On the General strike of 2nd September 2015

Background of current strike  –

In May 2014, the general elections brought the right wing BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party/Indian people’s party) led coalition to power. The previous government was not defeated because of a defeat of struggles, it was not reaction that brought down a supposedly progressive government, but public anger at the relentless attacks on the working poor. Rampant inflation, privatization, increased contractorization and casualization of labor, increased exploitation, land grabbing, deprivation, corruption, all reached their zenith under the previous administration, as did the people’s anger at it.

Modi came to power promising “Achhe din” (Good days), it was hoped that corruption, inflation, unemployment, and exploitation would end. Those who voted for the BJP, voted with the hope that the new government would at least lessen the suffering they endured in the past regime, but more importantly, to vent out their anger and choosing to punish the last government for following pro-capitalist policies.

It has been 16 months since the Modi regime came into power, in this time, the one thing it has proved more than anything else, is that it is in every way just as bad and in some ways worse than the preceding government. This government has been more brazenly pro-capitalist, more reactionary in its attacks on democratic values (like secularism and gender equality), and just as hopeless in its ability to provide for the masses. If Modi  and the BJP has proven one thing it is that in India’s so-called democracy, democracy stops dead the moment the ruling party wins the elections.

Within a short while of coming to power, three very noticeable changes happened in India. The first change, was that there was an increase in communalism (religion-based politics), with riots and communal polarization on religious lines happening throughout the country. Discrimination against Muslims and other non-Hindu minorities was bad enough earlier, but grew much worse under the BJP and this too in a very short span of time ! It has barely been a year since the BJP came to power and Modi became Prime Minister and communal (Hindu-Muslim) violence has increased exponentially !

The second change, was that in a very brief time, a slurry of anti-peasant enactments were attempted. Most notably, the Land Ordinance which sought to reverse the Land Act and all the safeguards conceded to the peasantry by the previous government. Of course, these concessions were achieved through relentless struggle forcing the government to amend the original Land Acquisition Act which was formulated in colonial times.

The third change, which has also caused much agitation in recent months, was an accumulation of anti-worker legislation which sought to increase work hours, take away welfarist concessions and give employers unprecedented power over their employees. It is these anti-worker enactments, which are now being protested in the general strike of 2nd September. Nearly all central trade union federations  and their affiliated bodies have backed the strike call. At the very last moment however, the right wing affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (Indian worker’s association) walked out of the strike action.

The Indian bourgeoisie was euphoric about the coming of the new Modi government, they celebrated Modi and his unabashedly exploitative pro-capitalist model in Gujarat, today the bourgeoisie is beginning to bewail the ‘lost sheen’ of the Modi government.

Demands raised –

The leading union federations at their national conference in July agreed on a 12 point charter of demands and a strategy for building the general strike. The 12 points in the charter are –

1. Urgent measures for containing price-rise through universalization of the public distribution system and a ban on speculative trading in the commodity market.

2. Containing unemployment through concrete measures for employment generation.

3. Strict enforcement of all basic labour laws without any exceptions or exemptions and stringent punitive measures for any violations of labour laws.

4. Universal social security cover for all workers.

5. Minimum wages of not less than Rs. 15,000/- per month with indexation.

6. Assured enhanced pension not less than Rs. 3000/- p.m. for the entire working population.

7. Stopping disinvestment in Central/State PSUs.

8. Stopping contractorization of permanent perennial work and payment of the same wages and benefits for contract workers as regular workers for the same and similar work.

9. Removal of all ceilings on payment and eligibility for bonuses or provident funds.

10. Compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days from the date of submitting applications; and immediate ratification of ILO Conventions C 87 and C 98.

11. Against Labour Law Amendments.

12. Against FDI in Railways, Insurance and Defence.

What stands out in this charter, is that the demands this time around are more radical and transitional in nature than in previous strikes. They can serve as a foundation to further the struggle in a socialist direction and challenge the rule of capital. Beneath all the surface confusion and bureaucratic reformism, the workers are seeking an alternative to the system that exists now and the unions are feeling the pressure of this desire for change.

Of course, such a change will not come from union action alone, that goes without saying. A change in a socialist direction necessarily requires political leadership. This means we must build a revolutionary party able to take the reins in the class struggle and lead the wave of mobilizations towards a socialist change and the abolition of the capitalist system.

Who is participating ? –

Eleven central trade union federations are participating in the strike action. The organization and build up of the strike has been in much the same vein as earlier general strikes last year and the years before. In other words, it was done by bureaucratic means. While mass meetings were held, strike committees at the local level haven’t been formed.

Central Trade Union Federations
Almost all central trade union federations are participating in the strike including unions linked with bourgeois parties. The INTUC for instance, the second largest union is participating in the strike, is linked with the Congress party. CITU and AITUC (with different CP links) as well as other leading leftist trade unions, such as HMS and NTUI are taking a leading role in the organization of the strike.

Initially, the BMS, aligned with the governing party, was supportive of the strike action, but on the 30th of August the union backed out on receiving government assurances of an increase in bonuses and a wage hike. This shows the fickle backstabbing nature of the union and the shallowness of its commitment. This action of the BMS will make government repression of the striking workers much easier now that their own affiliate union isn’t participating.

Public Sector Unions

The public sector is the bastion of regular employment in India. It is the area in which workers have won the greatest concessions. Together all public sector state owned corporations employ almost 20 million workers. While this may be only a small section of the Indian working class, it is a very  powerful one, running industries as vital as rail transport, coal mining and power. They are also the best organized among the workers.

In the last several general strikes the public sector workers have been among the most enthusiastic participants, and this time too, we can expect the same high level of participation.

The public sector has a lot to fight for with this strike action. Since the “liberalization” of the economy, the public sector has come under one vicious attack after another. The bourgeoisie have been busy withering away every gain the working class has won over the six decades since Independence. Nowhere more is this attack more evident than in the treatment of contract workers and of the process of contractorization of the workforce in the public sector. Partial privatizations and the rise of so-called ‘public private partnerships’ have made it even easier to attack the public sector workers.

In the realm of the public sector the fight for improved working conditions goes hand in hand with the fight against privatization and the need to secure welfare.

Port and DockWorkers

Port and dock workers are known for their militant history. They constitute one of the most vital and internationalist sectors of the working class. They have been at the forefront of the sharpest struggles in Indian history, and played a splendid part in the great naval uprising of 1946.

Port workers have suffered from the corporatization of ports which has led to massive job losses and increasingly precarious employment. In the last ten years alone, the number of dock workers has declined from over 100,000 to 60,000.

Contractorization, privatization, impoverishment and marginalization is what the dockers are fighting against and this strike will give them an opportunity to link with the struggles of other transportation workers who have been facing similar problems.

Road Transport Workers

Road transport workers will be participating in the strike. After the very successful countrywide strike of road transport workers on 30th April, when workers from state government enterprises, the private sector and even self employed sections participated, this is already yet another large scale strike action by road transport workers.

The problems facing the road transport workers are not uncommon in other transport sectors. Here too there is contractorization leading to increased exploitation. The pressures of rapidly changing oil prices have caused a domino effect where the burden of costs are being shifted to the road transport workers and they have to bear the disproportionate burden of road taxation and harassing enforcement measures.

Petroleum Workers

Refined Petroleum in India is provided chiefly by state corporations and a handful of private mega-corporations. As such they hold the reins to a key industry. If they go on strike, the most vital source of fuel runs out.

Telecom Workers

Since the corporatization of BSNL arising from the de-merger of Department of Telecom, it has suffered in various ways under successive neo-liberal regimes. To begin with, its sister company MTNL, was privatized and bought out by the giant capitalist Tata group, reversing most safeguards which public sector workers enjoyed. Thereafter, successive managements have overseen the decline of BSNL as the leading telecom company in India. It has been losing out progressively to private companies, mainly Idea mobile, Vodafone, Tata and especially Airtel and Reliance.

Along with corporatization came discrimination. BSNL has always been treated like a foster child by the government which was more than eager to roll the red carpet for the leading private capitalist firms in the telecom sector. The continuance of these attacks on BSNL has resulted in the company declining and becoming a loss-making company. It has suffered from both contractorization of its workforce and massive retrenchments. The number of employees in the company has declined from nearly 600,000 to around 200,000 today of which more than half (almost 100,000) are employed as contract workers.

The contract workers of BSNL who perform a range of tasks from office maintenance to line maintenance are denied most rights which accrue to regular workers, be it minimum wage, fixed working hours, or provident fund payments. A long and brilliant struggle has been waged by contract workers in BSNL which provide a stellar example for other contract workers to follow. Especially good example of struggles are how the fight against the management at BSNL’s Kerala branch was conducted.

Electricity Workers
The National Co-ordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers (NCCOEEE) has been mounting country wide campaigns against the new Electricity Bill, which will in effect sound a death knell for the demands for electricity as a human right. Affordable and quality energy to domestic consumers will come to an end if the new bill is passed. NCCOEEE had decided to go on a countrywide strike if the new Bill is introduced in parliament. Though it was listed, it could not be introduced in the Monsoon Session. Now, the unions have decided to concentrate on the 2nd September strike.

Other vital sectors
Also participating in the strike are defence sector employees and government scheme workers. The workers employed in the defence sector have to deal with governmental restrictions and high-handedness, while scheme workers have suffered the worst sort of discrimination and exploitation.

Anganwadi employment scheme workers who have shown the greatest enthusiasm for participating in the strike are also among the most exploited layer of the workforce. Theirs is a fight for respect and recognition as much as improved conditions.

Potential impact

Among other things, the strike will be potentially crippling to Indian capital. Practically every sector of the Indian economy is affected by the strike and as has been seen before, the scale and sheer numbers of workers involved makes such general strikes a dangerous affair for the bourgeoisie concerned above all else with its profits. The more absolute the strike is, the greater will be its destructive potential against the interests of the capitalists.

As important as the immediate impact of the strike may be, its longer-term subjective impact will be even more significant. This strike will boost the confidence of the working class and it ought to be a learning experience and a preparation for future confrontations. It will also bring together different sections of workers and give an opportunity to further cooperation and coordination among them. Most significantly, it gives an opportunity to bring together different public sector workers and transport workers together.

Preceding the strike action there have been huge mobilizations in Kolkata by peasants’ organizations involving nearly 200,000 participants. Very recently, the peasantry has won an important political victory by defeating the anti-peasant Land Ordinance Bill, forcing the government to let it lapse. The general strike organizers have reached out to the peasantry, and the solidarity emerging from this could have a tremendous long term impact for the future of the class struggle in India.

Lessons of previous strikes

Between 1991 and 2015 there have been nearly 16 general strikes at a rate of nearly one a year. Between 2010 and 2014 there have been 5 such strikes organized and led chiefly by central trade union federations. They were organized around demands which were reformist in nature, but they brought vital questions facing the working class to the fore. The strikes between 2010 and 2013 were among the largest strikes in history mobilizing up to 100 million workers! Whilst these mobilizations showed the strength and enthusiasm of the working class, and served to increase militant consciousness, they failed to extract the concessions that were aimed for. The bourgeoisie recovered rapidly after the initial shocks and brushed off the impact of the strike quite easily returning to business as usual.

The experience of these strikes must be assimilated to prepare for this strike as well as the planned indefinite strike for November 23rd. The objective of the strike after all, is to force the government to withdraw its anti-worker labor law amendments and to bring in much needed changes in the interests of the working class. The class must make the bourgeoisie feel its strength to win its demands, it would be a mistake to expect the enemy to be “reasonable” and compromise with them hoping for them to act in a rational or humane manner. Calls to do so are only traps to keep the working class exploited and perhaps increasing its exploitation. Let us not forget how in colonial times the British used the Round Table Conferences to repeatedly stymie the great mass mobilizations of Indians, and how Gandhi repeatedly swallowed this bait and let entire nation-wide mobilizations fizzle out into nothing. The Indian bourgeoisie uses the same tactics to deceive and pacify the Indian masses in our time.

Need for solidarity

The working class in India is now marching ahead, and it is coming face to face with the machinations of the Indian bourgeois-capitalist state. The Indian working class is huge and powerful, but so is its enemy. The key to success against the Indian bourgeoisie is to win the support of the peasantry and petty bourgeoisie which together are more numerous than the working class in India today. Numbers won’t win this struggle, political energy and good leadership of the masses in India will.

Added to this must be international solidarity. Appeals must be made to trade unions across South Asia, the gulf region and South East Asia to support and align their struggles with those of the Indian working class to concentrate and amplify the energy of the struggles of the workers in this region. Support from workers of every major nation, the US, the UK too must be achieved.

Now is a most critical time in the trajectory of class struggle in India and decisive struggles are about to be waged.

DOWN WITH CAPITALISM ! DOWN WITH MODI !

THE WORKERS UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED !

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Message of solidarity to the metro workers of Sao Paolo Brazil

To metro workers in Sao Paulo Brazil,

The New Wave Bolshevik Leninist, on behalf of the working masses of India greet you. We are a revolutionary organization in India struggling to rebuild the Bolshevik Leninist party in South Asia and the fourth international globally.

We express our solidarity with the strike action which you have decided to take. At the time when the world is watching the developments in Brazil around the Fifa World Cup, your strike action sends a strong message both to the capitalists in Brazil and capitalists worldwide. A message that they cannot take the lives of the working class and poor for granted ! That we won’t be pacified with shows of glory ! That the masses can and will fight for what is our just needs.

In this endeavour, we stand in solidarity with you and all the struggling people of Brazil.

In India too, we have seen the arrogance and intransigence of the capitalists during the Commonwealth games. Billions were squandered in scams and wasted over gaudy construction projects all to make the rich richer while the poor stayed poor. Hundreds of workers even died during the mega construction projects like the stadium in New Delhi where bonded labor was used for construction (despite it being illegal!) but the government turned a blind eye to this reality. That government has been justifiably thrown out of power, but the capitalists remain.

Should you succeed in your struggle, it will be an inspiration for the workers here fighting against capitalists who are just as corrupt, just as ruthless and just as brutal.

Long live international Solidarity !

Long live working class unity !

Understanding the verdict of the 2014 elections

The Indian elections of 2014 were the largest the country has witnessed in its history, with around 816 million voters involved in the process. The elections were divided into 9 phases, making it the longest elections as well. The verdict was given on the 16th of May with the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Narendra Modi winning a singular majority on its own. The NDA (National Democratic Alliance) alliance which it leads garnered 337 seats. Thus, after 25 years we are witnessing a government founded on a solid singular majority.

The verdict however, isn’t as simple as it seems on the surface. While the NDA did win more than 3/5th of the seats in parliament, it won only 33.7% of the total votes polled. The second and third largest parties by vote share would be the Congress with 22% and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) with around 4% of votes . In total, around 45% of votes were scattered among smaller regional and national parties. The regional parties like the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Jayalalitha’s party the AIDMK (All India Dravida Munetra Khazagham) won around 3.6%-3.8% of votes polled. In West Bengal and elsewhere, the Stalinist parties of the Left Front won around 3.2% of votes polled giving its worst ever performance in parliament. However, what this reality reflects is that the system even a small share in votes translates to a huge difference in seats won. Thus, over 65% of the voters who did not vote for the BJP or NDA alliance partners will go unrepresented. This is a telling feature on just how ‘representative’ India’s bourgeois ‘democracy’ is.

The implications of this result will be profound and will affect the country’s working poor as now a party of the bourgeoisie literally has absolute majority in parliament. It can wield enormous power including push forth any kind of parliamentary amendment it would like.

The dynamics of the indian elections :

We had earlier commented that this election gives no option to the working masses of India. On the one hand was the possibility of dynastic rule which would instill a ruthlessly pro-bourgeois rule in parliament, on the other hand was the possibility of a rule by a party under the influence of obscurantist reactionary forces running with a ruthlessly pro-bourgeois and anti-working class government in parliament. Between these two choices there would only be a myst of anarchy.

Till at least 2012, the verdict seemed unclear as to which party could win the elections. After the state elections in five major states, in which the BJP won all but one state election, the tide seemed clearer. The people had had enough of the misrule under the Congress, with constant attacks on the poor, mammoth corruption scams and complete failure to deliver any concrete benefit to the poor. Its promise of dynasty was hardly of any use in endearing the masses to it. As a party of the bourgeoisie, it had failed to appease the interests of any sector of the bourgeoisie to any satisfying degree, its strategy of concession and coercion hardly successful in pacifying the masses’ anger.

To this party of total misrule, the people had two alternatives, broadly speaking. One was the traditional regional parties and their front known as the third front led by the Stalinist coalition called the left front. The other was the new and rising force of the Aam Admi Party, which was forged in the heat of the anti-corruption mobilization which had shaken the foundations of the Congress rule and aroused the petty bourgeois, particularly in Delhi.

As we shall see, neither alternative were any good against the Congress and the people unsurprisingly rejected both.

On the Left Front led third front coalition, the core of this popular front alliance, the Stalinist CPM and CPIM lost in an unprecedented way in West Bengal winning hardly 8 seats. While the main reason would be the almost militarized efficiency with which rigging was conducted by the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) party government, it is also due to the failure of the Stalinists to wage an effective fight against this fascistic violence conducted by the TMC party. This has not only confused and demoralized the people in West Bengal but is having its impact on the party cadre as well. The only state where the CPM is holding out is Tripura which seems to be acting like a mountain refuge for an ailing political force whose future is uncertain.

Of the other regional parties, it is hardly worth mentioning, that they have degenerated a long way since their lohiite roots. They are no longer seen with the halo of a party which fought against the corruption and bonapartist attitudes of the Congress in the 60s and 70s, but as a corrupt bourgeois party no different than that of the Congress. Indeed for all their ‘secular’ posturing the regional bourgeois alternatives like the Samajwadi Party or even the BSP is hardly anything but a party for the enrichment of their respective political leaders. No doubt these parties have been sidelined as well.

In the midst of this sea of corruption and betrayal, the Aam Admi Party (AAP) seemed to stand as a real political alternative of the people. Whatever illusions people had in it, were dashed soon after its formation and meteoric rise. The AAP had recently won the elections in New Delhi and briefly took power, before relinquishing its position due to its failure to push for the appointment of a Lokpal. In course of their tenure in Delhi, they promised a lot and delivered little. Its politics of conciliation with capitalism and combining seemingly opposing social forces in its party (exemplified by its recruitment of millionaire capitalist robber barons like the Vice President of Bajaj along with anti-capitalist social activists like Medha Patkar ) only confused its supporters. Ultimately, neither the urban working class nor the urban elite supported this party. It achieved nothing but to confuse its supporters and detractors alike. After failing in Delhi, the AAP could not recover its credibility a a party of the people, unsurprisingly it hardly garnered more than 2 seats.

With such pathetic alternatives to the Congress party, one would be tempted to think that the BJP won almost by default. It wouldn’t be entirely mistaken to say so. More than anything else the people wanted to overthrow the Congress government, no matter who comes, the Congress must first go. At the same time, with hardly any national alternative in sight, the only party which could guarantee such a verdict would be the BJP. The other big national party of the Indian bourgeoisie. At once we see both a situation of social tension as well as the total lack of class consciousness among the Indian working class and poor.

How the BJP won the elections :

Much before the 2014 election campaign set in, the mood of the people were already turned against the Congress. The first decisive break was the anti-corruption movement in 2011. During the same period, a series of general strikes had been conducted in India mobilizing a historic number of workers across the country. The largest general strike in the world had occurred in February of 2013. In this period, the BJP had been a very peripheral force. Even though it made its presence felt during the anti-corruption movement. It would not have been possible for any bourgeois force to hijack and finish the whole movement if it wasn’t for the conciliatory and reformism approach of the leadership of the movement. However, the seeds of the BJP emerging as a populist force had been sown at that time.

During the elections, money power and propaganda were in full display. Supporting the BJP was large funding by the leading capitalists of india, in particular the Birla family which leads the Birla group of companies which was the leading source of funding for both the Congress and the BJP. In addition to this, was a concerted media campaign which created a personality cult around Modi. The biggest impact of this media campaign was to win over the majority of India’s urban educated middle class who have access to tv and are more prone to media propaganda. Furthermore, the BJP and its linked organization the RSS mobilized a number of their cadre to conduct a massive propaganda on social media. Not to forget is the massive presence of the RSS through its thousands of branches and almost 8 million strong cadre force spread throughout the country. This was the organizational foundations of the BJP’s strength which allowed it to take furthest advantage of the anti-Congress mood in the country.

In the run up to the elections, the BJP had succeeded in mobilizing the RSS cadre and actively promoted a divisive communal agenda focussed around the Muzaffarnagar riots. Modi’s “right hand man” Amit Shah was active in the region playing on communal sentiments of the Jat community and turning them against the muslim community of the region. The riots of Muzaffarnagar were the fruits of a sustained covert propaganda campaign by the RSS in the region. Even so, it would never have been successful if it wasn’t for the inconsistent response of the state led by the supposedly secular Samajwadi Party. Traditionally, communal forces have been tolerated by the liberal bourgeoisie so that they can implement their divide and rule policy. However, in Uttar Pradesh, they seem to have overplayed their hand, for it was not the Samajwadi Party which took advantage of the situation, but the BJP.

Throughout the election they cemented a reactionary consensus emboldened by the developments in Muzaffarnagar. Modi himself seems to have replicated his success in Gujarat, where he successfully cemented his power through the Gujarat riots of 2002, which remain one of the bloodiest riots in India. Throughout the elections, Modi was liberal in the use of hindutva symbols like choosing to campaign in Varanasi, the holiest city of Hinduism. By using symbols which fit into a hindutva schema, he succeeded in galvanizing the support of upper caste reactionary segments of society. This however, explains only the success of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. Elsewhere, he was aided much more by the negative perception of the Congress than anything else.

Thus, through a cleverly constructed campaign strategy, the BJP could win over the urban young middle class as well as the more traditional sectors of the population. This constituted the constructive part of his campaign. The other was the negative/destructive part of the campaign. This involved breaking the opposition of the muslim voters.

First of all, it must be said, that if secularism has died in India, the Congress and other bourgeois parties must be the first to blame. The continuous deprivation and marginalization of the muslim community in India has occurred under the rule of the Congress over 60 years. The regional parties and Stalinists purporting to be secular have no better a record to show. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal show the worst conditions of backwardness among the community in India. In a popular talk show on CNNIBN one muslim citizen from Delhi when asked about whether he fears Modi said “We have nothing to fear from Modi, because in truth the Congress has left muslims with nothing that Modi would take away from us”. This statement summarizes the pathetic conditions of the muslims in India.

When the elections did come, the muslims were just as fed up with the Congress as they were with every other party. The result of this was that their votes ended up being divided among many smaller regional parties. The advantage of this was taken by the BJP having destroyed the idea of a “muslim votebank”. As if this weren’t enough, to cement this the BJP undertook a “muslim outreach” programme which confused sections of the muslim community, whose political consciousness was in any case destroyed by decades of Congress rule and polarity.

Thus, we must conclude that Modi’s victory is in truth the combination of various factors which worked to his advantage. Most important of them, is the failure of working class leadership, which failed to build a political alternative to the bourgeoisie and cement the position of the working class as the leading political force in the country despite having arguably one of the best political opportunity in the history of the country. The energy that was unleashed by the pre-revolutionary period in India, and the mobilizations which occurred, were thus wasted away first by misleaders like the AAP and then by the BJP which used the petty bourgeois rage and discontent to propel itself to an unprecedented position of power.

What are the consequences of Modi’s victory ?

A preview of the future of India may be seen not only in Modi’s Gujarat but in TMC ruled West Bengal as well. Both nationally and worldwide there appears to be a reactionary wave underway. The revolutions in Middle East and North Africa all appear to be fading. Europe after a rise of worker’s struggles too has calmed down, while in the Americas, the forces of counter-revolution are re-emerging with a vengeance.

India too is witnessing a reactionary wave symbolized by Modi’s rise to power, and other reactionary forces like the RSS re-emerging after being dormant for almost a decade. A popular saying goes that “What India thinks tomorrow Bengal thinks today” . This seems to have come true for the worse rather than for the better. The failure of Stalinism is what has resulted in the victory of the TMC in West Bengal today and it was the failure of Stalinism and bourgeois and petty bourgeois alternatives which has resulted in the victory of Modi. Ironically, just like in the case of the TMC the BJP too won a massive majority in these elections. The TMC dominates the seats from West Bengal in the lower house of the parliament having won 31 out of 42 seats.

Yet if West bengal is any indicator, the immediate future will see a period of great chaos and conflict. The TMC when it came to power in the state elections engaged in violently consolidating its political power within the state. It didn’t hesitate in turning on the Maoists who had hitherto acted in helping it fight the Left Front. Neither did it hesitate to turn on the Gorkha National Front which were allies to the TMC till now. Today, West Bengal is in a state of chaos with the bands of lumpen goons under the command of the TMC wreaking havoc across the bengali countryside and in the cities. The TMC oligarchs rule with impunity taking the law into their own hands and brutally crushing any opposition. The party functions in a way that borders on outright fascism with harsh laws against organization and dissent. Gujarat has had a similar story.

Upon coming to power in Gujarat, Modi first eliminated his political opponents, both from within the party and from without. Consolidating political power was the first thing Modi did when in power a part of which was to conduct riots and use that to propel him to power. Once entrenched, he went about re-creating Gujarat in the image of a special economic zone where it is notoriously difficult to organize and agitate. The marginalization of muslims starting from the great purge in 2002 has gone on unabated. His state functions on the dual pillars of communalism and brutally neo-liberal economic policies. The former is the source of his political power and the latter the outcome of his economic power. His style of governance involves tight security

While it is infinitely more difficult to implement such policies on a national scale, we can expect him to try and implement it. This will cause tremendous tension from those resisting his policies. Even within Gujarat, where Modi rules with impunity, his rule is not unchallenged. A great example of this is in Mithi Virdi where thousands are protesting against a nuclear power plant project. This is being touted as Gujarat’s “nandigram”. For those of us who may have forgotten, the peasant’s protests at Nandigram, and the subsequent reaction of the Left Front led state government is what brought down the government from power. There have also been encouraging examples of worker’s strikes in Gujarat like the recent one in the textile sector. This led to the government increasing worker’s daily wages.

The rest of the country is even more volatile. For Modi to reign in on the entirety of class struggle would require a herculean effort. Even Thatcher couldn’t survive the fight against the class conscious British working class. Her government fell after ten years of fighting the British working class and no Tory government could come to power till the present one in alliance with the liberals. The Indian working class is on the move, and it will be just as difficult to curb it. This does not mean, we take things for granted.

How must we prepare ?

What this election shows is the bankruptcy of the traditional leaderships of the working class. We must fight for a new radical leadership for the working class, one which can fight on a war footing with the new reactionary government in power. It is not that class struggle has ended, or that people actually ‘prefer’ a reactionary and autocratic leadership at the helm. It is a fact that they saw no alternative in the feeble traditional leaderships around them. The result has been the election of a reactionary government in an unprecedented position of power. The present situation will bring new challenges in organizing the working class and poor for struggle. The attacks against them will not stop, rather it will grow sharper. Like Modi has shown in Gujarat, and how Mamta has shown the way in Bengal, the state will grow more aggressive. Building a revolutionary Bolshevik Leninist party becomes the need of the hour !

