From Fourth International, vol.5 No.10, October 1944, pp.309-314.
Transcribed, marked up & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.
he movement commenced on August 9, 1942. The masses of Bombay and other cities and towns of India rose spontaneously to express their bitterness and indignation against the Government at the arrest of the Congress leaders. They broke through the shell of non-violence in which the Mahatma and the Congress creed has imprisoned them for so long and proved to an astonished world that the masses of India are revolutionary. In Bombay, the masses went about the streets stopping buses, trams and even trains. The college students struck work and went about appealing to the workers in the buses, trams and trains to stop running them. By evening of the following day (Monday) small barricades, crudely constructed, appeared in the streets of some parts of the city, sufficient to obstruct the movement of the motor vehicles of the police and military. Soon the masses, intoxicated by their initial successes, attacked police stations, railway stations and other seats of government power. The demonstrations were spontaneous. The masses acted spontaneously under the leadership of chance leaders. The most active, courageous and determined in the crowd became its leaders.
The masses had complete possession of the streets and squares (circles) on Monday and Tuesday. The police were no longer able to control the masses and their activities. The military appeared in the streets on Tuesday evening. A curfew was enforced. Armed lorries and even tanks patrolled the streets. By Wednesday evening, August 12, the streets and squares of the city were “recaptured” by the military and the armed police. Many were killed by the lathi charges, firing by the police and military, and in the street fighting generally. A clash took place in Parel – with casualties on both sides – between armed troops and workers on strike. This was the only important incident in which the Bombay workers actively participated in the eventful days of August. But it was more in the nature of an overflow from the petty bourgeoisie locality of Dadar, and the leadership was in the hands of Congressmen.
Many mills in Bombay were closed – largely by the Congress mill owners. Workers in other mills kept away for a few days, but they soon returned to work. Even the Congress-controlled mills soon opened. The strikes in a number of smaller workshops dragged on. The working class of Bombay did not actively participate in the mass movement in the most critical days in August. The mass movement was largely confined to the petty bourgeois masses. How is this to be explained? The Bombay workers had the experience of two terrible years of a Congress Government in the Province. Its record of anti-working class legislation was still fresh in their minds. The Congress leaders and their program did not inspire confidence in them. There were other factors at work too. Even though the cost of living was going up, there was plenty of work. There was very little unemployment. Family earnings in the aggregate were higher than in the “old days.” The Royists and their trade unions in the Indian Federation of Labor and the Stalinists and the Servants of India people in the Trade Union Congress all condemned the struggle and asked workers not to participate in it. Added to these factors which acted as a brake on their urge to support the movement was their loyalty to the workers of the Soviet Union in their war. By clever propaganda the Stalinists have sowed confusion in the minds of the workers who displayed such a high degree of class consciousness and political maturity in the anti-war strike of October 1939.
From Monday, August 10, the movement began to spread from province to province. The immense reserves to revolutionary energy of the masses broke out everywhere without plan or system. The movement spread out over an unlimited field from Peshawar to Cape Comorin and from Karachi to the borders of occupied Burma. At Bangalore in Mysore the mass movement rose to a very high pitch. The students were the spearhead of the attack on Indian feudal power and British imperialism. The workers in the mills, mines and workshops of Mysore actively supported the petty bourgeois masses who launched a series of attacks on the Government of the Indian Prince and the British Raj. They were driven back by the troops and the armed police. Many were shot dead, more sustained injuries. But the ferment continued for weeks.
In Tamil Nad and Andhra areas the peasantry and the city petty bourgeois masses displayed tremendous vigor, resourcefulness and readiness to struggle. In Tenali, Ramnad, Madras, Coimbatore and Madura the working class supported the movement by strike action. Kerala held aloof from the struggle. (This is the Stalinist stronghold in the South.) But even in this area the masses are beginning to join the struggle and Stalinist meetings and demonstrations have been broken up by violent crowds. From the Karnatak areas of Madras and Bombay daily reports pour in of attacks on railway stations, post offices and other government institutions. In the Deccan and the South of India the masses are bristling with discontent.
