From Fourth International, vol.4 No.7, July 1943, pp.220-222.
Transcribed, marked up & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.
Good news from India – the Bolshevik-Leninist Party, Indian section of the Fourth International, lives and fights on despite the bestial repressions of British imperialism.
The totalitarian censorship and blockade seeks to cut off the Indian fighters for independence from communicating from one province to another, not to speak of reaching the outside world. Nevertheless, we have received the most precious kind of news from our Indian comrades – ten leaflets and a pamphlet published by them during the past year. The latest of them issued appears to be the leaflet issued for the January 26, 1943 Indian Independence Day celebration. From this it is clear that the organization was still able to function after six months of the worst white terror of British imperialism, during which tens of thousands of Indian revolutionists have been herded in prisons and concentration camps.
The leaflets and pamphlet are printed, and excellently so, which in itself is a testimonial to the efficiency of the Trotskyists of India, for nothing is more difficult under such conditions of illegality and military dictatorship than to maintain a good printing press establishment underground.
The pamphlet is a substantial 64 page publication of the Program of the party, dated 1942. Received here in an earlier draft in manuscript form, its main sections were published in the March, April and October 1942 numbers of Fourth International. It is a document of which the whole Fourth International may well be proud and testifies to the political maturity of the leadership of the Indian party.
Through the leaflets one can follow the response of the party to the revolutionary developments in India. One is a rounded political statement issued August 9, 1942, when the All-India Congress Committee ratified the resolution of its Working Committee to launch a mass civil-disobedience struggle. Several paragraphs from it will indicate the Trotskyist policy, on the one hand completely free from sectarianism, on the other hand firm and precise on principles:
“The decision of the Working Committee of the Indian National Congress to embark on a programme of struggle will be welcomed by the Indian masses ...
“Only the flunkeys of ‘democratic’ British Imperialism, like the Royists, or the agents of Stalin, the so-called Communists-Stalinists – can oppose mass struggle against imperialism ...
“The Bolshevik-Leninist Party of India welcomes the decision of the Congress to embark on some form of mass struggle, but deems it necessary to point out that nearly three years of fruitless vacillations and gestures were required before this decision ... In the coming struggle there must be no vacillation no compromise, Gandhiji has said that the struggle will be ‘short and swift.’ We do not wish the life of Imperialism to be prolonged by a single day. But we do not underestimate the forces of imperialism. In order to overthrow imperialism it is necessary to prepare for an exceedingly bitter and even protracted struggle.
“... But if British imperialism is to be overthrown, the masses in their millions must be drawn into the struggle ... Swaraj means little to the peasants if it does not mean the abolition of the curse of landlordism. For not only are the landlords among the most solid supporters of British rule in India, but their criminal record of oppression, extortion, and unbridled gangsterism over the unarmed peasantry has made them the most hated exploiters of India. The slogans of ‘Abolition of Landlordism without Compensation’ and ‘Cancellation of Peasant Debt’ must be leading slogans of the struggle. Not only no-tax campaigns against the government but also no-rent campaigns against all landlords, must be commenced on the widest possible scale, leading to the seizure of land by the peasants through Peasants Committees.
“Manning the nerve centers of the economy, the workers are in the position to deal the most devastating blows against imperialism ... A mass general political strike against British imperialism will paralyse and bring to a stop the whole carefully built up machinery of imperialist administration. The imperialists have been fully alive to the danger presented to them by the movement of the workers, and the heaviest and most savage blows of the repression have fallen on the workers and their leaders ...
“With the mobilization of a majority of the nation in this way, the position within the Army, which imperialism depends on as a last resort, will change in a matter of days. The Indian soldiers, who are peasants in uniform, cannot fail to be affected by the agrarian struggle against landlordism and imperialism ...
“We cannot, however, expect the Congress to lead a struggle of this nature. With regard to the peasantry in the 1930-33 movement Gandhiji openly stated that he had no intention of endangering Indian landlord interests. With regard to the workers, the Congress has studiously avoided the use of the strike weapon as a method of struggle against imperialism. Tied to the doctrine of non-violence, the Congress will never call upon the Indian Army to turn their arms against the imperialist exploiters. For the Congress, which is dominated by Indian bourgeois interests, in all critical situations acts as the instrument of the Indian bourgeoisie. And the Indian bourgeoisie – even the most nationalist sections of it, because they fear their interests will be in danger when the mass led by the workers take to revolutionary action-will strongly oppose the methods of struggle outlined above.”
The leaflet concludes with a section which warns the masses to be on guard against compromise, pledges support to “any mass action that the Congress may take against British imperialism” and confidently predicts:
“The movement started under the leadership of the Congress is bound to develop into channels other than those laid down for it. The revolutionary masses who are the main victims of imperialism are also its most virulent and uncompromising opponents, and will intervene to wage the struggle on the widest scale.”