For those of us who are in the process of building this party, must prepare for the worst possible scenario. State owned companies will be privatized, labor laws will become more adverse, they will attempt to crush unions, curb free speech and increase militarization of the state. To counter this, we must organize more aggressively, for their every attack, we must prepare a massive counter. To every attempt at privatization, we must mobilize the workers of state enterprises. Here again, we state that it is time to shed the bureaucratic fragmentation of the workers by the sector they work with. ALL state sector workers must unite in their struggles against privatization. When they attempt at changing labor laws or curbing militant unions, we must ready the workers for an indefinite general strike ! When they attempt to curb free speech, we must mobilize activists across the country to challenge it. It has been done before, when Binayak Sen was unlawfully imprisoned or Shaheen Dhada was being harassed, everyone showed their support. Such must be our fervor.

There are those who are pessimistic and think that Modi and the forces which support him are unchallengeable. To them we have only to show the brave textile workers in Gujarat or the thousands of peasants at Mithi Virdi who are on struggle. Modi’s british precursor, the autocratic and megalomaniac Margaret Thatcher, couldn’t withstand the working class on the move. Not to forget, Modi and the RSS’ ideological mentor, Benito Mussolini. was ignominiously lynched on a lamp post. No matter how overbearing or ruthless the class enemy may seem, they are no match for the power of the working class in struggle !

The new government is going to make life difficult for the masses and for those fighting for their interests. But it will also get rid of any illusion that they may have on bourgeois democracy. The Congress and the Stalinists have been one huge smoke screen. That has now disappeared. This is a time to fight, and we must fight hard !

Long live working class unity ! Struggle until Victory !

Railway workers to go on strike !

Under pressure from their workers, the largest railway federation in India, the All India Railway Federation, had conducted a strike ballot on the 21st and 22nd of December. Most of the workers from all circuits showed enthusiastic participation in the ballot in which almost 80% of the workers voted. The ballot resulted in a resounding victory for the motion to go on strike with 96% of votes cast on ‘yes’ . Taking this example, another major union, the National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR) will be holding a ballot on the 17th and 18th of january.

The Strike is to be centered around a 36 point charter of demands formulated by the union which focusses on several long standing demands, the highlight of which is the opposition against the new pension scheme. Of the 10,00,000 workers represented by the union, almost 4,50,000 are young recruits who fear being deprived of the benefits of pension through this new pension scheme.

The call for strike comes in an overall economic crisis where cost of living is increasing due to inflation, and wages are declining or stagnating. The working class is facing the scourge of contractorization which is depriving them of labor rights and threatening them with pauperization. The strike itself is poised to be one of the most significant developments of labor struggles in India’s recent past. The last time the railway workers were as bold to enter into an indefinite strike was when class struggle was at its zenith, in 1974. This strike was also led by the AIRF and presided over by George Fernandes.

The indian railways are the single largest employer in India and the 4th largest employer in the world. In many ways it is the lifeblood of the economy, and a strike in this most strategic sector would have the effect of bringing the country to a standstill !

The theme of the charter :

Primarily the charter is formed with a trade consciousness bereft of any political aims. It is limited in its goals, to addressing the most empirically relateable demands without any plans on pushing the welfare goals further.

There is no call for abolition of contract labor in entirety, nor a whole scale demand for regularization of all contract workers, but simply alleviating the most painful features of the contractorization system, particularly those relating to pension and retirement benefits.

There is absolutely no mention of repealing acts like the Essential Services Maintenance Act which has been used and abused for decades to suppress strike actions. Particularly, the strike actions of transport workers and especially in rail transport. This would be a most unfortunate omission considering that the railways has faced the worst repression during the emergency period when worker’s rights were severely curtailed and a dictatorial regime was instituted in the country.

A long term programme must be instituted which deals not only with the concerns of the present generation of workers and the new recruits but also takes into consideration the entirety of the public sector and the deteriorating condition of the working class in it.

Need for solidarity :

The railway workers face a very stiff challenge ahead of them, and the state would most certainly be more than willing to use force to break the strike. In such a situation, the railway workers would require the solidarity and support of all the workers of India. And the total support of all parties and organizations which commit themselves to the working class.

The New Wave Bolshevik Leninist declares its full support to the railway strike for the fulfillment of their just demands.

ALL OUT SUPPORT TO THE RAILWAY WORKERS ! LONG LIVE CLASS STRUGGLE !

Rank-and-file Movement in World War II

– Bill Hunter

The phrase “the spirit of 1945” has inspired many activists this year. Ken Loach’s film of the same name led to discussions of what that spirit was.But what is less known are the deep processes taking place in the working class during the Second War World.
There was a determined effort by militant workers to break Labour from the coalition national government and to use strikes to fight for their conditions against the Labour Party, the Communist Party and the trade union leadership whose line was: don’t strike support the war, we are all in it together against fascism. Meanwhile the capitalists continued to get fat on war profits.

Then, as today new rank and file organisations needed to develop if workers were going to fight and win against the employers and government. It continued an old tradition of rank and file actions.

Post-war history is shaped in part by rank and file committees expressing independent struggle against union leaderships who would not fight, who were opposed for example to calling a general strike and in the Second World War any strike!
Here we re-publish Bill Hunter on the 1944 “Apprentices’ strike”. We are not in a World War but there is a brutal social war taking place. Rank and file struggle is vital today as the TUC majority back the Labour Party just as they did then.
Today we must fight to place decision making into the hands of mass meetings of the rank and file.
________________
In Marxists in the Second World War, Labour Review, December 1958, Bill explains about the rising movement of the class, “Working days lost by strikes, which fell to 940,000 in 1940, rose to 1,530,000 in 1942, 1,810,000 in 1943 and 3,710,000 in 1944. By the beginning of 1944 the government was faced with the prospect of a general strike throughout the coalfields. In the last months of 1943 there had been a wave of strikes, most of them in defence of young workers who had been conscripted for underground work”.
This story is from a chapter of Bill Hunter’s Lifelong Apprenticeship: Life and Times of a Revolutionary, Volume 1: 1920–1959. It is about the struggle of young engineering workers against conscription to the coal mines and the way the State tried to prepare an attack on militant workers by blaming the strikes on Trotskyists.
Strikes in war challenged union leaderships
The Labour and trade union bureaucracy was extremely worried at the biggest wave of industrial action since the 1926 General Strike, and at the growing political movement of hostility to the political truce.
As we have seen, at the beginning of 1944 no fewer than 44 resolutions were tabled for the Whitsun Labour Party conference demanding the end of the coalition government. The following year this movement in the Labour Party was to eject the party’s leaders from the Cabinet.
At the end of March 1944, 50,000 engineering apprentices went on strike. Their rank-and-file organisation, the ‘Apprentices’ Guild’, which had begun on the Tyne, was demanding that Bevin, the Minister of Labour, withdraw the new legislation that would conscript engineering apprentices into the mines, their names being chosen by ballot.
The Tyne Apprentices’ Guild expressed the deep feelings of young workers who, living in a coal-mining area, had the common opinion that they would rather go into the army than down the pits. One of their leaflets declared:
“The Government has adopted, and is now enforcing, the so-called Ballot Scheme. By this scheme, which was introduced without consulting the lads who will be driven down the pits, they claim they will solve the coal crisis. But this dictatorial measure has been taken against lads 18 to 21 years of age, who cannot legally demonstrate their hostility to, and lack of confidence in, the infamous pit compulsion scheme, because we lack the elementary rights of the Parliamentary vote.
“We apprentices declare that it is the greedy coal-owners who are responsible for the present coal crisis. They have soaked the miners for generations, grown fat on the sweat, tears, blood and broken bones of the miners. They have allowed the machinery in their pits to become antiquated, outdated and unproductive in their lust for profit. But the government has consistently refused to take real compulsory measures against the coal-owners. It is against the mass of unprotected youth that further dictatorial measures are taken.
“The government must nationalise the pits and operate them under the control of the trade unions”.

Government blames Trotskyists for strikes
The capitalist press had conducted a campaign against Trotskyists from time to time, but at the end of 1943 and the beginning of 1944 the campaign became more rabid and widespread when the government prepared further anti-working class legislation to curb industrial and political unrest. Bevin was about to introduce a new regulation, 1A(a), which further increased the curbs on strikes and made illegal any proposal of strike action outside of an officially and legally constituted trade union meeting. In the press campaign, Trotskyists were accused of being responsible for the growing number of strikes. It was said they were the ‘hidden hand’ behind the big wave of industrial struggle. TheDaily Mail of 7 October 1943 declared that the Trotskyists:
“…play on the weariness of workers who have had four years of war and exaggerate grievances into a campaign to suppress the workers after the war. Why they have been allowed to have so much success is incomprehensible”.

Trotskyists arrested
Four Trotskyists, Jock Haston, Roy Tearse, Heaton Lee and Ann Keen, were arrested and charged with conspiracy under the Trades Disputes Act (1927) and with furthering an illegal strike. Under the Trades Disputes Act, a punitive measure against the trade unions passed after the General Strike, an illegal strike was one which “is not a trade dispute within the trade and is designed to coerce the government”.
These four Trotskyists were the first victims of this Act, which had originally been denounced as an infamous attack on workers’ rights by the very Labour and trade union leaders in the Cabinet which used it in 1944. The Newcastle jury flung out the conspiracy and incitement charges, even though, in a summing up hostile to the four accused, the judge directed them to support the charges. The Trotskyists were however found guilty of ‘furthering an illegal strike’, even though, in a previous judgement in the House of Lords it had been ruled that a strike could only be ‘furthered’ if it was already taking place and not before it had begun.

Letters to jail

Letters sent by Rachel Ryan, who then wrote daily to her sister, Ann Keen, in Durham Jail. In a letter dated 18 April, the news is about Regulation 1A(a) and how it appears to be directed against the whole of the workers:
“Anyone who speaks for strike action, however peaceably, except at a TU branch meeting, is liable to £500 fine and/or five years penal servitude. This is really vicious and will shake the whole of the labour movement.
The letter ends by saying that the TUC ‘have apparently’ accepted Regulation 1A(a). The next letter, dated 24 April, reports bus workers’ strikes and the solidarity shown by soldiers who were being compelled to drive and conduct buses:

“The London busmen have gone back to work today, but the Manchester busmen are still out. They are all giving a magnificent answer to Bevin. I don’t know whether you saw the item in the Herald to say that [with] the fares which the soldiers had collected on the buses, amounting to about four pounds at one garage, they had taken the drivers and conductresses out to the local pub and treated them and had a good old sing-song together. Real fraternisation all right.

“I expect you have seen the Daily Worker, although coming out mildly against the new legislation as not necessary, since the Defence Regulations and the Essential Works Orders] could be strengthened, have lost no time in trying to incite the Government to use the new legislation against us in their article on the bus strike.”

There was a great deal of support from activists in the trade union movement and in the left of the Labour Party in the campaign against the arrests.
All the sentences were later quashed on appeal. The state and press propaganda did not arouse a great deal of hostility to Trotskyism among the working class in the industrial areas. There was wide support among trade unionists for the campaign against the arrests…
To be sure, the state was worried about the increase of struggle, particularly among the miners, and nervous that the circulation and influence of Trotskyist propaganda could rapidly advance. But the state’s main attack was directed against the workers’ increasing combativity, mainly in engineering and mining, and the aim of the witch hunt against Trotskyists and of the arrests was to split and push back those who were struggling. The propaganda about subversives and the ‘hidden hand’ was meant to build up the atmosphere for further drastic measures against strike action, which Ernest Bevin as Minister of Labour was preparing to introduce.
Before I leave the 1944 arrests there is a story to relate of a significant victory against our Stalinist branch president, Len Hines, who was a leading Communist Party member in the area. He was convenor of Lincoln Cars factory, which became part of Ford’s and was at the Chiswick end of the Great West Road.

Members had to attend the Amalgamated Engineering Union branch meetings in order to pay their subscriptions. There would be 60 or 70 workers seated in the room with a queue at the back paying subscriptions. Hines dominated the meeting until we began to win support and eventually defeated him on a number of resolutions, including backing for the four Trotskyists who were arrested.

Our stand on the Telengana agitation

Our Stand on the Telengana agitation :

One of the most significant movements of recent times in the India has been the agitation for a separate state of Telengana. The movement that started out in the 1960s with a bloody uprising of students and peasants came to a conclusion some weeks ago with the cabinet decision passed for the separation of Telengana from Andhra Pradesh, forming two separate federal states. Unsurprisingly, this has led to vigorous agitation from those who want an undivided Andhra Pradesh including the districts of Telengana. But if we only analysed the parties and groups involved in this agitation we would be using a superficial and artificial perspective on the massive movements taking place among the people, and only blind ourselves to the real dynamics beneath the surface.

The entire history of the Telengana province and of the political struggles in Andhra Pradesh reveals a continuum of failures of bourgeois political solutions for the people of both Andhra and Telengana. The present situation in Andhra is no different and only reflects this failure more glaringly. All the major parties, from the ultra-right to the Stalinist (and even the Maoist) left, have only proposed one kind of pro-capitalist solution or another. None have proposed a socialist solution calling for a government of workers and poor peasants and tribals running the region themselves in their own best interests and for their own and incidentally everyone’s benefit.

The root cause of the struggle :

The 1930s and the 1940s saw a mass awakening in the Indian sub-continent. The working class emerged as a serious political force in the affairs of India. The peninsular South was not immune from this, and the emergent bourgeoisie around Seema Andhra was drawn into the national anti-colonial movement. The workers and peasants eventually entered the stage under the communist party and the movement grew to be irresistible.

The peasants overwhelmingly supported the bourgeoisie of Seema Andhra, but this was only because they welcomed and were ready to fight for the anti-colonial and anti-feudal agenda of the pro-independence bourgeoisie (at that time led by the Congress party). The roots of the agitation were deep in this anti-colonial and anti-feudal struggle, whose highest point was probably the Telengana rebellion of 1946. The peasant rebellion was in essence anti-feudal in nature and had an agrarian agenda. The core questions of land reform and rural welfare were topmost on the agenda upon the abolition of the feudal Hyderabad Nizamat. But the defeat of the Telengana uprising by the Indian army that forced Hyderabad into the Indian union under the Congress government, destroyed any hope of the people themselves being able to resolve these burning questions of the democratic revolution. The Stalinists gave up the revolutionary struggle the moment they shunned the armed uprising in favor of a parliamentary approach within the bourgeois Indian state. Ultimately the caricature of the democratic revolution that was bourgeois Independence was replayed with equal brutality and neglect of popular needs in the provinces of Telengana and Andhra.

The merger of Telengana and Andhra arose from the demand of a united province for Telegu speaking people in which the regions of Rayalseema and Telengana would be included, both of them vastly poorer than the Seema Andhra region. The natural reaction of the people of these provinces was fear and suspicion on the domination of the bourgeoisie, and subsequent experience did not improve relations between the people of any of the provinces concerned. The capitalist model of development not only preserved the inequalities between the two provinces but exacerbated it. A nouveau-riche bourgeoisie based in Telengana soon took advantage of these sentiments and channelized them into self-interested regionalism. The Stalinists had long since become irrelevant as a relevant political force in Telengana and Andhra having failed the agrarian revolution in 1946. The bourgeoisie led by the Congress was now indisputably the chief political force and devoted itself to exploiting, misdirecting and repressing the struggles of the peasants and youth who constitute the most potent social force behind the agitation.

There is no lack of revolutionary energy among the masses of unemployed and pauperized youth and peasantry, they are ready and willing to fight and sacrifice everything for their cause. But in the absence of revolutionary leadership, their entire potential has been drawn off into a narrow regionalist agenda that is permanently and completely detached from the real interests of the people.

The political forces and their role :

The main political force in Telengana is the bourgeoisie organized around the Congress party, and their role is truly national in scale. A perspective that views the Telengana movement from the perspective of Andhra and Telengana alone cannot understand the reality of the situation in the region. The Congress party became the undisputed leading political force after militarily crushing the Communist party and remains so till today.

The decisive victory of the bourgeoisie in crushing the first Telengana rebellion and its unbroken control over the united Andhra movement ensured lasting domination. Through this time, the bourgeoisie’s power rested on its ability to secure the support of the mass of peasants and petty-bourgeois forces around a regionalist agenda where an end to backwardness and regional development were popular catch calls. Students too formed an ideological as well as material backbone of the Telengana movement, providing a strong urban force. But none of the leading bourgeois parties had an agenda that would bring about the betterment of the people they led into battle. It was never long before the mobilizations degenerated into a political game of grabbing the best spoils.

With the fall from power of the Congress party at the central level in the 1990s, the party underwent a series of splits. Bengal and Maharashtra ended up with their own regional Congress parties. Andhra was not immune to this. The internal dissidence of the Congress party leaders over the backwardness of Telengana and the need to keep a united Andhra led to splits from the Congress to create specific regional parties. In this period the Telegu Desam Party emerged as a challenger to the Congress, with the facade of championing the interests of Telegu culture. More recently the Y.S.R Congress emerged from a split within the Congress party. Likewise, the Telengana Rashtra Samiti emerged from the support given by the Indian National Congress to counter the influence of the Telegu Desam Party adding to the chaos of squabbling bourgeois opportunists and fortune-hunters.

The Congress party is ruthlessly determined to rule over both Telengana and Andhra, and the cunning way it plays off various regional interests against each other shows very clearly how little it cares for any of them. Holding aloof and vacillating between keeping the peace between its dissidents and inciting a fight between them has been a cornerstone of Congress Party policy towards Telengana. If they support statehood for Telengana today, it is not with any concern for the people, but as a strategic gambit to grab more seats in the state legislature and the national parliament. The Maoists know only too well the cunning strategy behind the vacillations, a kind of maneouvre which the centrally established bourgeois democrats have perfected in India, as they’ve been severely damaged by it. The Telengana region was a core stronghold of the Naxalite movement in India till the Congress government retook power (with the tacit help of the Maoists, intent on committing political and too often literal suicide by refusing to organize and fight on a principled class-based revolutionary set of demands). Once it was back in power, the Congress unleashed the full force of paramilitaries upon them. Presently, the left is all but exterminated from the political landscape in Andhra and Telengana. Whatever lame-duck presence the Stalinists can muster is only a token blip. This is a lethal and permanent punishment for their betrayal of the Telengana movement and the foolishness of trying to make alliances with bourgeois factions.

The chaotic situation has only gotten worse with the recent emergence of reactionary and obscurantist communal forces offering their support to the Telengana separatist movement. The BJP under Modi seems to be in an unofficial competition with the Congress to support Telengana statehood. Needless to say, this provides yet another destabilizing dynamic to the barrel of nitroglycerine that is Telengana (especially considering the substantial and cruelly victimized Muslim population of Hyderabad) and will only add more blood and agony to the already horrific record of Indian capitalism in Telengana.

The first task of any revolutionary organization in such a situation is to dispel confusion and silence the braying of the bourgeois asses, and to speak clearly on what must be done and why. In supporting the Telengana agitation and backing the creation of a separate state, we do not for a second support any of the bourgeois factions trying to round up the support of the pauperized peasantry for their own selfish ends, but we advance our own programme of demands, based on the immediate material and social needs of the working class and the poor peasantry. We put forward a socialist alternative aimed at breaking the monopoly power of the bourgeoisie (in all its forms) over social production and development.

The proletarian alternative :

The policy of the Indian bourgeoisie over the Telengana issue follows the same pattern as everywhere. Hijacking powerful class-based movements, watering down or ignoring the class-based demands that drive the mobilizations, and using the social energy generated by the masses to secure their own selfish, limited interests, often diametrically opposed to those of the masses who bring them to power, and never of any benefit to them at the very least. To this effect, almost all bourgeois parties try their best to suppress the core questions of economic disparity and general impoverishment of the populace and replace them with some vaguely defined concept of ‘identity’. The identity itself is pure opportunism as far as the bourgeoisie is concerned. It can be religious, for communalist hooligans, nationalist, for Great India chauvinists, regional, for local discontents, ethnic, gender-based. It doesn’t matter. The aim is too obvious to ignore. In Telengana, they want to give the entire movement a direction which suits the interests of each regional bourgeois leaderships. Each wants to get or keep a position of power. The mass power of the people is either corralled to this end, or defused, or derailed. To this sorry state of chaos, revolutionary bolsheviks present their own alternative based on the core interests of the people.

1)The agrarian question :

The social rage generated by the Telengana question is rooted in a more general agrarian question. The question of the land has been central, from the anti-feudal rebellions in Telengana and Andhra to the present situation, where Naxalism had till recently strong and widespread support among the most pauperized sections of the peasantry. The Indian bourgeoisie has sought to resolve this burning democratic question of land reform in an absurdly inadequate fashion. In Piecemeal ! The bourgeoisie was never consistent in its fight against the kings and princes of old, and is even less interested in the general material, social and cultural prosperity of the rural populace. We have not the slightest reason to rely on their leadership. They have patently failed us for 60 years and are still blatantly failing us today !

The most immediate and important question is the question of Land. This is a reflection of the needs of the peasantry and the countryside nationwide. It is at the heart of any real solution to India’s problems of modernization and achieving a decent life for all who live and work in India. To resolve the waste and destruction of the countryside by capitalism, we present our agrarian programme which is founded on the Nationalization of Land ! Under this scheme, power would flow to the most basic unit of authority in the villages, the gram sabhas which would collectively and cooperatively take responsibility for the land and ensure the fair and equal distribution of land to all. This goes hand in hand with a programme for Abolition of rural debt. Indebtedness is the main driver of rural poverty in the region reflected by the endemic farmer suicides. This needs an urgent answer which only a revolutionary bolshevik force can provide.

Such a solution not only eliminates disparity in the countryside, but also eradicates indebtedness and low productivity, core causes of impoverishment of the peasantry in general. Equally importantly, it seeks to eliminate the power of the land owning bourgeoisie in the major cities, primarily in Hyderabad which has been fought over like a marrow bone in a dogfight between the bourgeoisies of Andhra and Telengana, much to the detriment of its citizens.

2) The question of uneven development :

While all leading political parties have made the question of the disparity between Telengana and Andhra the main focus of the struggle, none have any viable solution for this. Indeed, no bourgeois force can resolve such a question, where their interests are inextricably linked with the preservation of capitalism and furthering their interests on the backs of the workers and peasants. Only the people of both states can settle this question, in an atmosphere of equality and cooperation.

In 1972, the Congress played the lofty arbitrator and mediated an agreement between the leaderships of Telengana and Seema Andhra resulting in the Mulki rules, which gave preference in jobs to locals from the Telengana region. This shows the general ineptitude of the bourgeoisie in resolving any of the burning questions facing the people of the state, as such a solution can only be implemented on condition of permanent acceptance of unemployment, and deprivation. To such a crippled solution revolutionary bolsheviks counterpose a programme for full employment and equal opportunities ! Guaranteed, as such a programme must be, by a plan for nationalized corporations leading the effort at generating full employment and providing opportunities for all. Something which is impossible if the biggest corporations and enterprises remain in the hands of the greedy and parasitical capitalists or their henchmen, allowing them to exploit these assets for their own greedy ends.

But this solution won’t work if it simply targets Telengana and Andhra alone. It has to be part of a national program and we consequently need a total national solution to the regional nightmares bedevilling the whole of India.

Within the regional context, we propose a programme worked out by the people in committees at all levels of the community in full democratic consultation, settled and ratified by public plebiscite to ensure the fair management of water of rivers flowing from Telengana to Andhra as well as the democratic management of electricity supply and needs of Telengana with direct people’s participation. What we propose is not a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ which would have no value (we have seen how little such things mean to the bourgeoisie when it smells profits), or any kind of  skewed laws like the Mulki rules which only end up compounding the problems they seek to solve, but a concrete solution which seeks to eradicate once and for all the problems facing the people of Telengana and Seema Andhra and set them on the road to making a dignified and prosperous life for themselves.

This however, requires clarity on the overarching immediate demand of the people of Telengana as well as the interests of the oppressed classes in Seema Andhra and Rayalaseema. The merger of Andhra and Telengana in 1956 was not founded upon a popular mandate in Telengana, and was bound to result in gross inequalities between the two states. This could only result in the continuing domination of more enriched Seema Andhra based bourgeoisie. If the same be allowed to continue, the seething discontent *( which has already resulted in 300 self-immolations of youth activists and countless revolts by the people of Telengana, each met with police brutality ending in much bloodshed) would go on without any solution in sight. Not one bourgeois leader in Telengana nor Andhra has any concrete solution to offer beyond vague assurances and promises all in the nature of ‘gentleman’s agreements’ .

For a revolutionary party, the choice is stark and must be made without hesitation. The interests of the people of both Telengana and Andhra are inextricably bound with the question of statehood for Telengana and we are duty bound to give it our support. But in doing so, we do not ignore our task of providing a concrete socialist solution to the core needs of the people. The nature of the Telengana movement, is fundamentally one which aims at self-determination. Any support to a movement of self-determination can only be given on the logic of bridging the divided between the oppressed classes of the dominating and dominated states. For this it is necessary to both support the immediate demand of statehood as well as present our own independent programme against both the ambitious wannabe bourgeoisie of Telengana as well as the greedy dominating bourgeoisie of Seema Andhra. To the chaos these bourgeoisies have to offer, we provide our own programme for the betterment of the workers, peasants and youth. The programme of Permanent revolution!

ABOLISH ALL RURAL DEBT !

NATIONALIZE THE LAND ! LAND FOR THE PEOPLE !

FULL EMPLOYMENT AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES !

The Garment Worker’s Struggle continues :

The garment workers of Bangladesh have been struggling for decent conditions of work and living wages since for nearly a decade. The movement had reached a pinnacle in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in November last year which took the lives of more than 1000 workers ! This tragic disaster has sparked off one of the strongest mobilizations of garment workers in recent times and has succeeded in winning important advances. One year on the struggle remains strong and continues to score victories. The most recent of which has been an increase in the minimum wage to $100.

The significance of the present mobilization is both in terms of its scale as well as its intensity. Workers have targeted factories and there have been frequent incidence of arson and violence. It has been reported that the strike resulted in the closure of more than 100 factories and a 20 percent decline in national productivity. The strike has already encompassed a vast majority of workers employed in the sector which serves as the backbone of the Bangladeshi economy.

The mobilization in Bangladesh has also served to inspire actions throughout the globe targeting western retail conglomerates which has acted in support of the just demands of the workers in Bangladesh. Important mobilizations have taken place against Walmart and GAP in the USA where workers of these retail giants have voiced their support for the garment worker’s agitation and likewise activists from Bangladesh have given their support to the agitation against unfair labor practices by Walmart. Such solidarity actions have been instrumental at creating safety accords which mark a victorious milestone in the struggle of the garment workers.

The aftermath of the Rana Plaza incident :

The Rana Plaza tragedy revealed in full the exploitative nature of capitalism in Bangladesh as well as which vested interests played the leading role in the most ruthless exploitation of the workers. The garment workers haven’t been silent victims to this. Several times there have been major mobilizations in the garment industry each aimed at the abolition of sweatshop conditions existing in the 5100 factories in this sector. The mobilizations in 2006 and 2009 were significant in the fact that it showed the power of the masses of the workers mobilized in struggle. The mobilizations following the collapse the Rana plaza and another major factory have exceeded them both in terms of scale and impact. Notably, it has succeeded in giving the struggle of the garment workers an international dimension.

