Our differences with the Delhi comrades on the Kashmir issue

[ The text herein was printed in our 1st edition of the regular edition newsletter available locally. This is a part of our continuing open debates on Kashmir and the national question. We welcome the statement by the Delhi New Wave group on Kashmir as an important initiative to get the debate on this issue under way (the link to the text of the Delhi section is : http://new-wave-nw.blogspot.com/2010/11/resolution-on-present-situation-in.html ). We don’t fully agree with their statement and hope we have stated our position clearly enough to carry forward the discussion in and between the New Wave groups in a productive and comradely fashion. This document was published after 2 months of serious discussions and research on the Kashmir question and the question of National Liberation. We welcome any feedback on our texts on Kashmir and on the newsletter itself. ]

The National Question has been the subject of one of the most heated debates within the New wave. Recently, the debate sharpened with the Kashmir struggle as its focal point. On the 31st of October 2010, the Delhi section came out with a resolution on Kashmir which opposed the liberation movement of Kashmir on various grounds. We were opposed to this resolution and dissented by bringing out our own statement on Kashmir on the 6th of December. Our position was to unconditionally support the Kashmiri people in their struggle against the oppression of the Indian state.The National Question itself has always been a contentious issue for the left internationally. The National Question was developed and sharpened by Lenin and Trotsky in the early half of the twentieth century. Before them they had the rich experience of the Russian revolution where the National Question was posed14in the most complex manner. This is not to say that Lenin and Trotsky didn‘t face opposition. Among the spectrum of opposition to the Bolshevik Leninist Position was the sectarian approach towards National Liberation criticized harshly by Trotsky in his polemic on the Ukrainian question. We see many similarities between the position held by the sectarian wing of the 4th international at the time and the present position of the Delhi section.

We would like to specify the areas of disagreement with the Delhi comrades over the National Question.The following issues on the general idea of self determination:

1) The alleged dichotomy between right to self determination and secession:Lenin and Trotsky were very clear on this question and in this context the question of supporting and not supporting the fight of oppressed nationalities. For Lenin and Trotsky, the national question was of immense importance and was treated with the greatest sympathy and support towards oppressed nationalities. The question of the right of self determination was never divorced in the abstract from its realization even in the ultimate form of secession. The actual attitude of the Bolsheviks under Lenin and Trotsky is shown their treatment of the oppressed nationalities around Russia. Lenin supported the right to self determination ―up to secession‖. The comrades of the Delhi section however, opine the two may be separated and that the right to self determination may be supported without supporting secession even when the majority of the populace are decisively in favour of secession which today is the case in Kashmir. In our opinion it is meaningless and disingenuous not to support secession in actual practice when claiming to support it in words.

2) Position of the National Question in the wider historical Socialist Struggle:There is a reason why revolutionaries support the national struggles notwithstanding the obvious disadvantages in the formation of small nation-states. National liberation represents an unfinished task of the bourgeois democratic revolution and as it stands is of immense strategic importance for the revolution both on a national basis as well as on a global basis. For the success of the revolution it is of decisive importance to gain the support of the peasantry and petty bourgeoisie. Whilst the revolution we aim at is emphatically a socialist revolution establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat, bourgeois democratic goals nevertheless get entwined in this struggle where they are yet unresolved. Self determination for oppressed groups is one such key bourgeois democratic goal which in our epoch falls upon the shoulders of the proletariat for its resolution.For the success of the Socialist revolution it is imperative we secure the support of the non-proletarian classes of the peasantry and petty bourgeoisie. Support for the national struggle is as much a strategic/tactical question here as a question of principle. ―A country that oppresses can never itself be free‖. As long as the comrades of the Delhi section do not take the living dynamics of the historical class struggle into account, they are inevitably caught in an abstract view of the proletariat and consequently fail to understand the importance of National Struggles.

3) Confusing understanding of the socio-political forces in Kashmir and their roles:Whilst the above two areas of disagreement refer to more general and deep rooted differences of understanding over the national question, a more specific disagreement is over the understanding of classes and parties and their role in Kashmir. Firstly, confusion is created in the vague presentation of who or what precisely constitutes the ―Big Bourgeoisie‖ and where and how foreign capital comes in. To justify the confusion an abstract picture of an ―Asian game‖ is created in which Kashmir is a mere pawn.Weaker still is the exposition of the role of the Indian bourgeois and its oppressive role in Kashmir. The traditional Bolshevik treatment of an oppressor nation is the harshest possible condemnation of its oppression of weaker nations. The resolution not only fails to condemn the oppressive role of the Indian bourgeois in Kashmir — it fails to even mention the Indian bourgeoisie as the foremost oppressor in Kashmir. What is implicit in the whole resolution though not mentioned overtly is an implied condemnation of the whole struggle for freedom in favour of defending the interests of the Indian bourgeois. Such a stance is dangerously close to Dominant Nation Chauvinism. We share the disgust and anger of Lenin and Trotsky at Dominant Nation Chauvinism – here in the form of Indian chauvinism – and sharply criticize even the slightest hint of it. For this reason we are astonished that the resolution of the Delhi section fails to condemn the Indian bourgeoisie in the harshest terms.Finally, and this is very important for our own concrete intervention in the struggle in Kashmir, the confusions arising from the resolution are compounded by the absence of demands and the total lack of the transitional perspective essential to a Bolshevik Leninist approach.