February and to which it has also invited Teesta Setalvad to participate, will in effect ensure that it [the NHRC] intervenes before the Supreme Court of India in the anticipatory bail petition under Sec 12(b) of the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993, because this is a matter which impinges on the human rights of human rights defenders. It is at times like this that an institutional protector of HRDs, like the NHRC has to take ‘extra-ordinary’ measures for extra-ordianry human rights defenders like Teesta.
HRDA reminds the higher Courts of this country that HRDs across the globe are now armed with a mandate from the U N Declaration on Human Rights Defenders 1998 which mandates them to: individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels. [Art 1]. HRDs also have the right to offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance or other relevant advice and assistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. [Art 9[3][C]. It is this engagement that Teesta and her colleagues have been engaging in Gujarat since 2002.

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On the Ninetieth Anniversary of Lenin’s death: new aspects of his Testament – Written by Francesco Ricci – PdAC

Originally published on http://www.litci.org/en

Lenin’s last struggle, the first battle against Stalinism

In the Central Committee of October 6, 1922 Lenin was absent. Stalin presents a text that strongly limits the state monopoly on foreign trade, which is approved. A few days later Lenin sends a letter to the CC with a hard criticism of its decision. On December 13, Lenin writes to Trotsky and, realizing that their positions on this issue converge, asks him to make a battle on their behalf at the next meeting of the governing body.

Giving a few steps back: Why Lenin does not participate in the meetings and merely writes letters? Because he is seriously ill and bedridden. He had suffered a first stroke. But since the last Party Congress he attended, the XI, in the spring of 1922 he starts a battle against the bureaucratization evils he perceives to be growing in the state of the Soviets. In this Congress, in a speech made ​​on 27 March, he states: “The machine refused to obey the hand that guided it.” (1) That is why, a few months later, in a private meeting he proposes to Trotsky to form a bloc “against bureaucracy in general and against the Organizational Bureau in particular.” (2) And Organizational Bureau meant the very heart of Stalin’s apparatus.

On the night between the 12th and 13th December another stroke paralyzes Lenin. He can’t attend the CC meeting, but, after getting better, he writes to the CC on 16 December informing its members he had reached a full agreement with Trotsky, who would defend their common view at the next meeting. In the CC of 18 December Lenin and Trotsky’s position is approved and the previous resolution is modified. Stalin notes with concern the movement of a Lenin whose disease couldn’t stop him completely. So, he passed a motion in this very CC by which the full responsibility for Lenin’s care would be trusted to him. His desire is to isolate him, so he asks the doctors to determine a limitation of the patient’s political activity to a few minutes a day in which Lenin could only dictate a few lines to the secretaries, but wouldn’t receive the answers to his letters, or talk of politics with the rare visitors allowed in his room.

The prohibition, as rightly note by the historian Jean Jacques Marie, is deprived of any medical basis: moreover, to prevent a revolutionary who spent his life immersed in politics from engaging in politics, actually meant to seek to destroy his strength, worsen his disease. In fact, the real Stalin’s concern is not Lenin’s illness but, as J. J. Marie writes: Stalin wants to have “his hands on the man who decided to start a struggle with Trotsky against him.”

Knowing the first victory won in the CC, on 21 December, Lenin dictates to Krupskaya a letter to Trotsky: “I suggest that we should not stop and should continue the offensive.” (4) The offensive which Lenin speaks of is the one against Stalin and the bureaucrats the secretary of the CC is organizing around himself.

But Stalin is quickly informed of the fact that Krupskaya left Lenin dictate a message to Trotsky. Then he phones her and insults her, threatening to send her to the disciplinary bodies by compromising Lenin’s treatment. Lenin will know this episode only three months later: this precision, as we shall see, is significant because, unlike several commentators’ opinions, the divergence between Stalin and his wife did not affect the Testament that Lenin began to dictate by those days.

The Testament

The story of the last Lenin’s struggle (to recover the expression with which Lewin titled his book on the subject) is generally neglected by Stalinist, social-democratic or bourgeois historians. Why? Because it is a stony ground for the theory of Lenin-Stalin continuity, essential to both yesterday bureaucrats, who claim Lenin for the justification of their crimes, and the bourgeoisie and their agents to liquidate the Communism and every project of destruction of social class societies.

What was later known as Testament are the notes that Lenin wanted to send to the XII Congress of the Bolshevik Party, scheduled for the following months (5). His last dictates to the secretaries, Maria Volodiceva and Lydia Fotieva start on December 23, 1922 and end on January 4, 1923, when he dictates a last important message. In the text, Lenin starts by giving reason to Trotsky against Stalin on the debate about the Gosplan (the State Commission for planning). Then he carries out an evaluation of the main leaders of the party.

Lenin highlights “the unlimited authority” that Stalinconcentrated in his hands. After saying that Stalin and Trotsky are “the two outstanding leaders of the present CC”, he adds that Trotsky is “personally perhaps the most capable man in the present C.C.” and indicates some limitations of the leader with whom he led a battle against bureaucracy (“excessive preoccupation with the purely administrative side of the work” and “excessive self-assurance”). But this is a trifle compared with the merciless judgment he makes of all other leading exponents of the ruling party.

He goes on. On January 4, an additional note on Stalin said: “Stalin is too rude and this defect, although quite tolerable in our midst and in dealing among us Communists, becomes intolerable in a Secretary-General. That is why I suggest that the comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post and appointing another man in his stead who in all other respects differs from Comrade Stalin in having only one advantage, namely, that of being more tolerant, more loyal, more polite and more considerate to the comrades, less capricious, etc.”

It’s a blow aimed at proposing the removal of Stalin. Lenin does not seek compromising with Stalin, he indeed warns Trotsky against the maneuvers of the party secretary. And the battle continues. Now Lenin decides to take up the defense of the Georgian question against the chauvinistic policy supported by Stalin.

This is how Trotsky sums up the story in his autobiography: “Lenin names only six people there, and sums them up briefly, weighing each word. Unquestionably, his object in making the will was to facilitate the work of direction for me. He naturally wanted to do it with the least possible amount of friction. He talks about every one most guardedly, softening the most devastating judgments. At the same time he qualifies with reservations the too definite indication of the one whom he thinks entitled to first place. Only in his analysis of Stalin does one feel a different tone which in the later postscript to the will is nothing short of annihilating.” Then, Trotsky adds: “two more months passed during which the situation took definite shape. Lenin was now preparing not only to remove Stalin from his post of general secretary, but to disqualify him before the party as well.”

In order to “disqualify Stalin” and continue the battle Lenin then dictates two articles: “How we should reorganize the Workers and Peasants Inspection” and, in an even more explicit way, “Better fewer, but better.” Note that the Inspection that Lenin proposes to reorganize urgently was headed until a few days before by Stalin. This is also a shot against Stalin. The Politburo of the party discusses the opportunity to publish on Pravda the second of two articles. A leader close to Stalin had proposed to only print a copy and show it to Lenin … Finally the text is published on the 4th of March on Pravda.

Immediately after Lenin wrote to the Georgian leaders declaring solidarity with their position and against the Stalin’s position of “Great-Russia”, that is, against the denial of the right to self-determination of Georgia and the possibility to give life to a federated republic with Russia and not subordinate to it.

On this occasion Lenin turns to the leader he most estimates, the one he felt should replace him in case of his death: Trotsky. On March 5th, he dictates a letter to Trotsky asking him to do the same he did during the debate on the monopoly. “I would feel at ease if you agreed to undertake its defense. [of the Georgian question, editor]” (6). He also informed Trotsky, always through one of the secretaries, that he wanted to attack frontally Stalin in the upcoming Congress.

Meanwhile, he was also informed by Krupskaya, his wife and member of the party leadership, of the offenses Stalin had inflicted on her in December last year. At that point, a letter addressed to Stalin was written asking if he was prepared to make apologies, because “what has been done against my wife I consider having been done against me as well.”

On March 9th, while the battle is just beginning, Lenin is hit by another stroke, which deprives him of speaking.

From March 1923 to January 1924, the month of his death, Lenin doesn’t see Stalin. The relations between them are broken.

The fate of the testament

What about the testament of Lenin?

The text is not read at the XII Congress (April 1923). After Lenin’s death (January 21, 1924) Krupskaya brings the document to the CC and asks that the text should be read at the XIII Congress, which would take place in May 1924. But the leaders, at the suggestion of Stalin, Kamenev and Zinovev (which have formed a secret fraction), propose that it is kept confidential. Trotsky is outvoted. At the insistence of Krupskaya, it is decided that it would be read only to the heads of delegations. The meeting takes place on May 22, 1924, with the commitment of those present to keep the secret and not even take notes: the text is not delivered or read to the general audience of delegates.

It would be published abroad, first some fragments, then full, by the American militant Max Eastman, close to Trotsky, a year later. In Russia the will was published only in 1956, by Khrushchev, as a tool in the fight that had opened between the various fractions in dispute after the death of Stalin (1954), during the so-called “de-Stalinization.”

Many books have been written, starting from the considerations of Deutscher, a leading biographer of Trotsky, for a phase a Trotskyist leader (hostile to the constitution of the Fourth International in 1938), about the alleged hesitation of Trotsky. Why didn’t he claim the publication of the text? Why didn’t he launch immediately the battle against Stalin?

In fact, as all the best biographers have documented and in the more recent studies, Trotsky simply didn’t think it was tactically appropriate, with Lenin seriously ill, and even soon after Lenin’s death, to launch a frontal attack for the removal of Stalin. He tries to fight a preparatory political battle; he tries to accumulate the necessary forces. Hence his acceptance of a series of compromises in that he understands to be a battle that can’t be won by him alone and in one shot. Above all, he hopes that the revolution in Europe, in Germany, can break the Russian isolation, the main cause for the advance of the bureaucracy.

1994, a first falsification of the testament is discovered

Until the opening of archives in Moscow, following the collapse of the Stalinism at the end of the eighties, this is all that we knew of Lenin’s testament.

The same Trotsky explained how that single sentence in the text in which Lenin refers to him in relatively negative terms had to be considered in the context of the reasoning of Lenin, who designated him, nevertheless, as his successor at the head of the revolution.

In particular, in the article “On the suppressed testament of Lenin” (see bibliography at the end) Trotsky insisted on the distorted interpretation of that sentence made by the Stalinists who tried to turn it into a “synthesis” of the testament but not based on the original version.

Which sentence is this? One in which Lenin, having already spoken positively of Trotsky, comes to talk of two other leading members, Kamenev and Zinoviev. He emphasizes their “not accidental” behavior when they committed a serious political mistake in the course of 1917. However, Lenin adds that in any case these errors “ought as little to be used against them personally as the non-Bolshevism of Trotsky.”

This is the “original” version – or at least it was considered original even by Trotsky. Stalin instead circulated readings in which that sentence was reversed: both the mistakes of Kamenev and Zinoviev and Trotsky’s non-Bolshevik past could neither be underestimated nor forgotten because they would have consequences in the present time.