The present mobilizations may be traced to the ‘wildcat’ general strike action and has often been characterized by ‘plebian anger’ directed against the very means of production in which they work. The first object of anger for the workers have been the garment factories themselves. Soon after the tragedy at Savar, garments workers have burnt several factories in protest.[2] This action has been reminiscent of Marx’s description of the initial period of struggle by the proletariat in the Communist Manifesto : “They direct their attacks not against the bourgeois conditions of production, but against the instruments of production themselves; they destroy imported wares that compete with their labour, they smash machinery to pieces, they set factories ablaze”. However, unlike the primitive workmen of the mid 19th century that Marx described, the garments workers aren’t interested in ‘restoring the abolished status of the medieval workman’ but in achieving higher standards of welfare and better conditions of work !

This combination of plebian anger with a more advanced trajectory of struggle is a potentially revolutionary combination which can open the way for further more advanced struggles in the near future and gives the garments workers’ fight immense importance in the socio-political landscape of Bangladesh. What is severely lacking in this picture is the presence of an organized revolutionary force which can channelize this raw energy and lead the workers through more advanced tactics in their battle against the viciously exploitative garment bosses and their imperial protectors. Among the major obstacles to build an organized movement of the garment workers are the restrictions on freedom of unionization. Indeed many have lost their lives trying to organize the garment workers into unions.

Importance of international solidarity :

One of the most significant aspects of the present mobilizations of the garment workers is the strength and spread of international solidarity. It must be noted, while the previous mobilizations occurred in an international situation without any revolutionary mobilizations anywhere, the present struggle is being waged with the revolutions in North Africa and the Levant. Furthermore, the waves of upheavals in the last two years in Europe and America have radicalized the workers and youth in those countries. When the worker’s uprising had emerged in Bangladesh there were already protests against companies like Walmart and Gap. The ground was ready for a widespread international solidarity of workers in Europe and America.

Some of the most significant solidarity actions took place in Boston, Madrid, and Toronto among other places. These were aimed against the leading retail corporations which source products from Bangladeshi sweatshops in the name of ‘cheap fast fashion’. Gap and Walmart as well as several important Canadian and Spanish retail brands have been the target of these actions. In addition to this, the dogged advocacy and activism of labor lawyers have been successful in putting pressure on these mega-marts.[6]

These actions together with the continuing advances of workers in Bangladesh have resulted in signing safety accords which bring a degree of accountability in sourcing material for retail. So far European brands have shown greater willingness than others in signing these accords.[7] As of now, 100 brands have signed safety accords. What these advances show is the strength of the mobilization and the concrete impact on the ground. However, shortcomings remain which must be addressed.

Tactics of struggle and international solidarity :

The biggest weakness of the movement of garment workers has also been its hitherto existing strength, the spontaneous nature of the mobilizations. While this has ensured that the workers can erupt freely into unrestrained offensives, it lacks a channelized direction for putting forth demands or a long term goal. While it would be wrong to say that the entire agitation is completely unorganized. The vast majority of garment workers and the vast majority of actions taking place are outside the bounds of labor organization. The main reason for this of course, is the immense pressure mounted by garment bosses (with complete cooperation and protection from the government). In addition to the fact that since the majority of the 3.5 million workers in the industry are women, posing problems unique to organizing women in the labor movement.

This unorganized nature of agitations has created two chief problems. Firstly, it has meant that a long term united programme isn’t being placed to carry on the struggle. Secondly, it means that international solidarity efforts get scuttled owing to a very weak communication between activists in Bangladesh and those in other countries. The restrictions on freedom of political association as well as forming unions, add to the problems of organizing the garment workers. While this situation remains, the focus of demands *( which seem unclear ) appear to be on winning wage increases and attaining some immediate relief from the deplorable conditions of work in the garment sweatshops. This disconnect can only be bridged by a concerted effort to organize on the basis of a programme with clear political aims. Such a programme can and must be realized in a socialist programme with the aim of revolutionary overthrow of capitalism.

Likewise, organizing international solidarity in support of agitations of the garment workers would be indispensable to securing a complete victory in struggle. As has already been proven through the example of the solidarity actions in North America, and Europe, solidarity is not simply a question of token gestures to ‘feel good’ about, but concrete action which produce concrete results. These actions though having impact, are impaired due to the weak co-ordination and communication with activists and unionists on the ground.

Towards a programme of action :

The foundation of action is theory, and theory expresses itself in programme. The right demands and the right slogans translate into the right actions. So it is for the garments workers struggle in Bangladesh. Considering the present situation any programme for action must express the most urgent needs of the garment workers.

1) Full Freedom of Organization and Association !

The foundation stone of a strong democratically organized struggle of the working class is freedom of organization and association. Repressive measures at the workplace and outside must be fought against tooth and nail. An immediate and urgent demand must be for full and unfettered right to organize at the workplace and to associate with any political party. We propose a campaign built around this demand with solidarity of workers from all sectors of the national economy as well as human rights and labor action groups coordinated globally.

2) For Living Wages and a Sliding Scale of Wages !

The highlight of the movement of the garment workers is the demand for wage increases to levels with which they can afford a decent livelihood. But so far, the concessions have been sporadic and piecemeal. Each time the workers have shown their power, the government and garment bosses have given a concession. While the latest concession achieved is a sight better than the last, such victories are not founded on strong roots. What the garment workers need is a lasting solution to their problems. What is needed is a base of living wage adjusted to the cost of living for a family of 5, to be under constant adjustment to inflation levels i.e. To a sliding scale. With each increase of the cost of living wages must automatically increase in proportion. Every wage agreement must mandatorily have such a provision to benefit the workers and their families, many of whom are dependent on the labor of the garment workers.

3) Full nationalization of the garment industry !

Despite all manner of efforts on accountability and imposing strict safety regulations, the garment bosses through their political clout and financial strength, manage to evade answer. One big reason why wage agreements and safety accords aren’t honored has been the protection and privilege of the garment factory owners themselves ! The only way to ensure proper accountability is maintained and worker’s rights are respected is through Nationalization of the industry in the interests of the garment workers and the people at large. Such a nationalization must be done so without compensation and under worker’s control following a cooperative model. Only this way, can the garment workers secure their interests both in terms of decent work conditions as well as a securing a living wage.

What is Fascism and how to fight it – Clara Zetkin

Our Introduction:

[Recent events in India and the world have forced the question of fascism back to the surface. Of particular importance is the re-emergence of the RSS and in particular of Modi in India, and the Golden Dawn party in Greece. At the same time there is a global resurgence of the working class and there are powerful popular revolutionary mobilizations in North Africa and the Middle East that challenge and overthrow governments and refuse to retreat into passive acquiescence in the face of new oppressors. In this situation of social and political uncertainly and tidal change, there is everywhere confusion about the nature of fascism and the kind of threat it poses. In everyday discussions, any act of tyranny is labelled fascism, but this is loose and lazy thinking that distorts a useful political perspective on the question of fascism and weakens the struggle against it. For instance, a lot of the international left thought Bush was somehow as fascist as Hitler ! This nonsense only helps the capitalist ruling class and its regime of reactionary bourgeois democracy. It blurs our focus and prevents us seeing our class enemies as they are, and stops us finding the most effective ways of hurting them and bringing them down.
 
The peculiar conditions in India exacerbate the negative effects of this confusion. What confuses socialists in India especially is the automatic posing of communalism and fascism as the same thing. Communal violence, be it between rival castes or the more infamous hindu-muslim communalism, is not something exclusive to the RSS or VHP. Often enough, self-proclaimed secular parties have indulged in the most horrifying communal carnage. The butchery perpetrated by Congress during the anti-sikh riots is a glaring example of this. This political confusion has made it almost fashionable to label any and every communalist atrocity as fascism ‘of an Indian variety’. The effects are twofold. On the one hand, communalism (which is a deeply rooted socio-political evil stemming from the British-inspired partition of the sub-continent) is mixed up with fascism (a violent and openly irrational social and political movement against the working class). On the other hand, the solutions for fighting fascism become muddled. In both cases, the dominant bourgeoisie, i.e. the capitalist ruling class, benefits, and ‘democratic’ reaction is strengthened. Once, by exploiting minority fears to its advantage (posing as ‘secular’,’democratic’ saviours), and again by being able to hijack any independent class-based effort to counter the threat of fascism. This ‘anti-fascist’ fraud has just been enacted in Greece, in fact, with the (very belated, and probably reluctant) crackdown on the leadership of the neo-nazi Golden Dawn movement, including its representatives in parliament and its supporters in the police and judiciary.
 
Clarity is the need of the hour ! The cost of an unclear view of fascism can be annihilation. Why? Well, the function of fascism is twofold. First, to destroy the organization and leadership of an ascending working class, and second, to channel raging petty bourgeois frustration and discontent away from a revolutionary progressive struggle where they would make common cause with the working class, towards mass action lining them up behind the interests of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie invests enormous resources in money and manpower in its war against the working class, and the most extreme of expression of its zealous hate, as we have seen historically in Italy, Germany, Spain, and the post ww2 Latin American dictatorships of Brazil, Argentina and Chile, for instance, is fascism. But history has also shown us that this is an expensive option, with catastrophic longterm effects, so it is not one which the bourgeoisie prefers in peace time. Democratic reaction, with the ever-present option of dictatorial emergency powers, is the norm, and the corner stone of this policy is pacify and dominate. The classical combination, in Marx’s words, of representation and repression.
 
The bourgeoisie invests in dividing the working class to prevent unity from arising in action. While weakening us, it strengthens itself at our expense ! This is where communalism makes its entry, in addition to, alongside, and distinct from fascism. In the Indian context, there is no easier way to keep the working class pacified than making working men and women fight against their own class brethren while stupidly following the lead of the bourgeoisie. The lasting legacy of partition can today be seen in events like Muzaffarnagar, where the ruling ‘secular’ Samajwadi party has deliberately allowed the communal carnage to take place unchecked. The RSS clearly had a hand in organizing the propaganda and mobilizing communities around reactionary caste-based chauvinism, but their main aim was not to target the working class or even to hijack petty-bourgeois frustration and rage. It was done simply to to organize a large scale pogrom against the muslim community. If we look beneath the superficial similarities between the attitude of the RSS towards the muslims and the Nazis towards the jews, it soon becomes clear that they’re hugely different from each other.
 
Battling this kind of fascism by calling for armed workers’ militias or massive violent force rooted in a united front of the working class is badly mistimed given the low level of class consciousness in India still, and quite misdirected, as there are no offices to attack or fascists to kill. Likewise, viewing every brand of religious or caste communalism as fascism blinds us to the threat when it really does emerge. The TMC though not a fully fascist formation is far clearer in launching pogroms against the Stalinist parties and attacking the working class than is the RSS or its supposed parliamentary twin the BJP.
 
In 1923, when Fascism had just started to show itself as a viable political force in the world, with the rise of Mussolini in Italy, Clara Zetkin from the old Bolshevik party, clarified and explained the nature of this threat to the working class and what it meant. While written almost 9 decades back, the questions answered by her are relevant even today to help understanding fascism. In particular, it helps us see through the myriad confusions over fascism prevalent in India.
 
We should bear in mind some important factors stressed by Clara that no longer have any social relevance for the growth of a mass fascist movement aiming to hijack the state apparatus and dismantle the formal rights and safeguards of bourgeois democracy.
 
The most important of these is the complete annihilation of the ultra-left ethos of classical fascism. Both Mussolini and Hitler started out as raging ultra-left socialists. Ultra-leftism as a childhood disorder growing up into an epidemic capable of destroying the world… Their original programmes stole freely and unashamedly from revolutionary socialism, shaming the reformist left leaderships by exposing their cowardice when it came to demanding what the masses wanted and needed. Clara gives a detailed account of the betrayal of this left-sounding programmed by Mussolini’s fascism. This is no longer an issue for us today. The fascists have ditched anything resembling left politics. All they have is an extremely superficial lumpen-proletarian “us ordinary Indian (or British or whatever) workers vs them” caricature of class appeal. The rise of Spanish fascism under Franco was a much more modern development in one way, as it had nothing whatever to do with an ultra-left appeal to the more ignorant elements of the working class or the frustrated proletarianized petty-bourgeois masses. But of course in Spain, the whole working class was ranged against Franco’s fascism – the divisions that led to its defeat were the fruit of Stalinist leadership failing to unite the class against militarized bourgeois reaction, and anarchist leadership failing to defeat the challenge of Stalinism for the hearts and minds of the Spanish working class.
 
The other important factor stressed by Clara is the mass base of fascism in the once independent but now wage-enslaved petty-bourgeoisie and small peasantry. Ruined by the success of Big Capital, impoverished once fee-earning doctors, teachers, and intellectuals were now either unemployed or scraping by on minimal salaries, and they hated it. And since their consciousness was individualistic and nostalgic, rooted in some imagined utopian past, they blamed outsiders and newcomers for their plight rather than the actual cause itself, Big Capital bankrupting them.
 
The process of blaming outsiders and newcomers is still alive and well in today’s fascist movements, where ultra-nationalism is the main ideological refrain, and it’s absurd to see the identical process of selecting appropriate scapegoats in every would-be special and different national framework. National minorities here, immigrants there, the  most recent usually being the most vilified. The left is always attacked for being anti-national, too, but sometimes this is difficult because occasionally the left is strongly organized against the fascists and more often because the established treacherous working class leaderships in labour parties and trade unions are at least as racist and anti-immigrant as the fascists themselves.
 
Three years after Clara wrote her article the great General Strike of 1926 broke out in Britain. The university students were out in force scabbing to break the strike. Today this is almost unthinkable. The most likely student attitude in many countries would be apathy, while a solid majority of students would be out helping the striking workers and organizing politically and socially in many other countries. This was seen with great clarity in the enormous youth mobilizations accompanying the end of the Vietnam war, and in particular in the years leading up to and culminating in the youth revolt of 1968.
 