In the Central Provinces and Berar the mass movement carried everything before it in the first week of the struggle. In this region the Stalinists have absolutely no influence over the working class. The reformist trade union leader Ruikar controls the working class organizations here. The Congress in this area was very strongly supported by the Forward Bloc and the trade unions. The workers in the Nagpur mills and in all the cities and towns of the Central Provinces went on strike in support of the mass movement led by the Congress. But the working class did not step into the movement with their program, banner and slogans. They were drawn into the movement by the petty bourgeoisie who hold Congress politics. Thus a splendid opportunity was lost. The working class supported the petty bourgeois masses in revolt, but there was no genuine working class revolutionary party to lead them for a frontal attack on imperialism, which would have brought the petty bourgeois masses of this region under their leadership. The peasant areas of the Central Provinces were in active revolt. The government had to recapture the rural areas by sending “armies of occupation.” The Chimur incidents are yet fresh in the public mind. The atrocities committed by the troops of imperialism are by no means less revolting than the atrocities of the Nazi thugs in Eastern Europe.
By the third week of August the whole of Bihar, parts of the United and Central Provinces, and even portions of Bengal and Orissa were in a state of virtual rebellion. In these areas the civil administration of the government broke down. Particularly was this the position in the rural areas of these provinces. Bihar was the storm-center. In scattered parts of Bihar the peasantry set up “Swaraj governments.” Their jurisdiction never extended over more than a few villages. And they never lasted more than a few days. But these ephemeral “peasant governments” that appeared in the most semi-feudal and landlord-ridden areas of rural India tell us which way the wind is blowing. It is true that “those peasant embryonic states” that floated on the rising crest of the mass movement acknowledged the leadership of the Indian bourgeoisie by calling them “Congress Raj.” But that does not minimize the fundamental significance of these phenomena; manifesting in India from the first week of the struggle. They tell us that the peasantry was up and its mighty limbs were quivering. The Stalinist-controlled Kisan Sabha was unable to hold back the heavy peasant masses. It was unable to prevent them from marching to the assistance of the town petty bourgeoisie. Despite the propaganda of the Stalinist Kisan Sabha the peasants joined the struggle. They were active participants in it.
The Jamshedpur metal workers and the Jharia coal-field workers went on strike in sympathy with the masses in revolt. The Royists and the Stalinists who have been given every encouragement by the government to work in these places exerted all their energy to lead the workers back to the workshops and mines. But the metal and coal-field workers put up a determined struggle till they were starved out and compelled to surrender to superior arms. Their leadership in the critical days was in the hands of the Indian bourgeoisie in the Congress. Their slogans never went beyond the usual bourgeois slogans of the Congress: “Release of the Congress leaders” and “National Government.” No independent working class program, banner and slogans appeared to show them the way out of the crisis. They fell a prey to the chauvinist and class-collaborationist propaganda of the Congress bourgeoisie. Their will to struggle was fettered and paralyzed. They did not know the line of march, where to strike and how to strike at the enemy. They thought the Congress bourgeoisie was their friend. They made no serious effort to understand the peasant struggle that was raging in the countryside. While confusion, hesitation and doubt reigned in the leadership of the struggle at Jamshedpur and Jharia, the imperialists struck and struck hard at the movement. British troops with tanks, airplanes and all the paraphernalia of modern warfare were massed and the mass movement was forced to retreat and acknowledge temporary defeat. The imperialists not only terrorized the masses by a display of armed might, but even tanks and airplanes were used to machine-gun the peasant masses in Bihar and the neighboring provinces.
Had there been a working class revolutionary party at Jamshedpur during the critical days of August to show the workers the path of struggle clearly and concretely, the mass struggle that commenced in Bombay on the arrest of Mahatma Gandhi and the members of the Working Committee of the Congress might have taken a different turn. It is only in concrete action that the working class can win the leadership of the petty bourgeois masses. Jamshedpur provided a splendid opportunity to the working class to wrest this leadership from the Indian bourgeoisie in the Congress. Perhaps the working class will learn from the mistakes they committed in Jamshedpur before the next wave of the mass movement draws them into the struggle again. There is one important fact that we must remember. The masses once mobilized should at once be thrown into the offensive. You cannot keep the masses under mobilization for a long time. If the mobilized masses are not led into the offensive, then the waverers, the grumblers, the timid begin to influence the masses and they scatter even before the enemy strikes the first blow. It is the duty of organizers of revolution to see that the mobilized masses are thrown into the struggle when the mass movement is at its peak. At this stage the waverers, doubters and even timid join the struggle if the leadership is courageous and bold in launching the offensive against the enemy.