The fact is that Trotsky never publicly questioned the phrase (at least in the version that was believed to be original), although indubitably those words are inconsistent with the rest of the text, and especially with the context of the last Lenin’s battle. Why would Lenin return to the non-Bolshevik past of whom was considered by him, after 1917, “the best of the Bolsheviks,” the main leader with Lenin of the revolution? Why would he deliver a weapon into the hands of Stalin just as Trotsky was his main ally in the battle against Stalin and the bureaucracy?

For years it remained an unclear point. Until, with the opening of archives in Moscow, new documents have been found. Let’s see.

In 1994, the historian Yuri Buranov writes a book called Lenin’s will. Falsified and forbidden. From the Secret Archives of the former Soviet Union (see bibliography). In the book he takes up a theme that had already been dealt on Russian magazines in 1991 and which was also given space in the Italian newspaper La Stampa in articles by Giulietto Chiesa (correspondent of L’Unitá in Moscow for years).

In the articles of 1991 as well as in the book of 1994 Buranov explains that he found in the Soviet archives a manuscript page of December 23, 1922: the one that opens the text of Lenin then known as the testament, copied (as confirmed by the handwriting expert) by Nadiezhda Alliluyeva, one of the secretaries of Lenin and also Stalin’s wife.

The thing is interesting for several reasons: Alliluyeva was not on duty that day at Lenin’s room (as evidenced by the diaries of the secretaries: see bibliography). Volodiceva was on duty that day. The latter – as had already emerged from the interviews remained unpublished until 1989, made ​​in 1967 by the historian Aleksandr Bek – had admitted that, while Lenin dictated his testament, the secretaries immediately brought the text to Stalin.

When Volodiceva, by order of the manager of the secretaries, Fotieva, brings the first dictation of Lenin in the study of Stalin, she finds Alliluyeva, Bukharin and a couple of other leaders. Stalin reads the text and, visibly frightened, gives the order to burn it. However, he urges his wife to make a copy and keep it, while Volodiceva is ordered to write on the copy to be kept in the archives a couple of phrases that Lenin had not dictated. Is from this modified version that five copies which are usually known as the testament of Lenin​​ are made.

So the text found in the archives by Buranov, handwritten by Stalin’s wife, is a copy of the original text actually dictated by Lenin. This page differs by a sentence from the one published in the Works of Lenin, and widely regarded for decades as the original: whereas Lenin is said to agree with Trotsky on the question of the State Planning Commission [Gosplan, led by Stalin] (I agree, in this regard, with Comrade Trotsky), by Stalin’s order it was added: “Up to a certain point and under certain conditions.”

These few words, as can be understood, spill the meaning of the sentence: they not only relativize the agreement between Lenin and Trotsky on that important point (it was the beginning of the battle against Stalin) but they almost reveal a contrast between the two men that Lenin would solve with a partial compromise.

Buranov has thus demonstrated unequivocally that Stalin did falsify the testament, at least with regard to the page where it was found the copy of the original. But can one believe that the rest of the text, which was delivered on time by the secretaries to Stalin, dictated gradually by Lenin, has no other forgeries?

Canfora’s hypothesis

Several years later, Luciano Canfora, a historian with Stalinist training, and certainly not suspected of sympathy for Trotsky, raises a new question. The general aim of his research is to prove an alleged and non-existent difference between Stalin and Togliatti, to beatify the latter with the so-called “Italian road to socialism,” i.e. Stalinist reformism led by one of the worst Stalinists in history, Togliatti.

In fact, he published a book dedicated to the falsification of various historical texts. The book also deals with Lenin’s testament.

Summarizing the discoveries made by Buranov proving irrefutably that at least the wording of December 23 has been tampered with by Stalin, Canfora asks: and if the same thing, using the same method, i.e. adding a sentence to change the understanding, had been made ​​in other parts of the text?

Re-reading the testament, it is clear that the its most contradictory phrase is the one we mentioned above, about Trotsky’s non-Bolshevik past. That phrase has been (in the “original” or in its deformed version) now and for decades the workhorse of the Stalinists: the phrase by which they tried to obscure the true meaning of the testament.

Some linguists, experts in Russian, confirm to Canfora that just that phrase, in Russian, is ungrammatical, it disagrees from a syntactic point of view with the main clause.

Canfora’s reasoning is at this point very simple: we know that Stalin did falsify a phrase at the beginning of the text; we know that he had the opportunity, through the secretaries, to make other “fixes” to the text by Lenin (who was unaware that his pages would end directly on the desk of Stalin); we know that phrase, fundamental, is out of tune with the intentions of Lenin; we know that phrase, even from a linguistic point of view, does not agree with the text.

Canfora has no evidence, because it could not find copies of the other original pages of the testament. It’s possible that, despite falsifying it, Stalin has not made ​​a copy as he did previously. Or it is possible, if not probable, that the copies made ​​were lost in the archives or have been destroyed. The conclusion of the historian, I repeat, who has no sympathy for Trotskyism, is nevertheless: the near certainty, based on all the evidence, that Lenin had never dictated in his testament a sentence about Trotsky’s non-Bolshevik past.

Knowing what has Stalin made later: the systematic falsification of the whole revolutionary history to credit himself a primary role in the crucial moments that he has never had; the extermination of all the Bolshevik leaders; perhaps even, as some historians suspect, even without having the evidence, the poisoning of Lenin; knowing all this, it wouldn’t certainly be a surprise if Canfora’s hypothesis coincide with the true facts.

It is significant that neither the discovery of Buranov nor the hypothesis advanced by Canfora have found space in historical studies after their publications. To our knowledge, this issue has caused only a few journalistic interest, and mostly in Italy, even after the amplification given by Canfora after Buranov.

Of course, if even Canfora’s hypothesis was based on a confirming document, the find would neither change the course of history nor would add much to the crimes of Stalinism. But it would be further evidence, added to infinite others, that between Lenin and Stalin there was an unbridgeable abyss. On the one hand the revolution and the Bolshevik Party which was its architect; on the other the counter-revolution and the Stalinist bureaucracy responsible for it.

A curiosity: Canfora’s mistake

In closing, it’s worth reporting the fact, which apparently escaped to all those who reviewed the book by Canfora, that False history in turn contains an involuntary mistake, or at least a blunder, which is unforgivable in a book that exposes the historical falsifications.

In rebuilding the moment when the party leaders were brought to the attention of Lenin’s testament, Canfora relies on the reconstruction made by ​​the writer Emil Ludwig. He, citing Radek (at that time a close leader to Stalin), wrote of a “leap from his seat” allegedly given by Trotsky during a CC session when Stalin would be reading the testament and in particular at the time of the reading of the sentence about his non-Bolshevism. According to Ludwig, repeated by Canfora, Trotsky would have asked Stalin to reread that passage.

After correctly pointing out that actually the first reading of the testament was given in a closed session of the XIII Congress, in May 1924, Canfora takes the rest of Ludwig and Radek’s story for granted, and ventures in assumptions that perhaps Trotsky found that sentence suspect, but was not able to prove it. Probably, Canfora adds, Trotsky already knew the original text (without the offending sentence), as one of the secretaries of Lenin, Marija Gljasser, was politically close to him and could have given him the information.

But Canfora makes a mistake that could have been avoided if he had bothered to read Trotsky’s article, written in 1932 (see bibliography), dedicated to the story of the testament. Trotsky explains that Ludwig-Radek are lying to exaggerate the legend propagated by the Stalinists about the fact that the testament contains harsh accusations of Lenin to Trotsky’s non-Bolshevik past, whereas in the original text (well, we can say today, the text Trotsky supposed to be original) Lenin says that it should not be imputed to Trotsky his non-Bolshevik past. Trotsky adds that he has not “leapt from his seat” and that the entire reconstruction of Ludwig is false not only because (as also noted by Canfora) the testament was read at another time to the leaders, but because furthermore it was Kamenev who read it not Stalin. Trotsky said he actually gave a “leap from the seat,” but on another occasion. It was at a plenum of the Central Committee, in 1926, when various unpublished texts by Lenin so far were read (this time by Stalin). It was on this occasion that Trotsky interrupted Stalin while he was reading the letter of March 5, 1923 (which we mentioned above). In this letter Lenin invites Trotsky to defend the Georgian question in the next CC meeting. The letter ended with very affectionate words, which were rare in Lenin: “With the very best comradely greetings.” In reading, Stalin changed some words and read a drier and more official “communist greetings.” At this moment Trotsky (who remembered by memory this significant detail on Lenin’s letter to him) interrupted Stalin and asked him to read the exact words. Which Stalin was obliged to do, embarrassed, because those “With the very best comradely greetings” were addressed to the leader with whom Lenin decided to start his last struddle, the first made ​​by the Bolsheviks against the Stalinist degeneration.

Note

(1) VI Lenin, in Collected Works, vol. 33, p. 253.

(2) L. Trotsky, My Life, p. 441.

(3) J. J. Marie, Lénine, p. 271 (in French).

(4) VI Lenin, op.cit., Vol. 45.

(5) See VI Lenin, op.cit., Vol. 36.

(6) See. VI Lenin, op.cit., Vol. 45.

———————————————-

Bibliography

The book I have based on Moshe Lewin’s Lenin’s last struggle, 1968. This is the first text that sheds light on the matter, also based on the Diary of the Secretaries of Lenin (see below). Lewin’s book is more interesting for the accurate reconstruction of the facts than for author’s conclusions, not without a certain psychology.

The Diary of Secretaries of Lenin, are notes of service taken by Lenin’s collaborators, recorded between November 1922 and March 1923. It was published for the first time in 1963 in Russia by a history magazine, and then translated and published on Cahiers du monde russe et soviétique, of April-June 1967, edited by Lewin and Jean Jacques Marie. The text is also available on the Internet, http://www.persee.fr/web/revues.

Indispensable is also the article by Trotsky “On the suppressed Testament of Lenin”, 1932, published in July 1934 on the Trotskyist magazine New International then repeatedly reprinted by Pathfinder Press, New York. Italian edition is edited by Paul Casciola in a brochure for the Centro Studi Pietro Tresso: Lenin-Trotsky. In lotta contro lo stalinismo. La vera storia del Testamento di Lenin (1988). (Lenin-Trotsky. In the struggle against Stalinism. The true story of Lenin’s testament)

These books devote a few pages to the story: E.H. Carr, The death of Lenin. The interregnum, 1923-1924, Cambridge University Press, 1965; P. Broué, The Lost Revolution. Life of Trotsky,1879-1940, in particular in chapter 20, “The bloc with Lenin”, in chapter 22, “Lost opportunities” and in chapter 23, “Debate without Lenin”; Louis Fischer, The Life of Lenin, Harper & Row, 1964, in particular in the chapter L “Lenin’s last will and testament.”

The most recent discoveries about Stalin’s manipulation of the Testament are analyzed in Jurij Buranov, Lenin’s will. Falsified and forbidden; from the Secret Archives of the former Soviet Union, Prometheus Books, 1994. Buranov’s find was echoed by the Italian press in the article by Giulietto Church, published on La Stampa, July 12, 1991: “E’ un falso di Stalin il Testamento di Lenin” (Lenin’s testament is falsified by Stalin). (available on the newspaper’s website). Luciano Canfora resumes the information by Buranov and advances his hypothesis of further possible falsification in the book La storia falsa (The false story), Rizzoli, 2008.