And the process of proletarianization is as good as over in many countries. Not in India, but here the petty-bourgeoisie is huge and hard to break. So the millions of frustrated new recruits to unemployment and wage-slavery from once-comfortable professions that were found everywhere in the early decades of imperialist capitalism no longer exist. Their place has been taken by worker-peasants, where the poorest peasants are crushed by debt and driven onto the pavements of the metropolitan slums. A breeding ground for lumpenproletarian thugs for the fascists, of course, as can be seen in the slums of Karachi for instance, but nothing resembling the ‘respectable’ shopkeepers and small professionals who thronged the streets of Germany to cheer Hitler.
 
These differences from today are fundamental, but in no way lessen the danger to workers’ lives and communities from fascist gangs if these are allowed to put down roots and thrive in our cities. Workers must be prepared to organize themselves locally and regionally to challenge fascist gangs in battle if need be, and drive them out of their communities by force. This is the language fascists understand. And since they are unthinking cowards and bullies, a few sharp strokes of a stick across the snout will prove very effective deterrents. This requires local committees with complete self-reliance. The job has to be done on the spot. It will be the more effective, the better organized and the more conscious it is, but the local input is paramount.
 
And we should never forget that one of the most effective weapons against the scapegoating ideology of fascism is the pointing finger. “So, you’re angry because you’re out of work?” “Yeah” “Well, that poor/unemployed scapegoat over there never employed you, and never sacked you either, and he’s in the shit like you. That fat cat in the nice suit over there, on the other hand, he employed you, or rejected you, and he has thrown you onto the street.” “Hm, never thought of that…”
]

On Fascism:

In Fascism, the proletariat is confronted by an extraordinarily dangerous enemy. Fascism is the concentrated expression of the general offensive undertaken by the world bourgeoisie against the proletariat. Its overthrow is therefore an absolute necessity, nay, it is even a question of the every-day existence and of the bread and butter of every ordinary worker. On these grounds the whole of the proletariat must concentrate on the fight against Fascism. It will be much easier for us to defeat Fascism if we clearly and distinctly study its nature.

Hitherto there have been extremely vague ideas upon this subject not only among the large masses of the workers, but even among the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat and the Communists. Hitherto Fascism has been put on a level with the White Terror of Horthy in Hungary. Although the methods of both are similar, in essence they are different. The Horthy Terror was established after the victorious, although short lived, revolution of the proletariat had been suppressed, and was the expression of vengeance of the bourgeoisie. The ringleaders of the White Terror were a quite small clique of former officers. Fascism, on the contrary, viewed objectively, is not the revenge of the bourgeoisie in retaliation for proletarian aggression against the bourgeoisie, but it is a punishment of the proletariat for failing to carry on the revolution begun in Russia. The Fascist leaders are not a small and exclusive caste; they extend deeply into wide elements of the population.

We have to overcome Fascism not only militarily, but also politically and ideologically. The reformists even to-day consider Fascism to be nothing else but naked violence, the reaction against the violence begun by the proletariat. To the reformists the Russian Revolution amounts to the same thing as Mother Eve’s biting into the apple in the Garden of Eden. The reformists trace Fascism back to the Russian Revolution and its consequences. Nothing else was meant by Otto Bauer at the Unity Congress at Hamburg, when he declared that a great share of the blame for Fascism rests on the Communists, who had weakened the force of the proletariat by continual splits. In saying this he entirely ignored the fact that the German Independents had made their split long before the demoralising example was given by the Russian Revolution. Contrary to his own views, Bauer, at Hamburg, had to draw the conclusion that the organised violence of Fascism must be met by forming defence organisations of the proletariat, because no appeal to democracy can avail against direct violence. At any rate, he went on to explain that he did not mean such weapons as insurrection or a general strike which did not always lead to success. What he meant was the co-ordination of parliamentary action with mass action. What was to be the nature of these actions Otto Bauer did not say, but this is the very point of the question. The only weapon recommended by Bauer for the fight against Fascism was the establishment of an International Bureau of Information on world reaction. The distinguishing feature of this new-old International is its faith in the power and permanence of bourgeois domination, and its mistrust and cowardice towards the proletariat as the strongest factor of the world revolution. They are of the opinion that against the invulnerable force of the bourgeoisie the proletariat can do nothing else but act with moderation and refrain from teasing the tiger of the bourgeoisie. Fascism, with all its forcefulness in the prosecution of its violent deeds, is indeed nothing else but the expression of the disintegration and decay of capitalist economy, and the symptom of the dissolution of the bourgeois State. This is one of its roots. Symptoms of this decay of capitalism were observed even before the war. The war has shattered capitalist economy to its foundation, resulting not only in the colossal impoverishment of the proletariat, but also in deep misery for the petty bourgeoisie, the small peasantry and the intellectuals. All these elements had been promised that the war would bring about an amelioration of their material conditions. But the very opposite has happened. Large numbers of the former middle classes have become proletarians, having entirely lost their economic security.

Their ranks were joined by large masses of ex-officers, who are now unemployed. It was among these elements that Fascism recruited quite a considerable contingent. The manner of its composition is also the reason why Fascism in some countries is of an outspoken, monarchist character. The second root of Fascism lies in the retarding of the world revolution by the treacherous attitude of the reformist leaders. Large numbers of the petty bourgeoisie, including even the middle classes, had discarded their war-time psychology for a certain sympathy with reformist socialism, hoping that the latter would bring about a reformation of society along democratic lines. They were disappointed in their hopes. They can now see that the reformist leaders are in benevolent accord with the bourgeoisie, and the worst of it is that these masses have now lost their faith not only in the reformist leaders, but in socialism as a whole. These masses of disappointed socialist sympathisers are joined by large circles of the proletariat, of workers who have given up their faith not only in socialism, but also in their own class. Fascism has become a sort of refuge for the politically shelterless. In fairness it ought to be said that the Communists, too – except the Russians – bear part of the blame for the desertion of these elements to the Fascist ranks, because our actions at times failed to stir the masses profoundly enough. The obvious aim of the Fascists, when gaining support among the various elements of society, must have been, as a matter of course, to try and bridge over the class antagonism in the ranks of their own adherents, and the so-called authoritative State was to serve as a means to this end. Fascism now embraces such elements which may become very dangerous to the bourgeois order. Nevertheless, thus far these elements have been invariably overcome by the reactionary elements.

The bourgeoisie had seen the situation clearly from the start. The bourgeoisie wants to reconstruct capitalist economy. Under the present circumstances reconstruction of bourgeois class domination can be brought about only at the cost of increased exploitation of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie is quite aware that the soft-speaking reformist socialists are fast losing their hold on the proletariat, and that there will be nothing for the bourgeoisie but to resort to violence against the proletariat. But the means of violence of the bourgeois States are beginning to fail. They therefore need a new organisation of violence, and this is offered to them by the hodge-podge conglomeration of Fascism. For this reason the bourgeoisie offers all the force at its command in the service of Fascism. Fascism has diverse characteristics in different countries.

Nevertheless it has two distinguishing features in all countries, namely, the pretence of a revolutionary programme, which is cleverly adapted to the interests and demands of the large masses, and, on the other hand, the application of the most brutal violence. The classic instance is Italian Fascism. Industrial capital in Italy was not strong enough to reconstruct the ruined economy. It was not expected that the State would intervene to increase the power and the material possibilities of the industrial capital of Northern Italy. The State was giving all its attention to agrarian capital and to petty financial capital. The heavy industries, which had been artificially boosted during the war, collapsed when the war was over, and a wave of unprecedented unemployment set in. The pledges given to the soldiers could not be redeemed. All these circumstances created an extreme revolutionary situation. This revolutionary situation resulted, in the summer of 1920, in the occupation of the factories. Upon that occasion it was shown that the maturity of the revolution makes its first appearance among a small minority of the proletariat. The occupation of the factories was therefore bound to end in a tremendous defeat instead of becoming the starting point for revolutionary development.

The reformist leaders of the trade unions acted the part of ignominious traitors, but at the same time it was shown that the proletariat possessed neither the will nor the power to march on towards revolution.

Notwithstanding the reformist influence, there were forces at work among the proletariat which could become inconvenient to the bourgeoisie. The municipal elections, in which the social democrats gained a third of all the councils, were a signal of alarm to the bourgeoisie, who immediately started to seek for a force which could combat the revolutionary proletariat. It was just at that time that Mussolini had gained some importance with Fascismo. After the defeat of the proletariat in the occupation of the factories, the number of the Fascisti was over 1,000 and great masses of the proletariat joined the Mussolini organisation. On the other hand, large masses of the proletariat had fallen into a state of indifference. The cause of the first success of the Fascisti was that it made its start with a revolutionary gesture. Its pretended aim was to fight to retain the revolutionary conquests of the revolutionary war, and for this reason they demanded a strong State which would be able to protect these revolutionary fruits of victory against the hostile interests of the various classes of society represented by the “old State.” Its slogan was directed against all the exploiters, and hence also against the bourgeoisie. Fascism at that time was so radical that it even demanded the execution of Giolitti and the dethronement of the Italian dynasty. But Giolitti carefully refrained from using violence against Fascism, which seemed to him to be the lesser evil. To satisfy these Fascist clamours he dissolved Parliament. At that time Mussolini was still pretending to be a republican, and in an interview he declared that the Fascist faction could not participate at the opening of the Italian parliament because of the monarchist ceremony accompanying it. These utterances provoked a crisis in the Fascist Movement, which had been established as a party by a merger of the Mussolini adherents and the representatives of the monarchist organisation, and the executive of the new party was made up of an even number of members from both factions. The Fascist Party created a double-edged weapon for the corruption and terrorisation of the working class. For the corruption of the working class the Fascist Trade Unions were created, the so-called corporations in which workers and employers were united. To terrorise the working class, the Fascist Party created the militant squads which had grown out of the punitive expeditions. Here it must be emphasised again that the tremendous treason of the Italian reformists during the general strike, which was the cause of the terrible defeat of the Italian proletariat, had given direct encouragement to the Fascists to capture the State. On the other hand, the mistakes of the Communist Party consisted in their regarding Fascism as merely a militarist and terrorist movement without any profound social basis.

Let us now examine what Fascism has done since the conquest of power for the fulfilment of its intended revolutionary programme, for the realisation of its promise to create a State without class. Fascism held out the promise of a new and better electoral law and of equal suffrage for women. The new suffrage law of Mussolini is in reality the worst restriction of the suffrage law to favour the Fascist Movement. According to this law, two-thirds of all the seats must be given to the strongest party, and all the other parties together shall hold only one-third of the seats. Women’s franchise has been nearly entirely eliminated. The right to vote is given only to a small group of propertied women and the so-called “war-distinguished” women. There is no longer any mention made of the promise of the economic parliament and National Assembly, nor of the abolition of the Senate which had been pledged so solemnly by the Fascists.

The same can be said about the pledges made in the social sphere. The Fascists had inscribed on their programme the eight-hour day, but the bill introduced by them provides so many exceptions that there is to be no eight-hour day in Italy. Nothing came also of the promised guarantee of wages. The destruction of the trade unions has enabled the employers to effect wage reductions of 20 to 30 per cent, and in some cases of even 50 to 60 per cent. Fascism had promised old age and invalid insurance. In practice the Fascist Government, for the sake of economy, has struck off the miserable 50,000,000 lire which had been set aside for this purpose in the budget. The workers were promised the right of technical participation in the administration of the factories. To-day there is a law in Italy which proscribes the factory councils completely. The State enterprises are playing into the hands of private capital. The Fascist programme had contained a provision for a progressive income tax on capital, which was to some extent to act as a form of expropriation. In fact the opposite was done. Various taxes on luxuries were abolished, such as the automobile tax, for the pretended reason that it would restrict national production. The indirect taxes were increased for the reason that this would curtail the home consumption and thus improve the possibilities for export. The Fascist Government also abrogated the law for the compulsory registration of transfers of securities, thus reintroducing the system of bearer-bonds and opening the door wide to the tax-evader. The schools were handed over to the clergy. Before capturing the State, Mussolini demanded a commission to inquire into war profits, of which 85 per cent were to be restored to the State. When this commission had become uncomfortable for his financial backers, the heavy industrialists, he ordered that the commission should only submit a report to him, and whoever published any of the things that transpired in that commission would be punished with six months’ imprisonment. Also in military matters Fascism failed to keep its promises.

The army was promised to be restricted to territorial defence. In reality, the term of service for the standing army was increased from eight months to eighteen, which meant the increase of the armed forces from 250,000 to 350,000. The Royal Guards were abolished because they were too democratic to suit Mussolini. On the other hand, the carabinieri were increased from 65,000 to 90,000, and all the police troops were doubled. The Fascist organisations were transformed into a kind of national militia, which by latest accounts have now reached the number of 500,000. But the social differences have introduced an element of political contrast in the militia, which must lead to the eventual collapse of Fascism.

When we compare the Fascist programme with its fulfilment we can foresee already to-day the complete ideological collapse of Fascism in Italy. Political bankruptcy must inevitably follow in the wake of this ideological bankruptcy. Fascism is unable to keep together the forces which helped it to get into power. A clash of interests in many forms is already making itself felt. Fascism has not yet succeeded in making the old bureaucracy subservient to it. In the army there is also friction between the old officers and the new Fascist leaders. The differences between the various political parties are growing. Resistance against Fascism is increasing throughout the country. Class antagonism begins to permeate even the ranks of the Fascists. The Fascists are unable to keep the promises which they made to the workers and to the Fascist Trade Unions. Wage reductions and dismissals of workers are the order of the day. Thus it happens that the first protest against the Fascist trade union movement came from the ranks of the Fascists themselves. The workers will very soon come back to their class interest and class duty. We must not look upon Fascism as a .united force capable of repelling our attack. It is rather a formation, which comprises many antagonistic elements, and will be disintegrated from within. But it would be dangerous to assume that the ideological and political disintegration of Fascism in Italy would be immediately followed by military disintegration. On the contrary, we must be prepared for Fascism to endeavour to keep alive by terrorist methods. Therefore, the revolutionary Italian workers must be prepared for further serious struggles. It would be a great calamity if we were satisfied with the role of spectators of this process of disintegration. It is our duty to hasten this process with all the means at our disposal. This is not only the duty of the Italian proletariat, but also the duty of the German proletariat in the face of German Fascism.

