From Fourth International, vol.6 No.7, July 1945, pp.199-200.
Transcribed, marked up & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.
In August 1942, the Indian National Congress endorsed the policy of open fight against the British imperialists. Taking advantage of the lack of organization and the absence of a strong working class party, British imperialism was able to crush the movement under its iron heel, to drive it underground. Since this suppression, Congress had been making innumerable attempts to end what they call the political deadlock. The most important of all these attempts has been the acceptance of office by Congress in the North-West Frontier Province, since all these attempts were directed at getting back to office.
Attempts to show that what has happened in the NWFP is an isolated case, that Congress is not on the way to acceptance of office, have completely failed. The move towards office is all over the country. The Congress leaders in Assam have agreed to support the re-constituted ministry on the basis of operating a certain agreed program. So it is also in Sind. In Bengal they are ready to support a coalition ministry. In the Central Provinces, Bihar and Orissa, there is an obvious move towards it. The acceptance of office in NWFP, taken in conjunction with what is happening elsewhere, is thus symptomatic of the move of Congress towards acceptance of office. That what has happened in NWFP is going to happen also in other provinces is proved by the declarations of the Congress leaders to the effect that general acceptance of office is possible only when all the leaders are released. Thus, within a few years, Congress swings from a policy of open fight to one of acceptance of office, from a policy of grab-as-you-can to one of serve-as-much-as-you-can.
What does the acceptance of office by Congress mean? No imperialist government can now allow any organization to be in office until and unless it unequivocally supports the present bandit war. Hence this act of Congress means that it now gives up its opposition fight and swings back to the position of servitors of the British Raj. In connotes active participation in imperialist exploitation of the Indian workers and peasants. It connotes active cooperation with imperialism to maintain its terroristic rule over India. In the final analysis, it signifies that Congress has sold out itself to the imperialists to perform a twofold task: that of recruiting sergeant for the imperialist war and that of police agents to fight against the revolutionary opposition to the war, i.e., against the exploited masses of India. (That Congress is bound to play the role of police agents is corroborated by the fact that while in office it didn’t hesitate to shoot down workers, for example, in Bombay and Cawnpore in 1938. It is further proved by the declarations of the Congress leaders in Assam to the effect that they are for release of all political prisoners except those involved in “sabotage,” i.e., the revolutionary elements in Congress.)
To an honest revolutionist the natural question that arises is: Why does Congress accept office at this juncture? To this frankly posed question we reply that, being the class organ of the native bourgeoisie, the task of Congress is to look after the interests of this bourgeoisie. Frightened at the prospect of post-war competition with the foreign capitalists, trembling at the gloomy outcome of that unequal fight, the native bourgeoisie is out to defend what it now possesses by legislative means. It even dreams of facilitating its own fight against foreign capital by constitutional means, such as manipulation of tariffs (i.e., the protection of home products, duties on imported goods, and so on). