M N Roy 1922
Taken from Communism in India – Unpublished Documents, edited by the late Subodh Roy. National Archives of India. The Gaya conference took place at the beginning of December 1922. The MS of the programme that MN Roy wrote may be the same as the one below from the Comintern. The following document found in the Security Service files was obviously intercepted by the security services copied and then may, or may not have been, sent on. – Note by transcriber Ted Crawford.
The Fourth Congress of the Communist International sends to you its heartiest greetings. We are chiefly interested in the struggle of the Indians to free themselves from British domination. In this historic struggle you have the fullest sympathy and revolutionary proletarian masses of the imperialist countries including Great Britain.
We communists are quite aware of the predatory nature of Western Imperialism, which brutally exploits the peoples of the East and has held them forcibly in a backward economic state, in order that the insatiable greed of capitalism can be satisfied. The infamous methods by which British imperialism sucks the life blood of the Indian people, are well known. They cannot be condemned too strongly; nor will simple condemnation be of any practical value. British rule in India was established by force and is maintained by force; therefore it can and will be overthrown only by a violent revolution. We are in favour of resorting to violence if it can be helped; but for self-defence, the people of India must adopt violent means, without which the foreign domination based upon violence cannot be ended. The people of India are engaged in this great revolutionary struggle. The Communist International is wholeheartedly with them.
The economic, social, and cultural progress of the Indian people demands the complete separation of India from imperialist Britain. To realise this separation is the goal of revolutionary nationalism. This goal, however, cannot be attained by negotiation nor by peaceful means. Imperial connection in any form stands for nothing less than the control of the destinies of the Indian people by and for the interests of British ruling class; at best this control will be exercised in conjunction with the motive upper classes. But the control will be there, obstructing the freedom of the nation.
Dislocation of world capitalist economy coupled with the strengthening of the world revolutionary nationalist movement caused by the awakening of the expropriated masses, is forcing imperialism to change its old methods of exploitation. It endeavours to win over the co-operation of the propertied upper classes by making them concessions. From the very beginning of its history the British Government found a reliable ally in the feudal land owing class, whose dissolution was prevented by obstructing the growth of higher means of production. Feudalism and its relics are the bulwark of reaction; economic forces, but give rise to the national consciousness of the people, cannot be developed without undermining their social foundation. So the forces that are inimical to British imperialism are, at the same time, dangerous to the security of the feudal lords and modern landed aristocracy. Hence the loyalty of the latter to the foreign ruler.
The immediate economic interests of the propertied upper classes, as well as the prosperous intellectuals engaged either in liberal professions or high Government offices too closely interlinked with the established order to permit them to favour a revolutionary change. Therefore, they preach revolutionary Nationalism whose programme is “self government within the Empire” to be realised gradually by peaceful and legal means.
This programme of constitutional democracy will not be opposed by the British Government for ever, since is does not interfere with the final authority of imperialism. On the contrary its protagonists are the potential pillars of imperial domination.
The policy of liberal imperialism heralded in 1909 by the Morley-Minto Reforms and inaugurated in 1919 by the introduction by the Government of India Act, will culminate sooner or later in Home Rule or Dominion status for India. The repetition of the fiasco of the Irish Free State and Egyptian “Independence” can be expected in India. Those who look upon any such eventuality as a solution of the national question are to be counted as the henchmen of imperialism. The movement led by the National Congress must rid itself of all such elements and be free from any illusion about a “change of heart” on the part of the British. The Indian people must be free or be crushed to death by British imperialism; there is no middle course. And the people of India will never liberate themselves from the present slavery without a sanguinary revolutionary struggle.
The social basis of a revolutionary nationalist movement cannot be all inclusive, because economic reasons do not permit all the classes to participate in it. Only those sections of the people, therefore whose economic interests cannot be reconciled with imperialist exploitation under any make-shift arrangement, constitute the backbone of your movement. These sections embrace the overwhelming majority of the nation, since they include the bankrupt middle classes, pauperised peasantry and the exploited workers. To the extent that these objectively revolutionary elements are led away from the influences of social reaction, and are freed from vacillating and compromising leadership, tied up spiritually and materially with the feudal aristocracy and capitalist upper classes, to that extent grows the strength of the nationalist movement.
The last two years were a period of mighty revolutionary upheaval in India. The awakening of the peasantry and of the proletariat struck terror in the heart of the British. But the leadership of the National Congress failed the movement in this intensely revolutionary situation.
The relation of the Communist International with the struggle of the oppressed peoples is inspired by revolutionary idealism, and based. upon mutual interests. Our sympathy and support are not confined to empty phrases couched in sweet words. We must stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of India in their struggle against imperialism; therefore we will fail in our revolutionary duty if we do not point out to you the mistakes that weaken the struggle and harm, the cause of Indian independence.
In leading the struggle for national liberation the Indian National Congress should keep the following points always in view.
1. That the normal development of the people cannot be assured unless imperialist domination is completely destroyed.
2. That no compromise with the British rulers will improve the position of the majority of the nation.
3. That the British domination cannot be overthrown, without a violent revolution and
4. That the workers and peasants are alone capable of carrying the revolution to victory.
Therefore, in order to declare its complete freedom from all connection with the reactionary upper classes, the National Congress should categorically declare that its political programme is the establishment of a Democratic Republic, completely independent of any foreign control. The vast majority of the nation that is the toiling masses, will rally round this progamme, since their present condition cannot be improved without a radical change in the existing system. Tireless and courageous agitation has to be carried on to win the masses for the cause of national liberation. The present spontaneous, mass upheaval provides a very fertile field of propaganda. The necessity of developing the revolutionary consciousness of the masses demands the adoption of an economic programme, in addition to the political programme of a republic to be established through a revolution. By leading the rebellious poor peasantry against the reactionary and loyalist land aristocracy, the Congress will on the one hand strike its roots deeply into the masses, and on the other, will assail the very bedrock of British rule. The native army, which maintains British domination in India, is recruited from among the poor peasantry. So a programme of agrarian revolution will win the native troops to the cause of national freedom.
In conclusion we express our confidence in the ultimate success of your cause which is the destruction of British imperialism by the revolutionary might of the masses.
Let us assure you again of the support and co-operation of the advanced proletariat of the world in this historic struggle of the Indian people.
Down with British Imperialism. Long Live the Free people of India.
With fraternal greetings,
Presidium of the Fourth Congress of the