After Italy, Fascism is strongest in Germany. As a consequence of the result of the war and of the failure of the revolution, the capitalist economy of Germany is weak, and in no other country is the contrast between the objective ripeness for revolution and the subjective unpreparedness of the working class as great as just now in Germany. In no other country have the reformists so ignominiously failed as in Germany. Their failure is more criminal than the failure of any other party in the old International, because it is they who should have conducted the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat with utterly different means in the country where the working-class organisations are older and better organised than anywhere else.

I am firmly convinced that neither the Peace Treaties nor the occupation of the Ruhr have given such a fillip to Fascism in Germany as the seizure of power by Mussolini. This has encouraged the German Fascists. The collapse of Fascism in Italy would greatly discourage the Fascists in Germany. We must not overlook one thing: the prerequisite for the overthrow of Fascism abroad is the overthrow of Fascism in every single country by the proletariat of these countries. It behoves us to overcome Fascism ideologically and politically. This imposes enormous tasks on us. We must realise that Fascism is a movement of the disappointed and of those whose existence is ruined. Therefore, we must endeavour either to win over or to neutralise those wide masses who are still in the Fascist camp. I wish to emphasise the importance of our realising that we must struggle ideologically for the possession of the soul of these masses. We must realise that they are not only trying to escape from their present tribulations, but that they are longing for a new philosophy. We must come out of the narrow limits of our present activity. The Third International is, in contradistinction to the old International, an International of all races without any distinctions whatever. The Communist Parties must not only be the vanguard of the proletarian manual workers, but also the energetic defenders of the interests of the brain workers. They must be the leaders of all sections of society which are driven into opposition to bourgeois domination because of their interests and their expectations of the future. Therefore, I welcomed the proposal of Comrade Zinoviev (speaking at a session of the Enlarged Executive Committee of the Communist International in June of this year) to take up the struggle for the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government. I was jubilant when I read about it. This new slogan has a great significance for all countries. We cannot dispense with it in the struggle for the overthrow of Fascism. It means that the salvation of the wide masses of the small peasantry will be achieved through Communism. We must not limit ourselves merely to carrying on a struggle for our political and economic programme. We must at the same time familiarise the masses with the ideals of Communism as a philosophy. If we do this, we shall show the way to a new philosophy to all those elements which have lost their bearings during the historical development of recent times. The necessary prerequisite for this is that, as we approach these masses, we also become organisationally, as a Party, a firmly welded unit. If we do not do that, we run the risk of falling into opportunism and of going bankrupt. We must adapt our methods of work to our new tasks. We must speak to the masses in a language which they can understand, without doing prejudice to our ideas. Thus, the struggle against Fascism brings forward a number of new tasks.

It behoves all the parties to carry out this task energetically and in conformity with the situation in their respective countries. However, we must bear in mind that it is not enough to overcome Fascism ideologically and politically. The position of the proletariat as regards Fascism is at present one of self-defence. This self-defence of the proletariat must take the form of a struggle for its existence and its organisation.

The proletariat must have a well organised apparatus of self-defence. Whenever Fascism uses violence, it must be met with proletarian violence. I do not mean by this individual terrorist acts, but the violence of the organised revolutionary class struggle of the proletariat. Germany has made a beginning by organising factory “hundreds.” This struggle can only be successful if there is a proletarian united front. The workers must unite for this struggle regardless of party. The self-defence of the proletariat is one of the greatest incentives for the establishment of the proletarian united front. Only by instilling class-consciousness into the soul of every worker will we succeed in preparing also for the military overthrow of Fascism, which, at this juncture, is absolutely necessary.

If we succeed in this, we may be sure that it will be soon all up with the capitalist system and with bourgeois power, regardless of any success of the general offensive of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat. The signs of disintegration, which are so palpably before our eyes, give us the conviction that the giant proletariat will again join in the revolutionary fray, and that its call to the bourgeois world will be: I am the strength, I am the will, in me you see the future!

Perspective on the work stoppage at Bajaj

The nearly 50 day long tool down action at Bajaj’s Chakan plant was a landmark action by the workers of the Chakan industrial belt, both for it’s duration and the impact it has had in radicalizing the otherwise ‘peaceful’ situation at the Chakan industrial belt. The core issue of the struggle was over the ill-effects of the imposition of total productivity methods at Chakan modelled on the system at Maruti Suzuki and union busting tactics of the management at the Pantnagar plant.

The action at Chakan may be linked to the developments at the Pantnagar plant in Uttarakhand where the workers were deliberately denied from joining the Vishwa Kamgar Kalyan Sangathana ( VKKS ). The harrassment of workers at that plant led to the union at Chakan break the old agreement and make a fresh set of demands targetting an improvement of their working condition. The union leadership however, was limited from the start, by targeting shareholding in the company for workers as a ‘lasting’ means of improving worker’s wages. The leaflet distributed by the union expressed the ideological basis for their demand for shares, the belief in trusteeship, championed by Jamnalal Bajaj. This demand more than any other was what was highlighted by the union.

There were other issues as well. During the meetings, the question of condition of work for contract workers was raised more than once. Bajaj like every other major industry prefers the hiring of contract labor to use of permanent workforce. In the slump period in the auto industry, contract labor again gave way to the use of trainee workers. This together with the total productivity methods, squeezed out the highest possible productivity out of the workers at the plant, not to mention rendered them precarious owing to the contractual nature of work and the temporary or trainee status of the workers. However, the union did not raise these questions concretely in their charter of demands. On the contrary, the allotment of shares, which was stressed by the union, would only aid the management in exploiting the workers. With shareholding, the workers are tied in to the profits and losses of the company, and consequently, hostage to the policy of the management.

At no point was the tool down action directed towards more militant forms of protests like gheraos or factory occupations, or pickets. The result was that the company had a free hand in forcing the trainee workers to work overtime to compensate for production losses due to the tool down. Even though this was illegal, the union leadership preferred a legal course to tackling this than the more militant alternative of installing a gherrao of the factory. However, the enthusiasm of the young workers at the union ( their average age being 26 ), proved to be an inspiration for other workers to join in solidarity. The Shramik Ekta Mahasangh which was the umbrella body of industrial unions in the Chakan belt expressed their solidarity with the workers. However, no tool down action was taken by them.

All in all, the workers at Bajaj had to go on their own. The workers showed both determination and unity in carrying on the tool down action for more than 50 days beginning from the 25th of June till August 14th. This was all despite management tactics of harrassment and attempts to break the strike, not to mention, threats of shifting production away from the Chakan plant to neighboring Aurangabad. In the end the strike was ended ‘unconditionally’. The union leadership under has promised to ‘continue to press for the demands raised by the strike action including wage revision’.

Thus, the work stoppage action ended without any demands conceded, and a murky uncertain future awaits for the suspended workers. The management feels emboldened with its success in ending the struggle without any concessions made, and in potential for shifting production to any other plant in the country.

The unity of workers which has been building up albeit in a somewhat distorted manner since the general strike of 2010, has tremendous implications for the future of the worker’s movement. The Bajaj tool down action represents both the problems and the potential in mobilizing workers in India.

The larger picture :

Though the action at Bajaj ended without consequence, the significance of this work stoppage action can’t be ignored in the larger picture. Since the beginning of market reforms and what is generally called ‘neo-liberal’ growth, the condition of workers in India has become more and more precarious. Contractorization, casualization and rationalization of workforce in addition to privatizations of public companies have added to the burdens of the working class. The ‘boom years’ of the Indian economy also saw the birth of a new phase of class struggle, with the workers at Honda revolting. Soon after, the Gurgaon industrial belt became the scene of the most significant labor movement in recent times centered around Maruti. The rest of the country has not been immune to this. It was not too long since the workers at Mahindra’s Nasik plant struck work after the arrest of it’s union leadership there.

With worsening conditions of work, and the entry of millions upon millions of freshly proletarianized peasant populations ( people who’ve been rendered wage slaves due to loss of subsistence income from the countryside, pushed into the cities or factories to find work ), a new young working class has been created out of the most rebellious and desperate section of india’s populace. The increasing intensity of struggles, with frequent cases of workers turning violent, is an unsurprising outcome of the brutality of the system upon the lives of these populations. With shrinking stable job opportunities, owing to a stagnation of organized employment, most of these wage slaves end up with the worst kind of work in the unorganized sector, if not end up unemployed yet again.

The increase of this reserve labor has strengthened the ability of capitalists to impose their will upon the workers. It is not for no reason that the management at Bajaj could compensate the loss of man hours as easily with trainee workers. The system favored him, but the times are against him. The world crisis has affected india, and the problems of a proletarianizing economy founded on the systematic destruction of peasants and petty bourgeois, has come crashing in. Workers become more rebellious and there is an ever present danger of it becoming violent. The example of Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt stands as a warning before the greedy bourgeois.

With this new method of exploitation, there have been new movements of resistance against it. The movement for organizing contract workers for decent, secured job opportunities through their regularization, epitomizes this. The proliferation of contractorisation in Indian industry has given new impetus to the movement to organize contract workers. There is not a single major company where contractorisation has not taken roots, and consequently, there is an ever present struggle against the conditions which it brings about. This is one area which can combine the struggles of workers in private industry with those in public industry where contractorisation is emerging in a major way. Take the case of BSNL where almost 100000 workers work as ‘outsourced’ contract workers. But while the significance of the struggle seems obvious, the nature of the movement is restrained to a company specific approach. No focussed effort seems to be in place to create a movement of all workers against contractorisation uniting both public and private sector workers. Building such unity is the need of the day !

This is not unconnected with the developments in the public sector. The crisis has forced the government to aggressively target the public sector for increased privatizations. The results have been a spree of strike actions by workers against privatization. Coal India Ltd, BSNL, Neyvelli lignite have all been witness to workers protesting efforts at privatizing these companies. These have so far been successful in restraining any efforts at completing the privatizations of these companies. The question of contract workers and overall, the question of improving work conditions are not unrelated to this. Privatization brings with it a worsening of working conditions, and increasing precariousness of work. The workers of the public sector companies are essentially waging a defensive struggle against privatization and against losing the security that comes with state ownership. This stands in contrast with the actions in the private sector where existing conditions of work are being challenged.

The public sector is a fortress for the working class, and a lifeline for giving sustainable secured employment. It accounts for a majority of organized workforce in the country as well as being in the commanding height of the economy. Uniting the workers of these two sectors would strengthen the working class in their struggle against Indian capitalism. This would not be possible without the necessary political leadership.

Bhagat Singh’s message to Young Political Workers

On the occasion of the 72nd year of Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom, we present this letter addressed to Young Political workers. *( The said text has been extracted from marxists.org bhagat singh archive ) :

To The Young Political Workers.
DEAR COMRADES

Our movement is passing through a very important phase at present. After a year’s fierce struggle some definite proposals regarding the constitutional reforms have been formulated by the Round Table Conference and the Congress leaders have been invited to give this [Original transcription is unclear — MIA Transcriber]…think it desirable in the present circumstances to call off their movement. Whether they decide in favour or against is a matter of little importance to us. The present movement is bound to end in some sort of compromise. The compromise may be effected sooner or later. And compromise is not such ignoble and deplorable an thing as we generally think. It is rather an indispensable factor in the political strategy. Any nation that rises against the oppressors is bound to fail in the beginning, and to gain partial reforms during the medieval period of its struggle through compromises. And it is only at the last stage — having fully organized all the forces and resources of the nation — that it can possibly strike the final blow in which it might succeed to shatter the ruler’s government. But even then it might fail, which makes some sort of compromise inevitable. This can be best illustrated by the Russian example.

In 1905 a revolutionary movement broke out in Russia. All the leaders were very hopeful. Lenin had returned from the foreign countries where he had taken refuge. He was conducting the struggle. People came to tell him that a dozen landlords were killed and a score of their mansions were burnt. Lenin responded by telling them to return and to kill twelve hundred landlords and burn as many of their palaces. In his opinion that would have meant something if revolution failed. Duma was introduced. The same Lenin advocated the view of participating in the Duma. This is what happened in 1907. In 1906 he was opposed to the participation in this first Duma which had granted more scope of work than this second one whose rights had been curtailed. This was due to the changed circumstances. Reaction was gaining the upper hand and Lenin wanted to use the floor of he Duma as a platform to discuss socialist ideas.

Again after the 1917 revolution, when the Bolsheviks were forced to sign the Brest Litovsk Treaty, everyone except Lenin was opposed to it. But Lenin said: “Peace”. “Peace and again peace: peace at any cos t— even at the cost of many of the Russian provinces to be yielded to German War Lord”. When some anti-Bolshevik people condemned Lenin for this treaty, he declared frankly that the Bolsheviks were not in a position to face to German onslaught and they preferred the treaty to the complete annihilation of the Bolshevik Government.

The thing that I wanted to point out was that compromise is an essential weapon which has to be wielded every now and then as the struggle develops. But the thing that we must keep always before us is the idea of the movement. We must always maintain a clear notion as to the aim for the achievement of which we are fighting. That helps us to verify the success and failures of our movements and we can easily formulate the future programme. Tilak’s policy, quite apart from the ideal i.e. his strategy, was the best. You are fighting to get sixteen annas from your enemy, you get only one anna. Pocket it and fight for the rest. What we note in the moderates is of their ideal. They start to achieve on anna and they can’t get it. The revolutionaries must always keep in mind that they are striving for a complete revolution. Complete mastery of power in their hands. Compromises are dreaded because the conservatives try to disband the revolutionary forces after the compromise from such pitfalls. We must be very careful at such junctures to avoid any sort of confusion of the real issues especially the goal. The British Labour leaders betrayed their real struggle and have been reduced to mere hypocrite imperialists. In my opinion the diehard conservatives are better to us than these polished imperialist Labour leaders. About the tactics and strategy one should study life-work of Lenin. His definite views on the subject of compromise will be found in “Left Wing” Communism.