The strength and the limitations of the revolutionary process in North Africa and Middle East

[Originally published by LIT-CI here ; link

The revolutionary process initiated in the late 2010 in North Africa and Middle East is still one of the centres of the world political situation.

As every revolution, it includes unprecedented combinations. As every complex process, it draws countless discussions. This text pretends to point out more general trends highlighting its already very evident limitations. We will also resume the discussions regarding this process.

Is there or is there not a revolution underway?

The discussion about what is going on in the region begins with the definition: is there or is there not a revolution underway? Right from the very beginning we assumed that this process was a revolutionary one which originated a polemic with the absolute majority of the left.

Trotsky postulated a classical definition of a revolution: “The most indubitable feature of a revolution is the direct interference of the masses in historical events… But at those crucial moments when the old order becomes no longer endurable to the masses, they break over the barriers excluding them from the political arena, sweep aside their traditional representatives, and create by their own interference the initial groundwork for a new régime… The history of a revolution is for us first of all a history of the forcible entrance of the masses into the realm of rulership over their own destiny.”(Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution) Most of the left cannot envisage a revolution underway in the region. They can see specific and momentary events, some “rebellions” as if they were some explosions of righteous anger, and then vanish. In this way, they miss out the global nature of what is happening in North Africa and the Middle East. When a revolutionary process begins, nothing remains the same; there are qualitative changes in the actual facts. And the actuality in that region is very different since the moment the revolutionary process began.

“Arab Spring.” And now what: Winter?

There is another discussion as to what is going on in that region. After almost four years, most of the world left – that never regarded these events as a revolution – consider the process as something finished for all practical purposes.

At first, these trends assumed the journalistic definition of “Arab Spring” to describe the democratic uprising that toppled such regimes as the Tunisian and Egyptian. Now they talk about “the end of the spring” and the beginning of “winter”.

However, a long and complex process as this one includes powerful and stubborn confrontations between revolution and counterrevolution, with ups and downs, with partial victories and defeats. This definition is richer than the simplified comparison with the sequence of seasons of the year.

There is a moment now marked by impasses and ebbs – quite different from the generalised ascent in 2011 – but there is also the opening of new battlefronts, such as those of the Kurds and the resuming of fight in Palestine and the rearrangements that these front cause.

There is a new moment in the civil war in Syria, with the military retreat of the opposition to Assad’s regime together with the military offensive of the government and the imperialist air attacks on the Islamic State.

In Iraq there is a new reality due to the Islamic State’s headway. There is a new civil war, this time it is a confrontation between two counterrevolutionary sectors: the Shiite administration linked to Iran against Islamic State. The struggle for oil fields control lies behind the civil war.

In Egypt, al-Sisi won the elections and launched a fierce attack on the workers increasing the fuel by 80%. It is quite likely that he will clash against a new outburst of strikes. The vicious invasion of Gaza by Israel was defeated by the Palestinian resistance and the global repudiation to the genocide of the Palestinian people.

The impasses of the moment reflect deep limitations

On the one hand, the revolution has heavy limitations to be rooted. In the first place because the working class still represent but a slight weight in the entire process. Secondly, because the revolutionary leadership is practically absent. This combination prevents the mass movement from making headway and opening a higher stage of the revolutions.

Taking advantage of these limitations, the imperialist counteroffensive and the violent repression by the dictatorships have more often than not forced the uprising to recede. But the counterrevolution also shows its own limitations. The continuity and the deepening of the economic crisis lead to increasing pauperisation of the masses. Day after day, the maintenance of the hated dictatorships renews the political radicalisation of the process. The result is the reactivation of the motivations of the revolution causing the ascent to be renewed after each defeat.

There has been neither definite defeat of the masses nor stabilisation in the region. The new Israeli defeat in its attempt to invade Gaza and the extension of the conflict to Turkey prove this.

To substitute the end of the revolution for the current moment of weakness and impasse is a catastrophic error, typical of petty-bourgeois impressionists.

Specific features of the revolutionary process

The development of the confrontations between the revolution and counterrevolution in these four years allows us to take note of some specific features and tendencies of this process.

There are factors in the region that make the conflicts deeper and more severe. In the first place, the biggest oil reserves in the world, strategic for imperialism, are to be found there.

Secondly, imperialist exploitation and oppression literally turn this rich oil region into a barrel of powder. After the peak of bourgeois nationalism as the Egyptian Nasserism and the Baath party (in Syria) in the 50’s of last century, there came a process of recolonisation by imperialism with the capitulation and association of local bourgeoisies. These corrupt and repressive bourgeoisies have an extremely luxurious life contrasted with the tremendous poverty of the majority of the population.

Thirdly, The Nazi fascist state of Israel is also to be found in the region. Even though it is true that Israel is a guarantee of the military domination of imperialism, it is also true that it is a factor of permanent political radicalisation, of conflicts and wars. Israel cannot coexist peacefully together with an Arab population opposing the usurpation of Palestinian territories.

Fourthly, the region was almost entirely dominated by despised dictatorships that ruled for decades before the revolutionary process. Vicious class antagonisms and national oppression in general cannot be solved within the framework of bourgeois democracy.

These structural elements have been very much affected by the economic crisis that began in 2007-2008. Unemployment increase, especially among the youth, as well as of the prices of basic consumption, made the discontent explode. Desperation and lack of perspective for a better future drove the masses to action.

It is no coincidence that the starting point of the entire process was the self-immolation of a door-to-door salesman in Tunisia when the police confiscated his fruit trolley. The protests that ensued spread throughout the country and set fire to the entire region.

Permanent revolution in the region

The process of permanent revolution in the region incorporates these factors. When workers and oppressed peoples of these countries fight against poverty they unconsciously challenge the exploitation and oppression by imperialism and the associated local bourgeoisies.

This economic, material background has not been solved by any of the bourgeois governments that have momentarily been imposed. The contrary is true: they merely worsened the political crises and the wars. The whole process is aggravated by the existence and actions of the State of Israel.

This is a revolution where the urban popular masses are the social subject, particularly the youth, the unemployed and precarious workers.

The proletariat is economically and socially important in several of these countries, such as Egypt and Iran. It is no coincidence that the of the 24,000-workers strike at the textile factory in Machala (Egypt) in 2006 inspired the foundation of the Movement 26th April, one of the engines of the revolutionary process that began in Egypt 2011.

In other countries, the influence of the working class is smaller. On the other hand, reformist leaderships are doing their best in order to avoid any independent proletarian role and so they broaden the backwardness in the level of awareness and in the organisation of the working class.

Urban popular masses are the social subject in these revolutions. In the midst of them, there were workers as individuals but not as an organised and leading class.

In most of the countries of the region, the democratic tasks became the central goals at first. This has nothing to do with the Stalinist stageist policy, where the permanent goal is to subordinate the proletariat to some sector of “democratic” or “nationalist” bourgeoisie.

This is all about the definition that for most of the countries, the centre of the programme at present is the fall of the dictatorships, clearing the path for the socialist revolution, in a similar way that Trotsky envisaged in the Spanish revolution, or in the Russian February revolution.

This allows the unity of action between those who fight these dictatorships, but at the same time imposes on us a constant struggle for proletarian hegemony of the revolutionary process and independent from the bourgeoisie. In the imperialist epoch, revolutions in backward countries start with minimum or democratic demands that the bourgeoisie is unable to comply, pushing the proletariat to lead these struggles, which can only be resolved with the seizure of power.

Another feature of the concept of permanent revolution is fundamental to understand the region and its international character: it is a whole region that is boiling, where processes interact with each other directly. The beginning of the Tunisian revolution quickly spread to neighbouring countries. Israel’s defeat in Gaza was celebrated throughout the region. The Kurdish struggle against IS affects the whole region, in particular Turkey and Syria.

Absence of revolutionary leadership

The mass movement leadership that emerged after the capitalist restoration in the European East are much more fragile because they are not strongly influenced by the proletariat. This is a general feature in the beginning of the century and in the region it is even more accentuated, not only because of the uneven presence of the proletariat from one country to another, but rather because of the lack of strong revolutionary organisations. All this often sterilises the heroic efforts of the masses in struggle.

The role of the traditional left organisations in the region, in particular of Stalinism, of capitulation to the bourgeois nationalism is a fundamental part of this situation.

Very often it is easier to seek religious, of race or of gender identities than of class. This results in fragmentation and in this particular region the Islamic religion predominates.

This region has been traditionally divided according to religious terms, which conceals particular bourgeoisie interests, mainly the dispute for oil resources.

The limits of the bourgeois democracy

In Latin America, a series of democratic revolutions defeated dictatorships in Argentina (1982), Brazil (1984), Uruguay (1985) bringing about a process that led to the establishment of bourgeois democratic regimes over most of the continent.

And yet, in the North Africa and the Middle East this did not happen. In the last four years the overthrow of dictatorships and the establishment of bourgeois democracies in most countries have not happened.

Convulsive processes with insurrections, civil wars, coups did take place but there was no establishment of bourgeois democracy. The same motives (oil, Israel) that originated the dictatorships make their fall more difficult. In Egypt, the Bonapartist regime was maintained even after the fall of Mubarak and Morsi.

In Libya, after the fall of Gaddafi, imperialism has been trying to rebuild the State, but so far they have not managed to stabilise any government, constantly challenged by militias from different groups.

In Iraq, the withdrawal of imperialist troops did not stabilise a national unity government as desired by imperialism, much less a bourgeois democracy. It was established a Shiite government aligned with Iran, with strong Bonapartist characteristics. The Sunni rebellion was capitalized by the Islamic state, and the country is experiencing a new civil war, now between two counterrevolutionary poles.

In Syria, the civil war goes on, now including the confrontation of the regime and imperialism with the Islamic State. In Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia a fierce repression managed to defeat the protests up to now.

The exception is Tunisia, where the Ben Ali’s administration was defeated as well as the dictatorial regime that used to rule the country.

Will these facts change due to the development of the situation as a whole? Yes, it can be. The revolutionary ascent can do lots of things. What we want to assert is that so far this has not been a generalised phenomenon.

Imperialist decadence imposes limits to its own intervention

American imperialism is hegemonic in economic, political and military terms. It is the only nuclear super power, which turns the possibility of a new world war remote at this stage.

But there is an element of reality that we need to analyse. The decline is of imperialism as a whole, not just the U.S. The resultant is that this hegemony is becoming more and more parasitic, with increasing subordination to the great financial capital.

Since its defeat in Vietnam in 1975, American imperialism has been losing its capacity to discipline the world in military terms. That defeat caused the “Vietnam syndrome”: the rejection by the American people of new wars that drive their children to death. While the American imperialism must coexist with bourgeois democracy, they need to respond to these pressures.

After the attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001, Bush started a counteroffensive to overcome this situation by using the alibi of “fighting against terrorism”. This, among other things, produced the invasion of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003).

The defeat of Bush’s counteroffensive, particularly in Iraq, resumed powerfully this reflex in American people, this time as “Iraq Syndrome”. This factor is still one of the imperialism’s limitations to intervene in the region.