At the most critical hour in the first phase of the mass struggle, the Congress High Command in Bombay did not know its own mind. The Congress Socialists who stepped into the breach on the arrest of the Congress leaders were more interested in pleasing the Bombay bourgeoisie than in waging a serious and determined struggle against a ruthless and experienced enemy – British imperialism. This was to be expected.
The Congress Socialist Party has always been a petty bourgeois party – in membership as well as in politics. In the most critical days of the struggle, when they were in a position to influence the development of events by a courageous and bold lead, they did not inspire the masses or the organizers of the mass struggle to preserve and raise the struggle to a higher pitch by galvanizing into active political life the working class, by setting out before them a bold and concrete program of action to improve their conditions and at the same time to intensify the mass struggle with the powers of organization, sacrifice and energy that the working class is capable of when it is really roused. From the commencement of the struggle in August, the CSP has displayed political bankruptcy. True to its petty bourgeois character, the CSP is a servile tool of the Indian bourgeoisie. It has dissolved itself in the Congress. It has neither an organization nor a program. New problems in an extraordinarily rapidly changing situation demand solutions. Parties and groups are judged by deeds, not words.
Though the mass movement has been compelled to retreat in many districts of Bihar, peasant resistance still continues. The movement spread from Bihar to the Southern portions of the United Provinces and the eastern districts of the Central Provinces. It swept over Orissa into the Andhra districts of Madras. In the Santhal regions of Bihar and Orissa it is still raging. In these predominantly peasant areas in which semi-feudal landlordism still rules over the peasantry ground down by rent, taxes and extortionate interest rates, the struggle is flaring up into peasant revolts. The unequal exchange between the city and the country has reduced peasant economy to the breaking point. The peasant has to pay exorbitant prices for the articles he purchases. He gets only a small fraction of the price that agricultural commodities really sell at. Moreover the control of the prices of agricultural commodities by the government has prevented even the normal rise in prices of agricultural commodities. The “blades of the scissors” are widening daily. The gulf between agricultural and industrial prices is yawning wider and wider. The imposition of collective fines might be the “last straw that will break the camel’s back.” An agrarian crisis of the first magnitude is maturing in the countryside. All objective factors are quickening the process of its maturity. The civil disobedience movement has roused the peasantry from its age-long stupor.
Bengal and Assam were slow in joining the movement. The students are in the front rank of the struggle in these provinces. But the petty bourgeoisie are being slowly drawn into it. The working class has not played a very prominent part in the first three and a half months of the struggle. In these provinces the differences between the Forward Bloc and the Congress have been resolved in the field of mass activity. The underground organization of the Congress has virtually passed into the hands of the Forward Bloc. The Revolutionary Socialist Party – a National Revolutionary Party under a Socialist flag – is cooperating with the Forward Bloc in intensifying the mass struggle and drawing into it the declassed intelligentsia. In Bengal and Assam the peasantry is being drawn into the mass struggle.
Everywhere the heavy hand of repression has descended on the masses with ruthless brutality. Shooting, whipping, arrests, imprisonments are the normal routine of the imperialist administration today. Collective fines have been added to taxes that the peasantry have to pay. The police forces of imperialism have increased in numbers. They are armed with very wide powers. Military units have been stationed in all the principal cities and towns of India – and even in a great many villages. The forces of liberation are daily training their reserves. Armed bands and guerrilla fighters are operating over widely scattered areas. They are ill-equipped and scarcely trained. But they can count on the enthusiastic support of the masses of town and country. Bomb manufacturers and bomb throwers are increasing in numbers daily. The trade hartal as an effective weapon has been discarded. In a word, “sabotage” has taken the central place in the struggle during the last two months.