I have said that the present movement, i.e. the present struggle, is bound to end in some sort of compromise or complete failure.

I said that, because in my opinion, this time the real revolutionary forces have not been invited into the arena. This is a struggle dependent upon the middle class shopkeepers and a few capitalists. Both these, and particularly the latter, can never dare to risk its property or possessions in any struggle. The real revolutionary armies are in the villages and in factories, the peasantry and the labourers. But our bourgeois leaders do not and cannot dare to tackle them. The sleeping lion once awakened from its slumber shall become irresistible even after the achievement of what our leaders aim at. After his first experience with the Ahmedabad labourers in 1920 Mahatma Gandhi declared: “We must not tamper with the labourers. It is dangerous to make political use of the factory proletariat” (The Times, May 1921). Since then, they never dared to approach them. There remains the peasantry. The Bardoli resolution of 1922 clearly denies the horror the leaders felt when they saw the gigantic peasant class rising to shake off not only the domination of an alien nation but also the yoke of the landlords.

It is there that our leaders prefer a surrender to the British than to the peasantry. Leave alone Pt. Jawahar lal. Can you point out any effort to organize the peasants or the labourers? No, they will not run the risk. There they lack. That is why I say they never meant a complete revolution. Through economic and administrative pressure they hoped to get a few more reforms, a few more concessions for the Indian capitalists. That is why I say that this movement is doomed to die, may be after some sort of compromise or even without. They young workers who in all sincerity raise the cry “Long Live Revolution”, are not well organized and strong enough to carry the movement themselves. As a matter of fact, even our great leaders, with the exception of perhaps Pt. Motilal Nehru, do not dare to take any responsibility on their shoulders, that is why every now and then they surrender unconditionally before Gandhi. In spite of their differences, they never oppose him seriously and the resolutions have to be carried for the Mahatma.

In these circumstances, let me warn the sincere young workers who seriously mean a revolution, that harder times are coming. Let then beware lest they should get confused or disheartened. After the experience made through two struggles of the Great Gandhi, we are in a better position to form a clear idea of our present position and the future programme.

Now allow me to state the case in the simplest manner. You cry “Long Live Revolution.” Let me assume that you really mean it. According to our definition of the term, as stated in our statement in the Assembly Bomb Case, revolution means the complete overthrow of the existing social order and its replacement with the socialist order. For that purpose our immediate aim is the achievement of power. As a matter of fact, the state, the government machinery is just a weapon in the hands of the ruling class to further and safeguard its interest. We want to snatch and handle it to utilise it for the consummation of our ideal, i.e., social reconstruction on new, i.e., Marxist, basis. For this purpose we are fighting to handle the government machinery. All along we have to educate the masses and to create a favourable atmosphere for our social programme. In the struggles we can best train and educate them.

With these things clear before us, i.e., our immediate and ultimate object having been clearly put, we can now proceed with the examination of the present situation. We must always be very candid and quite business-like while analysing any situation. We know that since a hue and cry was raised about the Indians’ participation in and share in the responsibility of the Indian government, the Minto-Morley Reforms were introduced, which formed the Viceroy’s council with consultation rights only. During the Great War, when the Indian help was needed the most, promises about self-government were made and the existing reforms were introduced. Limited legislative powers have been entrusted to the Assembly but subject to the goodwill of the Viceroy. Now is the third stage.

Now reforms are being discussed and are to be introduced in the near future. How can our young men judge them? This is a question; I do not know by what standard are the Congress leaders going to judge them. But for us, the revolutionaries, we can have the following criteria:

1. Extent of responsibility transferred to the shoulders of the Indians.
2. From of the Government institutions that are going to be introduced and the extent of the right of participation given to the masses.
3. Future prospects and the safeguards.

These might require a little further elucidation. In the first place, we can easily judge the extent of responsibility given to our people by the control our representatives will have on the executive. Up till now, the executive was never made responsible to the Legislative Assembly and the Viceroy had the veto power, which rendered all the efforts of the elected members futile. Thanks to the efforts of the Swaraj Party, the Viceroy was forced every now and then to use these extraordinary powers to shamelessly trample the solemn decisions of the national representatives under foot. It is already too well known to need further discussion.

Now in the first place we must see the method of the executive formation: Whether the executive is to be elected by the members of a popular assembly or is to be imposed from above as before, and further, whether it shall be responsible to the house or shall absolutely affront it as in the past?

As regards the second item, we can judge it through the scope of franchise. The property qualifications making a man eligible to vote should be altogether abolished and universal suffrage be introduced instead. Every adult, both male and female, should have the right to vote. At present we can simply see how far the franchise has been extended.

I may here make a mention about provincial autonomy. But from whatever I have heard, I can only say that the Governor imposed from above, equipped with extraordinary powers, higher and above the legislative, shall prove to be no less than a despot. Let us better call it the “provincial tyranny” instead of “autonomy.” This is a strange type of democratisation of the state institutions.

The third item is quite clear. During the last two years the British politicians have been trying to undo Montague’s promise for another dole of reforms to be bestowed every ten years till the British Treasury exhausts.

We can see what they have decided about the future.

Let me make it clear that we do not analyse these things to rejoice over the achievement, but to form a clear idea about our situation, so that we may enlighten the masses and prepare them for further struggle. For us, compromise never means surrender, but a step forward and some rest. That is all and nothing else.

HAVING DISCUSSED the present situation, let us proceed to discuss the future programme and the line of action we ought to adopt. As I have already stated, for any revolutionary party a definite programme is very essential. For, you must know that revolution means action. It means a change brought about deliberately by an organized and systematic work, as opposed to sudden and unorganised or spontaneous change or breakdown. And for the formulation of a programme, one must necessarily study:

1. The goal.
2. The premises from where were to start, i.e., the existing conditions.
3. The course of action, i.e., the means and methods.

Unless one has a clear notion about these three factors, one cannot discuss anything about programme.

We have discussed the present situation to some extent. The goal also has been slightly touched. We want a socialist revolution, the indispensable preliminary to which is the political revolution. That is what we want. The political revolution does not mean the transfer of state (or more crudely, the power) from the hands of the British to the Indian, but to those Indians who are at one with us as to the final goal, or to be more precise, the power to be transferred to the revolutionary party through popular support. After that, to proceed in right earnest is to organize the reconstruction of the whole society on the socialist basis. If you do not mean this revolution, then please have mercy. Stop shouting “Long Live Revolution.” The term revolution is too sacred, at least to us, to be so lightly used or misused. But if you say you are for the national revolution and the aims of your struggle is an Indian republic of the type of the United State of America, then I ask you to please let known on what forces you rely that will help you bring about that revolution. Whether national or the socialist, are the peasantry and the labour. Congress leaders do not dare to organize those forces. You have seen it in this movement. They know it better than anybody else that without these forces they are absolutely helpless. When they passed the resolution of complete independence — that really meant a revolution — they did not mean it. They had to do it under pressure of the younger element, and then they wanted to us it as a threat to achieve their hearts’ desire — Dominion Status. You can easily judge it by studying the resolutions of the last three sessions of the Congress. I mean Madras, Calcutta and Lahore. At Calcutta, they passed a resolution asking for Dominion Status within twelve months, otherwise they would be forced to adopt complete independence as their object, and in all solemnity waited for some such gift till midnight after the 31st December, 1929. Then they found themselves “honour bound” to adopt the Independence resolution, otherwise they did not mean it. But even then Mahatmaji made no secret of the fact that the door (for compromise) was open. That was the real spirit. At the very outset they knew that their movement could not but end in some compromise. It is this half-heartedness that we hate, not the compromise at a particular stage in the struggle. Anyway, we were discussing the forces on which you can depend for a revolution. But if you say that you will approach the peasants and labourers to enlist their active support, let me tell you that they are not going to be fooled by any sentimental talk. They ask you quite candidly: what are they going to gain by your revolution for which you demand their sacrifices, what difference does it make to them whether Lord Reading is the head of the Indian government or Sir Purshotamdas Thakordas? What difference for a peasant if Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru replaces Lord Irwin! It is useless to appeal to his national sentiment. You can’t “use” him for your purpose; you shall have to mean seriously and to make him understand that the revolution is going to be his and for his good. The revolution of the proletariat and for the proletariat.

When you have formulated this clear-cut idea about your goals you can proceed in right earnest to organize your forces for such an action. Now there are two different phases through which you shall have to pass. First, the preparation; second, the action.

After the present movement ends, you will find disgust and some disappointment amongst the sincere revolutionary workers. But you need not worry. Leave sentimentalism aside. Be prepared to face the facts. Revolution is a very difficult task. It is beyond the power of any man to make a revolution. Neither can it be brought about on any appointed date. It is brought can it be brought about on an appointed date. It is brought about by special environments, social and economic. The function of an organized party is to utilise an such opportunity offered by these circumstances. And to prepare the masses and organize the forces for the revolution is a very difficult task. And that required a very great sacrifice on the part of the revolutionary workers. Let me make it clear that if you are a businessman or an established worldly or family man, please don’t play with fire. As a leader you are of no use to the party. We have already very many such leaders who spare some evening hours for delivering speeches. They are useless. We require — to use the term so dear to Lenin — the “professional revolutionaries”. The whole-time workers who have no other ambitions or life-work except the revolution. The greater the number of such workers organized into a party, the great the chances of your success.

To proceed systematically, what you need the most is a party with workers of the type discussed above with clear-cut ideas and keen perception and ability of initiative and quick decisions. The party shall have iron discipline and it need not necessarily be an underground party, rather the contrary. Thought the policy of voluntarily going to jail should altogether be abandoned. That will create a number of workers who shall be forced to lead an underground life. They should carry on the work with the same zeal. And it is this group of workers that shall produce worthy leaders for the real opportunity.

The party requires workers which can be recruited only through the youth movement. Hence we find the youth movement as the starting point of our programme. The youth movement should organize study circles, class lectures and publication of leaflets, pamphlets, books and periodicals. This is the best recruiting and training ground for political workers.

Those young men who may have matured their ideas and may find themselves ready to devote their life to the cause, may be transferred to the party. The party workers shall always guide and control the work of the youth movement as well. The party should start with the work of mass propaganda. It is very essential. One of the fundamental causes of the failure of the efforts of the Ghadar Party (1914-15) was the ignorance, apathy and sometimes active opposition of the masses. And apart from that, it is essential for gaining the active sympathy of and of and organising the peasants and workers. The name of party or rather,* a communist party. This party of political workers, bound by strict discipline, should handle all other movements. It shall have to organize the peasants’ and workers’ parties, labour unions, and kindred political bodes. And in order to create political consciousness, not only of national politics but class politics as well, the party should organize a big publishing campaign. Subjects on all proletens [Original transcription is unclear — MIA Transcriber] enlightening the masses of the socialist theory shall be wit in easy reach and distributed widely. The writings should be simple and clear.

There are certain people in the labour movement who enlist some absurd ideas about the economic liberty of the peasants and workers without political freedom. They are demagogues or muddle-headed people. Such ideas are unimaginable and preposterous. We mean the economic liberty of the masses, and for that very purpose we are striving to win the political power. No doubt in the beginning, we shall have to fight for little economic demands and privileges of these classes. But these struggles are the best means for educating them for a final struggles are the best means for educating them for a final struggle to conquer political power.

Apart from these, there shall necessarily be organized a military department. This is very important. At times its need is felt very badly. But at that time you cannot start and formulate such a group with substantial means to act effectively. Perhaps this is the topic that needs a careful explanation. There is very great probability of my being misunderstood on this subject. Apparently I have acted like a terrorist. But I am not a terrorist. I am a revolutionary who has got such definite ideas of a lengthy programme as is being discussed here. My “comrades in arms” might accuse me, like Ram Prasad Bismil, for having been subjected to certain sort of reaction in the condemned cell, which is not true. I have got the same ideas, same convictions, same convictions, same zeal and same spirit as I used to have outside, perhaps — nay, decidedly — better. Hence I warn my readers to be careful while reading my words. They should not try to read anything between the lines. Let me announced with all the strength at my command, that I am not a terrorist and I never was, expected perhaps in the beginning of my revolutionary career. And I am convinced that we cannot gain anything through those methods. One can easily judge it from the history of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. All our activities were directed towards an aim, i.e., identifying ourselves with the great movement as its military wing. If anybody has misunderstood me, let him amend his ideas. I do not mean that bombs and pistols are useless, rather the contrary. But I mean to say that mere bomb-throwing is not only useless but sometimes harmful. The military department of the party should always keep ready all the war-material it can command for any emergency. It should back the political work of the party. It cannot and should not work independently.

On these lines indicated above, the party should proceed with its work. Through periodical meetings and conferences they should go on educating and enlightening their workers on all topics. If you start the work on these lines, you shall have to be very sober. The programme requires at least twenty years for its fulfillment. Cast aside the youthful dreams of a revolution within ten years of Gandhi’s utopian promises of Swaraj in One Year. It requires neither the emotion nor the death, but the life of constant struggle, suffering and sacrifice. Crush your individuality first. Shake off the dreams of personal comfort. Then start to work. Inch by inch you shall have to proceed. It needs courage, perseverance and very strong determination. No difficulties and no hardships shall discourage you. No failure and betrayals shall dishearten you. No travails (!) imposed upon you shall snuff out the revolutionary will in you. Through the ordeal of sufferings and sacrifice you shall come out victorious. And these individual victories shall be the valuable assets of the revolution.

LONG LIVE REVOLUTION
2nd February, 1931