As a rule imperialism responds to this reality with air attacks, avoiding the exposition of their troops by land invasions, or even outsourcing occupation to other countries, as in the case of Haiti.

At present, for example, imperialism would be in far better military conditions to demolish the Islamic State compared to the attack on Saddam Hussein in 2003. It cannot do so due to political conditions at home that were favourable after the Twin Towers, but not now. So, they have to restrain themselves to air raids.

Bourgeois Islamic trends

Islamic nationalism has been on the ebb tide since the 70s, from Nasserism of Sadat and Mubarak to the Baath party of Saddam Hussein and al-Assad.

After the capitulation to imperialism, the governments from that origin began to implement neoliberal plans in the region. This included Egypt, Syria, Libya and Iraq with dictators who became the target of the wrath of the masses as well as other administrations in the region.

Taking advantage of the dictatorships’ crisis, several traditional bourgeois Islamic parties took office and experienced important crises, as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Ennahda in Tunisia. Perhaps this is what is now beginning to happen to Erdogan’s AKP in Turkey.

And yet, even if decadent, we cannot underestimate these trends due to their mass influence as well as the cyclical crises of their opponents.

Side by side with the people against the Syrian and Libyan dictatorships? Take no sides?

There is another big controversy with much of the left that arose with the outbreak of the revolutionary process in North Africa and the Middle East. When these demonstrations clashed with dictatorships as in Libya or Syria, a new issue was posed: stand with the fighting people or close to those hated dictatorships? This debate took even greater color when the fight has evolved to the military ground turning into civil wars in these countries.

Most of the left came out in defense of those dictatorships, denying the ongoing revolutions and reducing all to imperialist interventions to overthrow “anti-imperialist” governments. They purposely forgot all the capitulation to imperialism of those bourgeoisies, which abandoned their nationalist attitudes of the past to apply the neoliberal plans in their countries. The government of Assad and Gaddafi were supported directly by imperialism until the masses rebelled in these countries, and imperialism had to differentiate from them.

We suffered attacks in full Stalinist style and were accused of being “allies of imperialism” because we supported the peoples of these countries against their governments.

The Cuban and Venezuelan administrations, which supported these dictatorships, drew our attention to their attitude if great ascents dare to challenge them.

At this moment, the position of these trends once again collides with reality. Imperialist air raids against the positions of the Islamic State (IS) in Syria materialise an explicit alliance between Assad and the imperialist governments. According to the Lebanese paper Al Monitor, the U.S., “which lack reliable allies in Syria, may contemplate the regime as the only force capable of holding back the Islamic state in the north of the country”, so they can see no problem “in letting it occupy areas of Aleppo and its peripheries.”

That is why it is important to ask, “Who is the ally of imperialism at this moment?”

The trends dubbed Trotskyist, such as PTS and SoB put an equals sign between the Assad dictatorship and sectors that rose in arms against it and did not take any sides in this revolution. Remaining neutral in the face of something relatively obvious as the struggle of masses against despised dictators is certainly a very serious error.

Failing to see the difference between the fighting masses and their bourgeois or reformist leaders is a foul manner to start any analysis of any process. But even if it were wrong anywhere else, it is even more so in such complex process as that of the Middle East and North Africa, where there are no revolutionary leaderships.

Sectarians are not always ultra-left. In this case, these trends have adopted an opportunist posture. They end up by objectively helping the ruling dictatorships and placing as the left wing of the Castro-Chavista block to attack these revolutions.

Our demand of weapons for the Syrian rebels and weapons for the Kobane people is rooted in the Trotskyist tradition in the Spanish revolution, stained by these trends.

Militaries still in office in Egypt

In Egypt, the military regime obtained a victory with the election of Marshal al-Sisi in May 2014. It was the expression of the continuity of the military regime even after the collapse of the Mubarak and Morsi administrations. The recent absolution of Mubarak was just another piece of evidence of this continuity.

But the 54% abstention in the election of al-Sisi evidenced an important degree of erosion of the regime. An enquiry carried out before al-Sisi took over shows that there is quite a broad degree of discontent with the institutions as a whole. Egyptians are more dissatisfied (72%) than satisfied (24%) with the general situation of the country. The militaries had 88% of support of the population after the fall of Mubarak; 73% after the fall of Morsi and 56% with al-Sisi in the office. The Brotherhood, who used to have 53% of support before their collapse, now stand at 42%.

Once in the office, al-Sisi increased the price of fuels between 40% and 79% which caused an increase in several other prices and making dissatisfaction to accrue.

The working class, of great import in the country, carried out a wave of strikes in February this year (2014) that went as far as rushing the fall of Hazem el-Beblawi administration. Now, faced with this new attack, may manifest once more heavily.

A new civil war in Iraq

In Iraq, American imperialism was defeated by the Iraqi resistance and their troops had to retreat in 2011.

This was expressed in the character of the Shiite Prime minister Nuri Malaki’s government. It was not established as a mere puppet of imperialism, but as part of an agreement with the Iranian Shiite dictatorship. This alternative looked like the best thing to guarantee some stability and to weaken the Iraqi resistance, mainly the Sunni (Saddam Hussein’s ethnicity) something that, at that moment, was in American interest as much as in Iranian.

The U.S. policy was for a national unity administration that would include the Shiite, the Sunni and the Kurds, but Maliki, interested in the exclusive control over oil, carried out an administration of exclusion of the other sectors.

This facilitated the crisis and the Sunni rebellions that ended by being capitalised by ISIS (later on Islamic State), a counterrevolutionary bourgeois alternative. In a rapid offensive, ISIS defeated the Iraqi army fitted out by the U.S. – who fled in disgrace without a combat, and began their control of the Sunni territory of Iraq.

The fall of Maliki, who was substituted by a new administration led by al-Abadi, aims at resuming the imperialist proposal of a government of national unity (with a Sunni vice-president) in order to oppose the Islamic State.

But the civil war goes on. The threat of the division is still posed with the constitution of the Caliphate proclaimed by the Islamic State.

The Syrian impasse

The brutal offensive by Assad, supported by Hezbollah, and the activity of the Islamic State weakened the military resistance against the dictatorship. The death toll of the civil war is almost 200,000, plus six million dislodged people and three million living in other countries.

The presence of a fifth column – the forces of the Islamic State – turned the military situation extremely complicated. With the proclamation of the Caliphate, the IS began to challenge Assad’s government directly. As from that moment on, an imperialist air raid began in explicit alliance with Assad.

The Free Army of Syria, the Islamic Front and the Revolutionary Front had to fight the Syrian State supported by Hezbollah on the one hand and, on the other hand, the powerful army of the Islamic State. The military retreat of the opposition is due to this double cause.

And yet, in spite of its overwhelming military superiority, the regime did not manage to annihilate the revolution. Not even the area surrounding the capital – Damascus –is completely controlled by the Assad dictatorship.

The truth is that paying an increasing sacrifice, the anti-dictatorial forces keep up the struggle, controlling important areas, such as parts of Aleppo and Idlib, peripheral areas surrounding Damascus and in the neighbourhood of Homs. Recently they asserted that they had advanced in military terms between the southwest of Damascus, Dara and Kuneitra, and reopened the way toward Lebanon borders.

The leadership of this opposition is bourgeois and pro-imperialist. The so-called National Coalition for the Forces of the Opposition and the Syrian Revolution (CNFORS) openly supports the imperialist intervention in the region.

Even the sectors directly linked to the armed struggle have not been able to unite the struggle against the regime. The formation of the Council of the Command of the Revolution that unites the Islamic Front and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) can be a step ahead from this point of view.

A new counterrevolutionary factor: the Islamic State

With their military headway in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State proclaimed the Caliphate, with a territory that goes from Diyala in the east of Iraq up to Aleppo in the North of Syria. In an attempt to establish a State with religious reference to Islamic caliphates of the 7th century, al-Baghadi proclaimed himself as the continuation of Mohamed.

Actually, this is not at all a religious war, despite the ideological Sunni background. The caliphate of the Islamic State is a dictatorship with fascist methods of terrorism in order to paralyse the opponents, and whose main target is to control a significant part of oil in the region.

By the control of oil fields, the IS would achieve a yearly revenue estimated at between US$ 600 and US$ 800 million, which can fund their need to heavy weaponry (essentially modern tanks and artillery). As the IS became strong enough to confront the Iraqi and Syrian states directly and now they are trying to build up a new state, imperialism must now face them.

The defeat of Israel in Gaza

The Nazi-fascist state of Israel invaded Gaza trying to take advantage of that moment of relative ebb of the Arab revolution. But the fiery Palestinian resistance and the increasing isolation all over the world determined their defeat.

Even with the support of the imperialist media, it turned impossible to avoid the repudiation of the global public opinion against the Palestinian genocide perpetrated by Israel. Radicalised demonstrations of Palestinian youths threaten to turn the protests into a third Intifada.

Israel had to withdraw without having destroyed the military structure of Hamas and was forced to start negotiations for the end of Gaza’s blockade. Israel defeat produced a crisis in that country’s administration and strengthened Hamas.

However, Hamas advanced in the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority tending to the acceptation of the State of Israel and that it should be the Fatah who would control the accesses to Gaza. The crisis of Israel continues: now the Netanyahu administration had to dismiss ministers who did not agree with the proclamation of the Jewish character of the State of Israel and issued a summons to elections in order to deepen the racist guideline. The countries of the European Union who support Zionists but defend a negotiated solution, made a symbolic gesture in order to press Netanyahu to acknowledge the Palestinian State.

Libya: still in crisis

Since the collapse of the Gaddafi’s dictatorship, imperialism has been trying to recompose the Libyan State. They have not yet achieved their goal. There are still no Armed Forces that can have an upper hand over the different militias or an established political regime with a minimum of stability.

After successive administrations in crisis, last June 2014 elections gave rise to a civilian government opposed to the Islamic hegemony of the previous congress. The new administration had to function in Tobruk, near the borderline with Egypt until the old government, still installed in the capital Tripoli could be dissolved.

There are two governments now, two congresses disputing their legitimacy in the country. But, while the mass movement hasn’t built a leadership independent from the bourgeoisie to impose their government the counterrevolution cannot stabilise the country.

The progressive struggle of the Kurds

The Kurds are one of the most numerous oppressed people without a state of their own. Their population of about 40 million people is spread over the territories of four countries: Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.

Theirs is a just struggle for the right to national self-determination and the creation of a single Kurdish nation. From this point of view, the struggle of the Kurds against the IS, the Turkish, Iraqi and Iranian governments is just and progressive in spite of their bourgeois and pro-imperialist leaderships that have to be faced by the exploited classes.

Kobane is a Kurdish city in Syria, next to the border with Turkey. The heroic resistance of the Kurds who live there against the siege made by the IS must be supported by revolutionaries around the world. In spite of the military superiority of the IS, the Kurdish resistance partially managed to force the occupation out of the neighbourhoods of the city. An extremely progressive agreement was reached between the General Command of the YPG (Kurdish militias) and the Free Syrian Army to fight the IS.

This battle polarised the entire region, destabilised Turkey and is making the first great defeat of the IS possible.

Turkey is getting destabilised

At present, Turkey is going through a turbulent integration in the conflict in the Middle East.