Six months later, in its Independence Day leaflet, the Bolshevik-Leninist Party draws a balance sheet of the struggle, which says in part:
“The party supports the present mass struggle against British imperialism although it is led by Congress. But the party points out that the Congress did not prepare for the struggle, did not give the masses a program, and did not make the meaning of independence clear in terms of the live problems of the workers, peasants and middle classes. Last but not least Congress did not adopt revolutionary methods of struggle.
“These failures are not accidental. They unmistakably point to the inherent nature of the Congress. Dominated as it is by the propertied classes, it cannot but serve their interests ... Revolutionary struggle of the masses cannot develop without the struggle for the demands of the masses. But such a struggle will be directly against the interests of the capitalists. Hence it is that compromise with imperialism is the very anchor of the Indian capitalist class ... Nevertheless the struggle launched by the Congress against British rule has the potentiality of rousing the long pent up revolutionary energies of the masses. Hence the party supports the struggle. In order to raise the struggle to a full-fledged revolution, the working class must participate in and lead the struggle, with its own program, banner and methods.”
This leaflet, like practically all, emphasizes over and over again the central task of rousing the great masses of the peasantry by calling upon them to seize the land: “Independence can mean nothing to the peasantry if it does not mean land to the peasantry and the liquidation of their indebtedness.”
Summarizing the results of six months of struggle it records that the bestial repressions, “far from leading to demoralization, increases the volume of desperate discontent. The masses are reaching out for new methods of struggle. Ahimsa [non-violence] and the negative concept of paralyzing the government is giving way to mass violence and the concept of direct overthrow of the government.” And it warns: “In the face of this situation the bourgeoisie are openly revealing their compromisist tendencies. They find in the mass movement merely an excellent counter to drive a bargain with British imperialism.”
Almost all the leaflets deal with the Soviet Union and Stalinism, for the advanced workers and peasants in this predominantly agrarian country understand their kindship with the agrarian country where the first successful proletarian revolution was achieved. This intense sympathy with and interest in the Soviet Union has enabled the Stalinists, masquerading as followers of Lenin, to be of considerable aid to British imperialism in opposing the struggle for independence.
One leaflet, headed Defence the Soviet Union, explains why the only way to defend it is by revolutionary struggle against all the capitalists. Another, “25th Anniversary of the October Revolution,” explains how the Stalinist bureaucracy rose to power on the ebb of the revolutionary wave, but that “Despite the distortions the main social conquests of October remain” and must be defended. Other leaflets – “Peoples War” – Charlatanism or Stupidity, ;Stalinist Traitors Unmasked – expose the counter-revolutionary and chauvinist line of the Communist Party of India as “pimps and procurers” for British imperialism.”
Three of the leaflets are written for distribution to American and British soldiers in India. One of these, The Real Nature of the Anti-Fascist Peoples’ War, in explaining the imperialist character of the war on both sides, points out the significance of the events in Burma:
“The hide-bound conservative British were prepared to lose Burma to the fascists rather than give arms to the people. The British imperialist masters were more afraid of the independent action of colonial people than of the prospect of defeat at the hands of the imperialist rivals. What is more the Chinese soldiers, who offered their services for defending Burma, were not allowed to enter the country. It was only at the fag end of the battle of Burma that only one Chinese division was allowed to fight on Burmese soil and that too under an American General, Stillwell, who was foisted upon the Chinese army by the British imperialists. The obtuse British slave-owners could not brook the idea of the Asiatic peoples fighting under their own staff, side by side with the British, thus setting an example before the Burmese, who might emulate them and rise up and take advantage of the opportunity to gain their independence.”
The same leaflet, and another, bring to the American and British soldiers the news of the Nazi-US patent pools of Standard Oil, duPont, General Motors, etc. They “are still doing business with Hitler” while “trying to place the full burden of the war upon the masses both in America and in Britain” the leaflets explain.
Understanding how the anti-fascist sentiments of British and American workers are being perverted to serve the imperialists, one leaflet to American and British soldiers is headed: What is to be Done? Revolution the Only Way of Defeating Fascism.
Another leaflet, An Appeal to the Fighting Forces, tells the American and British soldiers why the Indian masses are revolting and urges them: “Do not be party to wholesale flogging and large scale lynching ... Join hands with the Indian comrades in their struggle against the common enemy – the imperialist exploiters.”
Apparently referring to events well-known to the soldiers themselves, one of these leaflets refers to the fact that “The American soldiers are already fraternizing with the Indian revolutionaries in Behar and Bombay.”