The movement as yet is led by the nationalist bourgeoisie. The fact that the Indian National Congress is a mass organization should not blind us to the sinister class character of that body. The INC is the political party of the Indian bourgeoisie. The presence of honest revolutionary elements inside the Congress does not and will not make it a revolutionary body. The Congress will not take the revolutionary road. Under the conditions of modern imperialism the colonial bourgeoisie cannot be a revolutionary class. It can fight for the overthrow of British imperialism in order to become the puppet of Japanese, German or American imperialism. Wendell Willkie’s broadcast on “war aims” is significant. The more aggressive section of the American capitalist class desires the liquidation of the British Empire. They prefer to trade with a “Free India.” “Dollar Diplomacy” is conscious of its strength and is anxious to see that all trade and tariff barriers in the colonial empire of Britain are removed in the course of this war. That is the reason why the more conscious and far-sighted leaders of Wall Street are ready to support the demand of the Indian bourgeoisie for “independence” from Britain.
The Indian bourgeoisie, a historically belated class, is doomed to servility. It can change its masters. But it can never be master in its own house. Whether it will fight the British to a finish and sever its connections with the British Empire completely will be determined by the development of the imperialist world war and the attendant changes in the international situation. It will not be determined mainly by events in India. If the mass movement develops rapidly and the peasant masses rally round the Red Flag of the working class to fight Imperialism to a finish, then its counter-revolutionary countenance will be lighted by the fires that will rage in the cities and country districts of India.
The Congress cannot overthrow imperialism. It cannot give “National Independence” to the masses of India. Its politics is “pressure politics.” The Congress wants the British to set up a “National Government.” The bourgeoisie is not fighting to overthrow British imperialist power for the purpose of setting up a “national government” of its own, unless developments in the war make them the servile tools of Japanese, German or American imperialism. That is why it has not burnt all the bridges that lead it back to Whitehall. That is the secret of Mr. Rajagopalachari’s uniquitous pilgrimages. Rajagopalachari is the unofficial ambassador of the nationalist bourgeoisie, trying to bring about a settlement between the Congress and the Government. The nationalist bourgeoisie that “grumbles at those above and trembles in face of those below” cannot be expected to carry on a revolutionary struggle for the overthrow of British imperialism. Those honest activists who have thrown themselves heart and soul into the movement now raging in the country should remember this fundamental fact.
The Forward Bloc represents the most aggressive action of the Indian capitalist class, still emerging from its petty bourgeois origin. It is very closely tied to the petty bourgeoisie of city and country – even to the upper layers of the petty landlords and the prosperous stratum of the peasantry. The differences between the Forward Bloc and the Congress have been resolved in the actual field of mass struggle. In many parts of Eastern and Central India the underground organization of Congress has passed into its hands. The political party with its exiled leader – Subhas Chandra Bose – is in favor of a complete severance of all connections with the British Empire. It believes that an Axis victory will give India “freedom” “National Independence.” It has supported the struggle and is energetically organizing the movement.
The Liberals of the “No-Parties” or the “Knights’ Conference” are trying to fish in troubled waters. Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru believes that where Rajaji failed he might succeed. He is converting the “No-Parties Conference” into an “All-Parties Conference” by the addition of Rajaji and V. Savarkar, the militant president of the Hindu Maha Sabha. The Liberals are the party of the extreme Right Wing of the Indian big bourgeoisie – which is tied to British finance capital by bonds of gold. A settlement with it cannot widen appreciably the base on which British imperialism rests in India to weather the mass storm.
The Muslim League represents the feudal princes and semi-feudal Muslim landlords of India. They are the most reliable and abiding allies of British imperialism in this country. It is true that wide sections of the petty bourgeoisie and even backward sections of the working class are flocking to the feudal banner of Mr. Jinnah and the Muslim League. The Stalinists have helped and accelerated this process of strengthening the mass basis of the Muslim League by the specious campaign of Congress-League unity. The Muslim League, despite its recently acquired mass character, remains to this day a semi-feudal body covering its hideous class character by sowing confusion in the minds of the Muslim masses by its religio-communal propaganda for a Pakistan. It is the strongest prop of the tottering British Empire in India. It has condemned the struggle from the commencement. It is interested in carving up India into feudal principalities. However, the advanced section of the Muslim bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia are supporting the Congress movement and have taken their stand in the Azad Muslim Conference – led by Allah Bux, the ex-premier of Sind. The Ahrars are wholeheartedly supporting the mass movement. Their activities are, however, confined to the Punjab. In the North-West Frontier Province, a predominantly Muslim Province, the Muslim masses are solidly behind the Congress movement.