In 2013, Erdogan’s AKP, an Islamic bourgeois party, faced huge student demonstrations. Nevertheless, they were defeated and Erdogan (who was then Prime Minister) was elected president in August 2014. Right now the regional process joins the battle due to the Kurdish question. The AKP administration has a practical policy of alliance with the IS in Kobane in order to prevent the strengthening of the Kurdish struggle in Turkey.

For decades now, the PKK (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistani – KurdistanWorkers’ Party) has been fighting an armed struggle for the Kurdish self-determination. Erdogan prevents Kurdish voluntaries from crossing the border to join the Kobane battle and stops any weapons from being sent.

The outcome of this was a Kurdish uprising in Turkey, accompanied by a significant mass movement and Erdogan encouraged fascist bands to attack Kurdish mobilisations against his government. The Syrian conflict is destabilising Turkey.

Tunisian exception

Tunisia is the country where the revolutionary process began in December 2010 and also the country where the first great victory was achieved with the fall of the dictator Ben Ali in January 2011.

The first elected government was that of the Islamic bourgeois nationalist Party of the Rebirth (Ennahda), similar to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This government was defeated by a people’s revolt followed by a general strike after a leader of the reformist opposition, Chokri Belaid, was murdered in 2014.

A Constituent Assembly was elected and it produced one of the most liberal constitutions in the region: it ensures religious freedom, without any lasharia (religious law) imposed, freedom of expression and legal equality between men and women.

In new elections, “Summons for Tunisia”, a secular bourgeois coalition with links to the old officials of the Ali dictatorship won. They ran as an alternative to the Islamism of Ennahda. The new government will have to face the same economic crisis that was one of the basic causes for the beginning of the revolutionary crisis four years ago. Unemployment is still about 16% of the population and 40% among the youth.

Unlike the rest of the region, in Tunisia a dictatorship fell and was replaced by a bourgeois democratic regime.

A revolutionary process with structural impasses and limitations

As we have seen, the impasses and limitations of the revolution in North Africa and Middle East have structural reasons related to the absence of revolutionary leaderships and the slight role played by the proletariat.

On the other hand, neither imperialism nor the local bourgeoisies have been able to provide a solution to the economic crisis and the poverty of the masses. They can neither annihilate the masses violently nor stabilise any government.

There have various attempts at defeating the masses violently. Imperialism has tried it by the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Israel has tried when its army invaded Lebanon in 2006 and more recently Gaza. Assad is now trying to do the same thing in Syria. None of these attempts proved successful so far.

On the other hand, neither has imperialism, as we have already seen, bet on democratic reaction in order to divert the mass movement towards bourgeois democracy.

The outcome is a convulsive process that cannot be stabilised either by the defeat or by partial victories. An extremely contradictory and complex reality and a great challenge for the revolutionary left. But above all, it is a region that is still one of the centres of the world revolution.

The rise of the far right in Nepal

B.D Bista

Far-right groups in Nepal have been gaining some momentum in the recent time. With the major political parties still lingering over the promulgation of a constitution through the constituent assembly and with the masses feeling betrayed by their leaders and with their common day to day grievances going unheard, the far-right has found the perfect time to raise its head again, after being buried by a wave of a Maoist popular revolt and a mass uprising that led to the abolition of monarchy and founding of a secular, federal democratic republic.

The monarchist party RPP Nepal has long been advocating the reinstatement of the monarchy and the Hindu state. From the first constituent assembly that failed to draft a constitution within the stipulated time period to the second constituent assembly, the party has managed to more than triple its votes from 76,864 to 252,579, an increase from a meagre 0.74% to 2.79%. Although it still is a tiny minority of votes, its influence on the people which seems to be increasing day by day, cannot be measured from their votes alone. The two major political parties Nepali Congress and CPN(UM-L) turning their backs on the previously agreed agendas and the Maoist party led by Prachanda and Baburam unable to intervene, with them slipping to being a minority from being the single largest party in the first constituent assembly and the masses feeling alienated from them, it is only helping the cause of the far-right groups.

Moreover, a faction of the Nepali Congress Party led by the notorious Khum Bahadur Khadka, who had boasted of suppressing the Maoist rebellion within weeks when it first broke out in 1996 when he was the minister for home affairs, has formed a Hindu ‘army’ and recently threatened to cut off arms of all non-Hindus in a demonstration. Just yesterday, the Prime Minister Sushil Koirala from the governing party Nepali Congress, while receiving a memorandum from.the monarchist party RPP Nepal, said that he had no idea where secularism came from, implying that his party was never in its favour, unsurprisingly, as all these agendas like abolition of monarchy, secularism etc were pushed forward by the Maoists. To add to that, the ascension of the right-wing Hindu chauvinist party BJP to power in India, which has been historically meddling with Nepali politics, has helped the far-right Hindu groups here in Nepal too. Many of the BJP leaders have openly called for reinstatement of Nepal as a Hindu state. They have been comparatively silent on the question of monarchy. But it’s no secret that they favour a comeback of a Hindu monarchy. The ex-king Gyanendra himself has been lobbying amongst the BJP leadership, including the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the last time being during his visit to New Delhi a few weeks back,

The Maoists themselves are in no position to deal with the rising tide of right-wing forces. In addition to dissolving their parallel government, courts and the army, they have also dismantled their last militant force, the Young Communist League a few years back, which would have been an important force to counter the far-right. The party has split twice, recently just a few weeks back. They have drifted away from the classes they claim to represent and more importantly, they haven’t realized the gravity of the situation. If the far-right manages to gain more strength or come to power in the near future, which is not impossible, the Maoists will receive the first blow.

The faster they realize the impending danger, the better will they be prepared to face it. But given the current situation and their attitude towards this issue at hand, it’s unlikely that they will take the necessary steps.

Appeal for solidarity from ASTI workers

We are reproducing the appeal for solidarity by contract workers at ASTI who have been on a hunger strike opposing the conditions of work at the factory of ASTI at Gurgaon. We request all our readers and followers to help –

An appeal by ASTI Theka Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti, Manesar, Gurgaon
3rd December 2014
We the contract workers of ASTI Electronics factory at IMT Manesar, Gurgaon are on Dharna from 3rd November and 7 of us continue fast-unto-death from 25th November with our just demands against contractualisation, illegal lay off, and exploitation.

We had a tripartite meeting with the management and labour department day before and yesterday 2nd December. The management of ASTI continued with their adamant anti-worker attitude, and spoke through the contractors in the meeting. The DLC (Deputy Labour Commissioner) of Gurgaon, J.C. Mann also spoke in the management’s language, and told us off that there is no work so we have been laid off. We did not buy their false arguments and said that most of us have been working in the factory for the last 4-5 years in perennial nature of work in the assembly line. We should rather be made permanent by law and the contract itself is a sham contract. There was no resolution in the tripartite meetings, and the DLC rather than giving us any concrete promise has now passed on the case to the ALC (Asst. Labour Commissioner) Gurgaon.

Anti-social elements instigated by the management have been continuing to harass us, to inform which, a team of workers also met the Police Commissioner Gurgaon yesterday, but no concrete steps have been taken by the police other than forming barricades from the management’s side in front of the factory.

The health of 5 women and 2 male workers on fast-unto-death from 25th November is deteriorating, and ketone body has been found in the blood samples. But the Gurgaon administration has not even sent a single doctor or any medical assistance to the dharna site till date. A team of workers from ASTI Theka Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti also met the DC (Deputy Commissioner) Gurgaon to tell the administration to remind them of their responsibility but to no heed. We shall go to meet the DC Gurgaon again tomorrow 4th December at 11am and we appeal to pro-worker individuals and forces to come in solidarity in the meeting with the DC Gurgaon.

We are enthused to have received solidarity from workers in industrial belt. But at present, we are continuing with our struggle in the face of severe odds of anti-worker management-administration-police nexus. We are faced with a severe financial crisis which is becoming a hurdle in sustaining our struggle. We appeal to all pro-worker forces and individuals to come to our dharna site and also to contribute financially to our struggle.

Please send in your contributions to:
Raghuvendra Pratap
State Bank of India,
Sector 10A, Gurgaon Branch,
Account No. 34189662682
CIF No. 87673860011
Contact for further details: Shivani and Raghuvendra
(ASTI Theka Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti):
09555671885; 9654553194, 9971735073

STATEMENT ON DELHI’S SOLIDARITY DEMONSTRATION WITH FERGUSON/NYC AT THE US EMBASSY

The following statement was issued by a solidarity campaign by students in Delhi with the protestors at Fergusson, USA as written by Vincent Kelley [ link – https://www.facebook.com/vincentkelley/posts/865867286797286] . We applaud them for holding a solidarity rally in front of the US embassy at New Delhi.

After robust support from students and organizations within Jawaharlal Nehru University for the protest march on the 29th November in solidarity with the Ferguson uprisings, we, along with JNUSU, called for a demonstration today at the US embassy. From the very outset, it was evident where the allegiances of the police lay. They stopped us three times despite us having informed them of our protest beforehand; first, at R K Puram, Sector 6, where they had us wait forty-five minutes to “speak to the authorities” from the police station near the embassy. After much heated negotiation and an all-out show of outrage by protestors, they relented and said that we could proceed to a school (of all the places) half a kilometer away from the embassy, provided we agree to be escorted by them. This was when their escort vehicle tried to misdirect our bus away from the embassy to Jantar Mantar, which is a “safe spot” to dump all protests in, away from the ivory-towers of power and privilege.
We stopped on the Ring Road before Africa Avenue and blocked traffic on that side for about ten minutes, after whch the police once again conceded ground and allowed us passage towards the embassy. Soon after, we reached a bigger contingent of the police at the Chanakyapuri bridge near Leela Hotel, which tried its best to dissuade us once again from moving towards the embassy. This time they threatened us with detention, while a truck bearing a water-canon was already lurking behind our bus. After more negotiations, and consistent pressure-building by slogans, we pushed forward our final ride to Carmel Convent School near the embassy.
The police were ready in their riot-gear, brandishing lathis, and the water-canon was still behind us. Upon reaching, they barricaded the road before the school that led to the embassy. We continued chanting there, and all of us had a sit-in, as the police hovered in anticipation. American as well as Indian students spoke on the rampant militarization and white-supremacy in the US, as well as revitalized casteism and racism in the Indian context, which are connected and fed by the same neoliberal enterprise between the ruling classes of both countries.
As the US hegemony crumbles, the forceful arm of the USA operates – not just domestically in incidents such as Ferguson – but also through the police of its allied states in an effort to retain the semblance of authority. The last time we saw this was during the Indian state’s shameless silence – even ideological connivance – in Israel’s offensive on Gaza earlier this year.
We salute the resilience of those who came out and the spirit of international solidarity which we find ourselves enriched from. We will strive to forge ever greater unity in our global struggle for collective liberation.
Inquilaab Zindabaad!! We are unstoppable!! Another world is possible!!

FULL SUPPORT TO THE CONTRACT WORKERS STRIKE OF BSNL

SUPPORT THE STRIKE OF CONTRACT WORKERS ! FULL SUPPORT TO CONTRACT WORKERS OF BSNL !