When Shachtman and Burnham, alleging that Russia was no longer a workers’ state and hence was undeserving of unconditional defense, led a group out of the Socialist Workers Party, they naturally attempted to make inroads into other national sections of the Fourth International. The solidity of the International’s theoretical and organizational foundations was triumphantly demonstrated by the fact that not a single national section followed the petty-bourgeois splitters, despite such extraordinary efforts as an elaborate South American tour made by an important Shachtmanite leader.
In May 1941, however, a small group of Uruguayans formed the Liga Socialist Internacionalista, which adopted an anti-defensist position on the Soviet Union. It was often featured in the Shachtman Workers Party press.
Last month, grown in size and experience, and renamed the Liga Obrera Revolucionaria, it wrote to announce a reconsideration of its position. After “long studies and discussion,” and “with greater understanding of the matters” it has decided that the existence of the nationalized economy determines the character of the USSR as a workers’ state, which therefore “must be unconditionally defended, as long as the economic foundation preserves the structure of socialized economy.” Of those who refuse to defend the USSR it says:
“The task of the revolutionary on the Marxist basis cannot consist in aiding the class enemies (the imperialists of no matter what flag) to destroy the first workers’ state, in order to defeat its counter-revolutionary leadership (Stalinism), but in defending it by all accessible means against its enemies,, both exterior and interior. It seems to us stupid to show oneself indifferent to the fate of the conquests of October because a counter-revolutionary camarilla has usurped the leadership.
“The danger of capitalist restoration in the USSR is not yet that restoration itself. In view of the immediate danger, the revolutionary does not abandon the field of battle to save the USSR, as the bridgehead of the world revolution.”
Drawing the necessary organizational conclusion from its present theoretical premises, the Liga Obrera Revolucionaria last month severed its official connection with the Shachtmanites and applied for membership in the Fourth International. In view of the existence in Uruguay of the Liga Bolchevique-Leninista, official section of the International, it is expected that fusion negotiations will be initiated in the near future.
Spurred by a rise in living-costs of 20 to 40 per cent whereas wage increases have rarely exceeded 10 per cent, the Argentine proletariat has been engaging in determined strikes for higher pay. As elsewhere, the class-collaborationist Stalinists have followed a strike-breaking policy. Now an April issue of the Fourth Internationalist fortnightly Frente Obrero, just arrived in New York, exposes a fantastic Stalinist attempt to find “theoretical” justification for their scab tactics in Lenin’s writings!
Against honest Communist Party rank-and-filers who refused to desert their union brothers, the Stalinist bureaucrat Victorio Codovilla launched a campaign accusing them of “economism.” “Economism” was a reformist deviation in Russia which tried to limit the revolutionary struggle to the “spontaneous” demands of workers for economic betterment, and fought the Leninist policy of political intervention into every field of struggle against Czarism and centralized organization on the basis of a principled program. Lenin attacked “economism” sharply in his What Is To Be Done? of 1902 and other writings of the period.
To the tail-ending trade unionism of “economism” Lenin counterpoised the broad political struggle for the revolutionary overthrow of Czarism; the Stalinist falsifiers counterpoise “national union,” i.e. a new name for Popular Frontism and its subordination of the proletariat to the “liberal bourgeoisie.” Lenin wanted to integrate trade union struggles into the broader political struggle; the Argentine epigones utilize his arguments for political struggle as a pretext for sabotaging the union struggle.
Since many new Stalinist policies have their try-out performance in Latin American countries, Fourth Internationalists must be on the alert in all countries to unmask and scotch this latest Stalinist falsification as our Argentine comrades have done.
There has just arrived from Buenos Aires a copy of a mimeographed Boletin Latino-Americano, the first publication after a long period of silence by the adventurer Quebracho. We publish below a statement on this adventurer made last September by the International Executive Committee of the Fourth International:
“The person named Quebracho has himself broken off all relations with the Fourth International, He has thereby demonstrated his inability to find his place in our movement. Like any one of us, Quebracho had complete freedom to defend his political concepts within our organization. But he was so lacking in any sense of revolutionary discipline that he did not even undertake to set forth his political ideas – if he had any – but chose rather to turn his back on our movement. His petty-bourgeois irritation against proletarian discipline then made Quebracho lose all equilibrium and to his desertion he added acts endangering members of our organization. The Executive Committee has demonstrated the greatest patience in trying to save Quebracho from himself, that is to say, from his bourgeois past. But today we must note that Quebracho has shown himself to be incapable of living and working in the revolutionary movement and has revealed himself as an adventurer who has nothing in common with our ideas and our methods.
“The E.C.of the F.I.”
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Last updated on 26.8.2008