The attitude of the Hindu Maha Sabha to the mass movement has puzzled the supporters of the struggle. But those who understand the class character of this religio-communal body which attempts to recreate in twentieth century India the “glorious past of pre-feudal and feudal Hindustan” need not be astonished at the politics of this organization. The Hindu Maha Sabha is the political party of the Hindu Princes and landlords of India. Its opposition to British imperialism is largely a reaction to the close alliance between the Muslim League and British imperialism. It has, however, roused pan-Asiatic sentiments in their Hindu youth, but these are directed mainly against the Muslim League idea of dividing India into petty principalities. Being the majority community the Hindu feudalists are anxious to have a Hindu dominated India just as the Muslim landlords desire Muslim domination in those parts of India in which their numbers give them easy dominance. Fundamentally their class character is the same. There is nothing to prevent the Hindu Maha Sabha coming to terms with the Muslim League. British imperialism is likely to bring them together if the situation is not complicated by a Japanese invasion of India. The Maha Sabha is supported by the princes in the Indian States.
“So far as the Indian States are concerned it is the additional aim of the party to establish healthy relations between the rulers and the ruled” declares the Manifesto of the Hindu Forward Bloc – the militant section of the Hindu Maha Sabha (The Mahratta, p.5, November 6, 1942). The Maha Sabha has stood aloof from the struggle. It still adheres to its policy of responsive cooperation with British imperialism. It is clear that this policy has its class roots in the Hindu Princes and landlords of India. That the Maha Sabha is making frantic efforts to enter the Viceroy’s council and call it a “National Government” is proved by the repeated pilgrimages of its leaders to New Delhi since the beginning of August.
During the last two years the Hindu Maha Sabha has gained in numbers as well as in fighting strength. Numbers of the petty bourgeoisie youth, disillusioned with the policy of the Congress, are rallying round the banner of V. Savarkar in the Hindu Maha Sabha. The Maha Sabha has a strong appeal to the youth of the upper strata of the village population. Its volunteer organization – the RSS – is a fairly formidable one. It is already displaying signs of fascism by its pronounced antagonism to working class politics. Fascist ideology in colonial countries gives a ready camouflage to landlord interests – to semi-feudal institutions even more than to capitalism. We are more likely to see fascism springing from the Muslim League and the Hindu Maha Sabha than from the ranks of the Congress in the near future. The Khaksars and the RSS volunteers are more likely to be the “Storm Troops” of the counter-revolution in India than the fighting units of the Congress. A united front between the Muslim League, Hindu Maha Sabha and the Sikh League of the Sikh landlords of the Punjab with the support of the Princes and the Liberals (the No Parties Conference which has transformed itself into an All-Parties Conference), is likely to form the “National Government” that the Stalinists have been clamoring for. The “settlement” must of necessity be a short-lived one. It can be only a “stop-gap” government in support of British imperialism before the masses regroup their forces under the leadership of the working class for the last and final assault on British imperialism.
The Royists condemn the struggle “lock, stock and barrel.” They give unconditional support to British imperialism in this Imperialist World War.
“Being engaged in a war against the Axis powers, the Government of India must be a party to the India civil war” declared M.N. Roy. “It must declare war upon the forces of reaction in this country ... The Government on the other hand is on the side of the people. The battle is joined between the forces of progress and of reaction, of revolution and counter-revolution, in the international as well as the national arena. Let the battle be fought. Let people choose their side.” (Independent India, November 2, 1942).