On the 27th of November, the contract workers union of BSNL are taking a most important and necessary step. On this day nearly one lakh contract workers employed in BSNL are going on strike across India. It is a united strike action by all workers around eleven key demands crucial for the contract workers.

1) Regularisation of left out casual and contract workers.
2) Casual labor wage to be the same as the lowest wage of BSNL instead of DOT.
3) Minimum Wage as per Government Orders to be implemented for the contract workers, including higher wages for semi-skilled, skilled and highly skilled as per A, B, and C cities.
4) Wages must be paid through cheque/account in time. Even if contractor changes, the same workers should continue.
5) Implementation of Social Security measures like EPF, ESI, and Gratuity, Bonus.
6) HRA quarters to be allotted to contract workers.
7) EPF account to be opened by Principal Employer instead of contractor.
8) Issue ID cards by BSNL management.
9) Equal pay for Equal work for contract workers.
10) Vacate Victimisation – Reinstate all retrenched workers.
11) Recognize BSNL Casual Contract Workers Federation.

Nature of contract work and nature of exploitation.

The contract workers while employed by BSNL, are paid by the contractors. The contractor effectively acts like a seller of labor force, and the company its buyer. Because of this, the company management always tries to pass the buck on to the contractors, and the contractors themselves show now responsibility towards their workers. The Abolition of Contract labor act stipulates certain facilities and duties that the contractor must provide for the workers, chief among these are ensuring due payment of ESI, Provident Fund and payment of minimum wage. More often than not, they don’t honor any of these commitments. On the contrary, we have seen cases, where workers haven’t even gotten their pay for periods of 4-5 months and when this payment is given, it is done in a most irregular manner. This is despite a company directive, that the workers must be paid via cheque or through deposit in their account.

Duality of responsibility b/w company and contractors. Company management blaming contractors, contractors blaming company management.

When these irregularities are reported to the company, the company feigns responsibility by saying it is not their duty. This is far from the truth ! Being the company which employs the workers, BSNL is the main employer for the contract workers and it is their responsibility to ensure that the workers get adequate pay and decent working conditions. Likewise, the contractors pretend that all matters pertaining to labor rights is out of their hands, even when the law stipulates that they must observe due payment of wages and give facilities for workers to help in their work. Neither the contractor nor the management has any regard for the contract worker and his rights. We cannot and must not let the contractor go scott free with their wrong doings, but nor must we lose sight of the bigger picture in which the management becomes the main enemy.

Who is the main enemy ?

While the contractor may present himself as the immediate enemy, the truth is that he is only a small part of a much bigger system in which the main enemy are those that decide the company policy. We must fight at three levels. The first level faces the immediate enemy, that is the contractor. Every time, that the contractor fails his duties to the workers, or commits any act which is illegal (like non-payment of wages) the union and the organization must take it up with the management and demand the same of the management and report the contractor for his illegal act. On the second level we fight against the company’s local management, against whom we can demand immediate measures dealing with local conditions. At the third level, we fight against the very top management and in turn, the capitalist government itself, and demand changes in policy for the betterment of the condition of workers and changes in law to ensure decent working conditions and ultimately, for the abolition of the contract labor system.

This third enemy, is our main enemy and it is not just our enemy but of the whole working class of India. Even while fighting at the local and state levels, we are ultimately building up to the fight at the national level. In this, we must build unity amongst ourselves and between ourselves and the workers of India.

The need for unity and organization. Unity between all contract workers and unity between contract and permanent workers.

However, none of this can be achieved without the strength of a strong, militant and united organization of the workers. This step has been taken by the formation of the BSNLCCWF, but we cannot simply take it for granted. The organization must be strengthened by the constant vigilance and active participation of the workers in it. The organization in turn must function as an organization of the workers, taking the rank and file into trust in every decision it makes. The hallmark of a militant workers organization, is its steadfast commitment to the interests of the workers and fearlessness in defending and furthering it.

While we are building our own organization in BSNL, we must not be ignorant of the larger picture. The curse of contractorization affects not just us, but the whole working class of the country. By uniting our struggle with the struggle of all contract workers, and even non-contract workers, we will not only be strengthening our own struggle, but also furthering that of the entire working class. Remember, the main enemy is the capitalist class and its government.

Revolution in Burkina faso

Reposted from litci.org/en

Written by Jose Moreno Pau

Before the announcement of the amendment of the constitution by President Blaise Compaoré, by which he intended to stand for re-election next year (and certainly win), the Burkinabe angry masses took to the streets.

Tens of thousands of people protested since Tuesday 28 October, erected barricades and stormed the parliament. The revolution ignited in the capital Ouagadougou and in major cities. After an attempt to maintain power and repress protesters declaring a state of siege, Blaise Compaoré had to resign.

Campaoré’s government at the service of France and imperialism

Blaise Compaoré stayed 27 years in power after a coup d’etat against the man who had been his friend, known as the African Che Guevara, Thomas Sankara, who was killed.

Blaise Compaoré seized power in 1987 with the support of France and reversed all the progressive measures of Sankara. He returned the nationalized lands back into the hands of the landlords. He became a faithful disciple of the policies of the IMF and of loans from the World Bank. He reopened the country to the French troops who since then have in Burkina Faso a privileged basis for control of the region. As well as the U.S., whose military deployed in Burkina Faso after the creation of the AFRICOM (U.S. Africa Command). The French and American military presence with their European partners in this country and in the neighbor Senegal have served for the invasion of Mali and to consolidate the control over the natural resources of these countries.

In recent years, the economic indicators exhibited a year growth of 9% (6.5% in 2013). This growth has been due to gold mining, whose share in GDP is 20% and cotton cultivation. However, this growth has not benefited the population; Burkina Faso has 17.5 million inhabitants and is one of the world’s poorest countries (181 of 187). 3 million Burkinabe migrants live in neighboring Ivory Coast. Literacy does not reach 30%. This situation is in direct relationship with the policy of the deposed President Blaise Compaoré.

Blaise Compaoré handed the gold mines to Canadian, Australian, South African, U.S. and Russian companies. Gold mining has put Burkina Faso as African fifth largest exporter of this precious mineral. The 32 tons of gold exports produces an income of only € 287 million in taxes or the country and just 5,000 jobs. Mining operations have performed environmental tragedies causing tremendous pollution and deaths of people and animals.

The other big multinational business in Burkina Faso is cotton cultivation. Monsanto signed an agreement with the government to introduce the cultivation of GM cotton. Three companies control all agricultural land and impose to farmers the purchase of their cotton.

Vacuum power and military’s role

The news that Compaoré was no longer in office filled with joy the tens of thousands of protesters. The chief of staff of the armed forces, General Honore Traoré assumed power, dissolved parliament, and said he would begin a democratic transition for the year ahead. The masses remained mobilized seeing in general Traoré a continuation of the regime.

General Traoré intends to keep power in the hands of the Army. Although one of the last proposals of former President Compaoré was to call elections in three months, General Traoré speaks of a year transition.

A few hours later the fall of Compaoré, Lieutenant Colonel Zida also proclaimed himself president. Zida, who was number two of Compaoré’s personal guard, tried to detach from the former president and claimed to be part of the people and the martyrs who rose up against his boss.

The army seemed to have finally backed the latter; however tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets again, after the call of the civilian opposition, demanding the fall of Zida as well.

The Black Spring has achieved great success

The demonstrations targeted the attempt of Campaoré perpetuation in power by means of the re-election amendment. This democratic demand sparked from the misery in which the population find themselves, due to submission to imperialism. Despite the military dictatorship serves the interests of the imperialist powers and their multinationals, spokesmen for the opposition suggest that the army should be part of the political transition. The army split over who should run the country, Traoré or Kouame Lugué, the later a retired former general who is supported by opposition sectors.

The revolutions that began in North Africa, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have reached the heart of the continent. It is important that the African masses learn what happened in Egypt, where the regime managed to survive thanks to the Army, which has continued in power and has kept the country submitted to the U.S.

Africa in fire

2 years ago the president of Senegal was overthrown by mass mobilization. But the new president, Macky Sall, continued at the service of imperialism and its international treaties. Indeed, he threw Senegal back to its former French metropolis.

In South Africa the working class is showing their strength with historic strikes and raising the need to build up independent organizations to achieve their ends.

The Burkinabe revolution meanwhile faces a regime which is product of a coup and attacks the institutions that used to endorse it, as the Parliament, and states clearly that do not want the military in power.

Breaking with imperialism, for the African unity

Toppling presidents and their cliques, who have been perpetuated in the governments of their countries for decades, protected and encouraged by the colonial powers, is the first step to achieve true independence.

And the people of Burkina Faso and the rest of Africa do not start from scratch. A few decades ago they have fought for independence and in recent years have experienced significant revolutionary processes. Recovering the legacy, with its successes and failures, of the great African leaders like Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral and Thomas Sankara, will be essential to build the revolutionary parties that the masses need to break the chains of their people.

To escape poverty African countries need to break with imperialism and its treaties. The imperialist troops must be expelled and is necessary to build a common front for the no payment of the foreign debt, which is the mechanism by which imperialism impose the neoliberal policies on their governments. The African countries need to recover their wealth and make them available to their people and stop a handful of multinationals from continuously profiting from their exploration.

The Burkinabe soldiers will face a dilemma: either they follow the orders of the generals who want to maintain Burkina Faso prostrated, but with a new face in office, or refuse to suppress the people and workers, who are those that have to govern.

The Burkinabe masses are still fighting and showing their determination not to accept new military dictatorships.

Statement on the riots at Trilokpuri New Delhi

Below we reproduce the PADS (People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism) statement on the recent communal riots in East Delhi’s Trilokpuri.

STATEMENT ON THE RECENT COMMUNAL DISTURBANCES IN TRILOKPURI
BY
PEOPLE’S ALLIANCE FOR DEMOCRACY AND SECULARISM

NOVEMBER 2, 2014
(Members of P.A.D.S. have been interacting with and visiting residents of Trilokpuri ever since the communal disturbances started on Oct 23. Along with many other citizens they are involved in efforts to re-establish peace and in providing legal aid to those wrongfully arrested. This statement is based on their experiences.)

The inhabitants of Trilokpuri, a densely populated neighbourhood of working people in Delhi, went through a harrowing week after Diwali night on 23 October. A brawl around two places of worship turned into a full scale communal clash. Armed mobs from outside the locality are reported to have joined the rioting that involved brick throwing. Firearms were also used and two boys suffered critical bullet injuries. Inhabitants are emphatic that the police fired into the crowd. The police first denied firing at all. Its latest claim is that it fired only in self defense. One apparel show room owned by a Muslim resident was gutted. Police intervened in force only two days after the clashes started. It turned the neighbourhood into an occupied war-zone. More than fifty men and minor boys were arrested randomly, many picked up forcibly from their houses amid verbal abuse and physical violence. Road intersections were barricaded and entry and exit points were closely monitored. Drones were used in surveillance and houses systematically searched. Essential supplies were in short supply. Daily wage earners, contract workers, and self employed who could not go out lost their source of livelihood. Seriously wounded and ill had no access to medical aid. While the entire neighbourhood suffered in one form or another, inhabitants of three blocks in particular, nos 15, 27 and 28, and attached jhuggi clusters, mainly occupied by citizens who are Muslims bore the brunt of police action.

All this happened at a distance of less than ten kilometers as the crow flies from the center of state power in India’s capital. National elections five months ago were won by Mr Narendra Modi who projected a ‘strong man’ image and promised that he would provide ‘achhe din’ of decisive and effective governance. In reality, the face of the Indian state in Trilokpuri these days is ugly. First, institutions of the state, its police, bureaucracy, and all political parties associated with it failed to prevent a localised scuffle from flaring into a violent riot. And second, when the state did show up, only its authoritarian jack boots were seen on the ground. It further terrorised people already battered by rioting and public violence. It did not taken any steps to initiate dialogue between affected communities, and provided no relief or medical aid. Its social institutions like schools, anganwadis, health centers, or the police organised peace committee, etc. simply collapsed. Three fourths of the arrested people are Muslim citizens. Some of them are migrant workers. Arrested people were abused and beaten up while in police lock up. Many of them had visible injuries when presented in front of a Magistrate in the Karkardooma court on 27th October. They were not provided any medical aid or food for nearly two days.

The Trilokpuri neighbourhood has a traumatic past. It was established in the mid seventies of the last century during Emergency. It is a so-called resettlement colony, in which people forcibly displaced from inner city were settled and given land titles. The displacement and settlement process was often violent. Mr Jagmohan, the top administrator of Delhi and a close confidant of Mr Sanjay Gandhi then, later Governor of Jammu and Kashmir during insurgency there and a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, was the chief persona in the entire process. The most gruesome massacres of Sikh citizens in Delhi in 1984 took place in Trilokpuri and neighbouring Kalyanpuri.

Despite the fast economic growth and massive urbanization in the past two decades in India, settlement patterns in cities continue to be segregated by religion. Most of Trilokpuri is inhabited by Balmikis, a scheduled caste, classified as untouchables in the orthodox Hindu varna order. After the Sikhs migrated out, Muslims are the other community, who are concentrated mainly to three out of thirty blocks. Recent migrants in search of work form a significant part of the population. They are also settling along community lines. The twenty five square yard plots originally alloted have now risen to three-four storey pucca structures, providing a decent rental income to original owners. There are also occasional cars parked in narrow streets. The little prosperity that has trickled into this neighbourhood has however not brought secure peace. Residents often complain of brawls and other forms of every day violence. The area reportedly also suffers from petty crime syndicates operating under police protection. Nevertheless, for thirty years since 1984, the neighbourhood escaped communal violence. Even the weeks following demolition of Babri mosque in 1992 passed peacefully.

Recent events in Trilokpuri reveal the character of Indian society and state that do not portend well at all. All experiments in Fascism, that involved selective violence against minorities to consolidate a nation, have relied upon mass support. The India of 2014 can not be said to be impervious to such schemes. The political success of Mr Narendra Modi at the national level has emboldened the Hindutva targeting of religious minorities and aggressive mobilisation around sectarian demands.

The ex-MLA from the BJP is reported to be part of the communal organising in Trilokpuri. Communal polarisation is proving to be a successful electoral strategy for the BJP. It is exploiting economic, political, gender and caste anxieties in a fast changing society which has not developed a strong popular democratic consciousness. The tragedy of politics at the moment in India is that none of the competitors of the BJP have a clue about how to counter its dangerous mix of religion and politics with a leader enjoying mass support. The Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi had succeeded in getting the support of Muslim and Dalit voters in the last assembly elections and currently holds the Trilokpuri seat, but it is afraid to come out publicly against communal violence lest it disturbs its electoral calculations. Congress is in severe decline and absent from the scene. No mainstream political party in India has had the wisdom and ideological clarity to realise that treating society in terms of the majority- minority framework actually validates communal agenda, and that the counter to communalisation of politics is an unequivocal assertion of citizenship rights of every one.

It is also obvious that the Indian state, while seemingly democratic in some aspects, is also undemocratic in some fundamental ways. It does not consider the protection of democratic rights of its citizens as its prime responsibility. It regularly attacks rights of the poor and socially marginal, which at present also include religious minorities. Indian state still follows the colonial authoritarian policy of treating moments of deep social strife like riots as a ‘law and order’ issue, and its first action is to enforce its brutal authority over people, rather than help the victims. Further, over time the Indian state institutions have been communalised. None of the victims of communal riots in India, including the most gruesome ones, of 1984 in Delhi, 1992-3 in Mumbai and 2002 in Gujarat have received justice. Commission after commission on riots in India have found the police and administration to be authoritarian and partisan. Yet, if nothing has changed, there obviously are powerful social and political forces that wish to use this character of Indian state for their own ends.

The social ideological environment of neoliberalism has encouraged religiosity and public assertion of religious identities, while weakening mass based mobilisations against oppression and exploitation. This is happening in all communities. Right wing political forces claiming to represent specific religious communities are using the opportunity to develop new kinds of aggressive religious practices that lead to social strife and communalise the society. This is a new challenge which democratic and secular forces have to contend with. Barring a few exceptions, the media in the capital has played a partisan role during recent developments in Trilokpuri. English language newspapers and TV channels that cater essentially to consumerist aspirations of urban propertied and professionals have spread the police version of rioting, which blames Muslim residents of the neighbourhood. They are more interested in sustaining a consumerist utopia unencumbered by social disturbances, rather showing the sufferings of the marginal and the physical abuse of people arrested by the police. Many residents of Trilokpuri work as maids, drivers, security guards and provide other services to the upper middle class residents of neighbouring Mayur Vihar. Yet life in the latter went on as usual.

P.A.D.S. appeals to the citizens of Delhi to disregard aggressive sectarian demands, provocations and rumours by communal forces and defeat their plans to communalise society. Secularism of the state and society is necessary for everyone, believers of different religions and non-believers, to lead a peaceful life without discrimination and persecution. Before succumbing to calls for their so-called ‘community’ interests all citizens should ponder over what kind of society they wish to live in. The one based on hatred and violence, or the one which respects citizenship rights of everyone.

We appeal to the working people of the city, who constitute the overwhelming majority of its population, to organise and fight together against their economic exploitation, caste oppression, price rise, police extortion, and deplorable condition of public services like hospitals, schools, and transport, rather than against each other.

Long term policy changes are needed to ensure that events like Trilokpuri do not occur anywhere else in the country. People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism demands following from Delhi state administration.

1. All administrative and police officials who failed in their duty to prevent rioting, made random and wrongful arrests, and physically abused citizens should be punished.
2. All residents who suffered physical injury, mental trauma, wrongful arrest and loss of property during riots and subsequent police occupation of the neighbourhood should be adequately compensated.
3. All citizens arrested should be granted immediate bail, and cases against them settled expeditiously so that they and their families can lead a normal life as soon as possible.
4. A judicial commission of inquiry should be constituted immediately to find out culpability of state administration, and of the political leadership of any party in fanning the communal violence.
5. Immediate relief should be provided to all residents who have lost livelihood. Medical aid should be given to the injured.
6. The ‘official’ peace committee established by the police has proved completely ineffective. It should be revamped and representatives of the organisations working in the area should be included in it. Its meetings should be held regularly and publicly.

7. Many areas in Delhi are potential flash points for communal violence. There are many reports of aggressive sectarian demands made by ‘panchayats’ and ‘mahapanchayats’. All those making illegal demands and spreading false propaganda about others should be dealt with firmly, so that citizens of other parts of the city do not suffer what Trilokpuri residents are going through.

Analysis of China’s class character

On the significance of the Chinese Question today: What is at stake for the Asian and world proletariat

Since the destinies of China and India are inseparable, the lives of one third of humanity are at stake – (World 6,800,000,000, China 1,350,000,000, India-Pakistan-Bangladesh 1,500,000,000). Since an outcome of either socialism or barbarism is becoming a clearer and clearer probability in this epoch of wars, revolutions, and the transition to socialism, not only is the future of hundreds of millions of Asian workers, peasants, rural labourers and poor people at stake, but the future of the whole of humanity.
If India and China develop into imperialist superpowers, their struggles with the current imperialist superpowers will tear the world apart. And the working classes and the poor will be sacrificed as cannon fodder.

The relationship between China and India is central to the political and economic development of Asia, and to the unfolding of the class war in Asia. And in this relationship a central factor is where the classes stand in relation to their states. Do they have the same relationship? Is the relationship qualitatively different? If so, how and why? If so, what are the consequences of this?
The answer to these questions can only be found with the help of a correct analysis of the class character of the two countries.

For the working class this characterization is not an academic question. Our epoch poses the question of the working class taking power. Leading the working class to power is the most important task of the most conscious revolutionary workers and their allies. And for Bolshevik-Leninists the central question here is what kind of revolution do we need to lead? A social revolution, or a political one? These tasks are fundamentally distinct. Spearheading the “wrong” revolution will lead to errors which might in turn lead to disaster. And one such disaster could involve the question of war between China and India.

Where do we stand on this question, as a leadership representing the deepest historical needs and potential of the working class? What will our handling of this question tell the working class in the rest of the world about our ability to see these needs and understand this potential, and lead them to power so they can begin to build socialism?
Dealing with these questions in a theoretically correct fashion and drawing useful practical conclusions from this may well be the greatest challenge facing the world working class today.

What arguments are there?