Roy is quite clear and emphatic that the masses and the Congress in their struggle are on the side of reaction and counter-revolution, whereas the Government of India is on the side of progress, nay revolution. So Roy supports the Government and fully endorses British imperialist terror and repression in suppressing the mass movement. After all, does he not ask the Government of India to declare war on the masses in this struggle? The campaign of shooting, whipping, arrests, imprisonments and collective fines on the petty bourgeois masses of town and country is fully supported by Roy and his party, the Radical Democratic Party of India. As to repression of working class activities! Well! Like the proverbial ostrich Roy buries his head in the sand and repeats to himself with all the fervor of a Coue that there is no working class in India. His chelas repeat the master’s formula as an objective truth and there the matter ends. To Roy and his underlings there is no working class in India, though it has been in the womb of Indian society from about the nineties of the last century. It was a lusty child at the beginning of the century. Roy does not see the need for a working class party or for working class politics in India. He is re-writing Marxism. He has hired out his able pen to British imperialism. His revised version of Marxism and his flunkeyism in the service of Whitehall may appeal to the most servile and opportunist elements of the intelligentsia but they have lost all meaning and appeal either to the masses or to all honest revolutionaries. If Roy regains again his mass following it will be in the role of an Indian Doriot and not as a leader of the working class or even as a national revolutionary leader. Roy had a past – hat of a revolutionary. At present he is the lap-dog of British imperialism in India. His future can be only that of a fascist leader. His idealization of the petty bourgeoisie is an index to his future. The Twentieth Century Jacobins of his dreams can be only fascists in India.
The Communist Party of India has played a treacherous and ignoble role ever since the entry of the Soviet Union into the war compelled the Stalinists in this country to support British imperialism. They moved heaven and earth to prevent Congress coming to a decision to launch a mass civil disobedience movement. At the meeting of the AICC in Bombay, all the Stalinist amendments to the main resolution for launching the struggle were designed to side-track the main issue of struggle by raising the question of a communal settlement. They were defeated. When the struggle commenced, they remained indoors enjoying their newly-won freedom of a “legal existence” for the CP of India. On the 11th of August, P.C. Joshi, the party boss came out with the nauseating and double-faced statement in the press.
It was impossible to face the masses without condemning government repression and asking for the release of Congress leaders. But Joshi made it quite clear in his statement that the CP of India did not support the mass struggle. It attempted to divert mass attention to peaceful and constitutional negotiation by raising the issue of a settlement with British imperialism for the purpose of setting up a “National Government.” Surely, the Stalinists are aware that a national government can be set up by the victorious democratic masses only on the overthrow of British imperialism. Don’t they know that British imperialism cannot and will not relinquish its power in India? That it will not abdicate in favor of the Indian masses? The “National Government” the Stalinists are demanding is really a united front between the Congress bourgeoisie and the feudalists in the Muslim League in support of British imperialism for the purpose of exploiting the masses of India.
After the first wave of the mass movement was over the Stalinists foisted on an unwilling public a campaign of unity. It was really a cleverly designed campaign in support of the imperialist war.
“Behind the national demand for a National Government,” declares the Manifesto of the Communist Party of India (People’s War, October 4, 1942), “is growing the All-National Front of the Indian people, from Sir T.B. Sapru on the right, of the Communist Party on the left, embracing Merchants’ Chambers, trade unions, Kisan Sabhas, students’ organizations – all desiring Congress-League unity to be the axis of our national united front.”
The Stalinists are trying to ignore the class struggle by asking the capitalists in the Merchants’ Chambers to unite with the workers in the trade unions, the zamindars in the Muslim League with the peasants in the Kisan Sabhas. The exploited workers and peasants are asked to support the exploiters – he capitalists and the landlords, for the purpose of building an “All-National Front” which is to be guarded for British imperialism by Sir R.B. Sapru on the Right and P.C. Joshi and his cheer-leaders on the Left.
The workers are reminded that “to keep up production is their patriotic duty”! The peasant is asked to build the “unity of the village, to keep off anarchy and keep the peace.” He is to cooperate with the merchants and landlords for the purpose of controlling “food prices and solving other problems.” The Stalinists want unity in the village between the peasant masses and the landlord-exploiters. They are asking the peasants to preserve the “peace in the village,” that imperialist peace which is responsible for their misery, that peace which has driven them to the verge of revolt. This is their solution for the accumulated ills of the peasantry – of chronic indebtedness, of land hunger, of exorbitant rents, of extortionate interest rates, and of all the burden of heavy taxes. The Stalinists refuse to admit that it is these very causes that are driving the peasantry to revolt against the government and the existing social order. The Stalinists cannot read the signs of the times. The question is not one of “preserving the peace” and “keeping off anarchy from the village” but one of fanning the flames of the scattered peasant revolts to a mighty conflagration, a nation-wide peasant rebellion.