The main arguments for restoration are the percentage of GDP in private hands, and the dismantling of the monopoly of foreign trade. These need to be taken very seriously, as Trotsky used these factors as important criteria for characterizing the USSR as a workers state despite the political degeneration that gave rise to a bloody and counter-revolutionary regime. But taking them seriously requires serious demonstration that appearance and reality match, and not just one or two statistics affirming restoration as a foregone conclusion. There are hard-hitting arguments that maintain that appearance and reality don’t match here. And since the question of restoration or not, of the class character of the Chinese state, is so important, then the relationship between appearance and reality needs to be worked out in the same kind of thorough discussion as there was regarding China in 1949.
Some of the arguments against restoration follow Trotsky. These include refusing to take even the most horrifying violations of human integrity and dignity, or the setting aside of fundamental rights of expression and assembly as proof of capitalist restoration. They are proofs of degeneracy into a counter-revolutionary regime. In the case of China and other countries traditionally viewed as Deformed Workers States by Trotskyists, they are proofs of the initial deformation and its further degeneration. A counter-revolutionary regime is, as Trotsky writes, the black shadow of imperialism, and the greater the pressure from a world economy dominated by a desperate dying capitalism, the darker the shadow. Which means no Trotskyist should feel obliged to reject the scientific diagnosis of a non-capitalist mode of production by sentimental impressionistic reactions to the horrors of murderous repression and policies generating famine, extreme poverty, glaring inequality, and international political disaster. All these things are essential characteristics of political degeneration and deformity, not of a mode of production. All modes of production (types of state) can have a whole spectrum of regimes in government, from the most benign to the most repulsively tyrannical.
Further arguments raise the question of political differences in Chinese society that are suppressed and censored out of public debate. Trotsky discusses the antagonisms in Soviet society between different layers of workers, peasants (rural producers), managers, and bureaucrats, and demonstrates that these have a profound influence on political developments, even if they are “invisible”. This is especially true of concessions/privileges and repressions/purges.
These “hidden” aspects of Chinese society need much greater study, as the bureaucracy is huge and much more clearly layered than the Soviet bureaucracy was. Its various sectors – high, middle, low, national, regional, and local, with their corresponding ties to the military and the militia – need to be delineated and the consequences of antagonisms within the bureaucracy need to be analyzed. As do antagonisms within and between the layers (and now classes) of society as a whole – workers, rural producers, owners and managers of small and medium-sized enterprises, large-scale capitalists, and financial officials. In addition to all this there are the further complications of relations with Hong Kong, Taiwan, and foreign relations.
One argument that needs to be worked through thoroughly concerns the reasons for and the consequences of the marked differences in adapting the bureaucracy to the policy zigzags so typical of Stalinist regimes. Why have the Chinese managed to avoid the horrifying mass brutality of Stalin’s purges? How have they managed to renew bureaucracy, which is by its nature rigid, backward-looking, self-interested, devoid of perspective and opposed to any change?
The processes of adaptation have been studied to some extent, but the differences in bureaucratic development between the USSR, China, and India, for example, are little studied.
An important element in the economic situation mentioned above is that of real ownership and control – where is proprietorial power located. Various studies have indicated that ownership of shares and executive positions in enterprises need not reflect real power of ownership. And an abstract consideration of GDP needs to be broken down into its component parts if we are to get a clear view of state power of ownership in the Chinese economy. Infrastructure, heavy industry, fuel extraction and energy production carry much more weight than production for consumer goods. Where is the centre of gravity of large-scale manufacturing like the automotive industry? What kind of trade is controlled by who? Just what is the balance between the state and private capital in joint ventures? How much clout does foreign capital in the “free zones” have on policy in Chinese society as a whole?
And then there are the hypothetical questions that need to be formulated and answered.
Would China look and act the same today if it was capitalist?
How would the relationships between China, Hong Kong and Taiwan look if China was capitalist? What would relations between China, India, Russia, Japan and the US be like in that case?
The capitulation of the Russian bureaucracy to imperialism was marked by large-scale (if unfocused) uprisings in the whole sphere of Soviet influence, leading to such dramatic events as mass migrations from the GDR, Romania, Hungary etc, and to the summary execution of a dictator of the Old Regime such as Ceaucescu. It was followed by wars and social collapse in the ex-USSR. But the tensions in Chinese society are probably greater than those in the USSR, especially in the all-important economic sphere. Ethnic tensions are near breaking point. There is a huge “invisible” debate in progress within China, of a high quality and extremely hostile to the bureaucratic regime and its repressive policies, even if not revolutionary in a Bolshevik-Leninist sense (yet).
Since this is the case – if the Chinese bureaucracy has already capitulated to imperialism and handed over the (deformed) workers state to capitalism, where are the mass uprisings? Where are the cataclysmic social effects? Where are the mass migrations, the ethnic cleansing of Han Chinese, the internal wars?
Did this great event take place behind closed doors at a party congress? To argue that this is the case is not a Marxist way of approaching historical change, and especially not change involving a large-scale transition from one mode of production to another.

What conclusions can be drawn?

Theoretical

The first point is elementary from the point of view of Marxist political economy, and it’s used emphatically a number of times by Trotsky in the Revolution Betrayed. However, it is almost completely absent from our discussions on China. Trotsky repeatedly argues that the economic progress made by the Soviet Union is completely inexplicable from the standpoint of bourgeois economics. It is completely understandable from the standpoint of Marxist economics. A non-capitalist state based on socialized ownership and centralized planned management has a capacity for developing the forces of production that is unimaginable in bourgeois economies. The situation in the Soviet Union was a thousand times worse than in China, as it was isolated in a powerfully capitalist world economy, with a scattered population and under enormous political and economic pressure. The Chinese situation has been better because of the existence of the Soviet Union, because China has been better able to manage joint ventures and collaboration with capitalists at an advanced level of technique and productivity, because China has a much more highly developed administrative and commercial culture than Russia/the Soviet Union ever had and because world capitalism has continually run into debilitating crises (despite some impressive periods of boom) that have given China breathing space to grow while bourgeois countries stagnate or contract.
Further, the development of post-1949 China fits in with the characterization made by the Left Opposition and formulated theoretically by Preobrazhensky of “primitive socialist accumulation”. With the same advantages as are listed above, and the same disadvantages as in the Soviet Union – low productivity, especially in agriculture, low levels of general culture, commodity famine (exacerbated by anti-worker and anti-peasant priorities), waste, mismanagement, and ignorance of socialist economic fundamentals.
If this assumption that China, however deformed, is a workers state, should not to be the case, then it is imperative for those arguing that it is now a capitalist state to demonstrate why its economic development has been so qualitatively different from that of Brazil, India and post-1990 Russia – countries with the closest resemblance to China.
A second point fundamental to Bolshevik-Leninist theory is the character of the revolution needed to oust the counter-revolutionary ruling class/caste. Given the experience of 1990, it seems clear that the lack of a political revolution was the key factor permitting a successful handing over of the Soviet economy to imperialism. But it also seems clear that the degeneration of working class organization and leadership required a good proportion of preparatory work taking in aspects of social revolution. It is quite likely that this is even more the case in China, given the extreme extent to which capitalism has been permitted to make inroads into the Chinese economy. The body of China is being eaten away by the gangrene of bureaucratic centralism and the cancer of bourgeois relations of production.
The main perspective for revolution in China should still be a political revolution, but with a heavy dose of social revolution.
A third point is international. We have to understand how the collapse of the Soviet Union affected Chinese development – the conditions under which it was able to pursue its economic and social policies. And we also have to understand how the new world constellation post-1990 has affected India and China and their reciprocal relations. And we have to understand how the Chinese and Indian proletariats should work with each other to free their own countries both nationally and jointly from the imperialist yoke.
This leads to the issue of war, which is perhaps more of a practical policy question.
A more general point concerns the economic mechanisms behind the massive forced migrations from the countryside into the slums of vast new conurbations. Bourgeois theory refers to this phenomenon as “urbanization”, whereas we need to understand it from the perspective of a merciless proletarianization of poor peasants and rural laborers. If we can understand this theoretically it will ease our work of connecting the rural and urban revolutionary movements. 
Practical
The transitional demands of our agitation and the focus of our propaganda are completely dependent on our analysis and understanding of the class character of the societies within which we work. And the synthesis we can produce to guide the international advanced guard of the working class is completely dependent on the success with which we tackle our national tasks.
In relation to China and India the practical differences in our approach to the urban industrial proletariat and poor masses will be massive if China is demonstrated to be a deformed workers state and India a bourgeois state taking on a more and more independent and confident political and economic role in the world. In China it is a question of restoring abandoned protosocialist measures and removing a counter-revolutionary bureaucracy to make way for a state managed and planned on the principles of workers democracy. In India there is none of this – no protosocialist measures to be restored, and no “mere” change of regime standing in the way of creating a workers state run on the principles of workers democracy.
In the extreme case of war this will lead to diametrically opposed policies being adopted by the Chinese and Indian revolutionaries respectively – in China defencism, fighting to defend the workers state, however deformed, and in India defeatism, fighting to fell a bourgeois state and replace it with a workers state. And any practical collaboration between the Chinese and Indian working classes will have to take this huge difference into account – and it can only do this if we are able to show how and why to do it.
In relation to the proletarianization of the rural masses our practical policies must explain the economic forces at work, and the fundamental enemy responsible, and we must use the living links between town and countryside in our work in the way Lenin did in the late 1800s in his work on the agrarian question. The fulcrum of organizational unity between town and country was provided by the “peasant-workers” recently forced into the cities to find work, but still rooted in the countryside by culture, family ties, social relations, etc. And again we have to take into account the fundamental differences in the mechanisms at work in China and India in terms of the class character of the state.

Concluding historical reflection

   There is very important historical evidence a) for the existence of a new and qualitatively superior mode of production, and a new era of transition to socialism, and b) for the conviction we should have that history is moving irresistibly in our direction. But it is almost impossible to quantify with statistics. On the other hand, it is in front of our noses, and only needs to be pointed to. The logic of demonstration. (Hegel distinguished between formal logic – operations that affected form but not content (A=A), dialectical logic – operations that could affect the content being considered (A is sometimes equal to A, and sometimes not equal to A), and epideictic logic (the logic of demonstration, pointing, axioms) – operations that involve singling out fundamental starting points for other logical operations (this is A).     
The evidence we can point to concerns the effects of the October Revolution on the self-perception of Russia. And today it is corroborated by the inverse of October, the abolition in 1990 of the workers state set up in 1917.     
Tsarism was consigned to the cesspool of history in 1917. After 3 years of terrible invasions and civil war the Soviet Union emerged into a semblance of peace and could begin to construct society and the economy.     
What memories lingered of the Tsarist regime after these cataclysmic events? What nostalgia for the Old Regime? Absolutely NONE. And not even during the most terrifying excesses of Stalinist repression was there any call at all for Tsarism to return.    
Fast forward to 1990. Capitalism was restored and a bourgeois regime promising freedom, democracy and prosperity came to rule.     
Did it wipe out the memory of the Soviet state? Did it wipe out nostalgia for the Old Regime. NO, absolutely NOT. And this is still the case after TWENTY YEARS of the new dispensation.     
This is evidence we can point to to justify our axiom that any workers state (no matter how degenerate) is qualitatively superior to any bourgeois state (no matter how smoothly functioning).     
The winds of history – ie the development of the forces of production and the necessity of qualitatively new relations of production – are blowing WITH us, and AGAINST capitalism. And they’re blowing very very hard. 3 years, and a whole epoch is wiped out in the minds of the masses. 20 years, and a whole epoch is still alive in the minds of the masses. That’s a qualitative difference.     
In China a corresponding process has been witnessed twice. The first time in 1911, when the imperial regime was swept away, with the same effect on mass consciousness as 1917 in Russia. And in 1949, when the chaotic and murderous bourgeois regime of Chiang Kai Shek and the warlords was swept away. And the effects were the same!! Despite the existence of festering spears in China’s flanks in the shape of Taiwan and Hong Kong.     
But there has been no 1990 yet! If there had been a turning point like 1990 in China, it would have had the same historical impact in China on the consciousness of the masses as 1990 had in Russia. That is – in 1988 there was little nostalgia in the consciousness of the Soviet masses for the Soviet system. This arose after the restoration. The consciousness of the Chinese masses today resembles more 1988 than 2010.     
Further, the strength of the wind in our favour explains the extreme and desperate efforts being made by the imperialist bourgeoisie to maintain its ideological and material control of the masses worldwide – the only way it can remain in power is by an unprecedented combination of lies and repression. Unprecedented in scale and unprecedented in penetration.     
Even revolutionary forces are misled by this storm of propaganda invading our minds and fail to take into account the historical power of oppressed classes fighting for emancipation. But this is power that must be factored into our perspectives. Not in the form of voluntaristic optimism, but as sober, scientific fact.