It is the task of the party of the working class to give a leadership to these scattered peasant revolts by actually participating in them. In the present phase of the struggle, that is the only concrete method of demonstrating to the peasant masses the leadership of the working class in the bourgeois-democratic stage of revolution, and the only method of ousting the Congress bourgeoisie from the leadership of the masses which, in fact, they hold today. If the working class leads these peasant revolts, then its leadership of the petty bourgeois masses will be established. Once this leadership is provided to the peasant masses in active rebellion, the bourgeois-democratic revolution will commence and the overthrow of British imperialism will be assured. The revolution once commenced will proceed to its logical conclusion of a proletarian revolution till it establishes the dictatorship of the working class with the support of the peasant masses and the international proletariat.
The Stalinists are carrying on a chauvinist campaign of the worst type. “Chittagong has been bombed. Indian houses have gone up in smoke” howls the Stalinist weekly (People’s War, November 1, 1942). “The invader has drawn Indian blood on Indian soil,” it weeps. They are, however, silent on the machine-gunning of the peasantry in Bihar by British airplanes. Their propaganda is racial, anti-Japanese and pro-British. There is not a trace of anti-imperialist propaganda in it, not even against Japanese imperialism. The present mass struggle is condemned. “The Communist party sets its face boldly against the present campaign,” writes P. C. Joshi (People’s War, November 29, 1942). No boldness was necessary to take shelter under British imperialist bayonets; only cowardice and treachery were necessary to join the camp of the imperialist against the masses in revolt. The Stalinists of India have displayed that their backbones are as supple as their principles. Their publications and speeches display a welter of confusion and contradiction between their professions and their practice. Their campaign for unity narrowed down to a demand to get permission for Mr. Rajagopalachari to see Mr. Gandhi. That is the sum total of Stalinist strategy in this struggle.
The Stalinists have helped British Imperialism to win the first round in the struggle, by betraying the trust and confidence the masses had in them. By their perfidy they have lost the confidence of the masses in India. Mr. Joshi wants the world to believe that the position of the Communist Party of India among the masses is stronger today when he says “If this were a real national struggle, it should have blown our party sky-high ... We should not have grown stronger but become extinct.” (People’s War, idem) Mr. Joshi and his henchmen in the CP of India should realize that the Communist Party is extinct as a working class party. A political party which ranges itself with the imperialists when a violent mass struggle is raging in the country for the overthrow of the established government has forfeited all right to call itself a party of the masses, certainly to call itself the party of the revolutionary working class. Mr. Joshi goes on to pat himself on the back, “Hundreds of disillusioned Congress workers are coming to us for lead and guidance.” (People’s War, idem) That, perhaps, is true. Hundreds of the petty bourgeois youth disillusioned with the bourgeois leadership of the movement are looking round for “lead and guidance.” But the Stalinists can lead them only to the camp of British imperialism, guide them to the feudal organization of Mr. Jinnah. No honest politically conscious Congress worker will drift into the camp of the agents of imperialism in India unless he is weary and desires rest, ease and comfort under the protection of British bayonets. The CP of India has been legalized and it is allowed to work in the open because its leaders have agreed to become the willing tools of Whitehall. The Stalinists are working for a united front in support of British imperialism. The major part of the front is already in operation. The Muslim League, the Hindu Maha Sabha, the Liberal Federation, the Royists and the Stalinists are already in the camp. They are making frantic efforts to bring the Congress – he nationalist bourgeoisie – into this camp. Perhaps they will succeed. But on the day they succeed in bringing the Congress into the “United National Front” in support of British imperialism the masses will not be under the Congress banner. Let Mr. Joshi understand that the Congress is not the only organization that stood and still stands for this struggle.
This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Trotskism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
Last updated on 12.9.2008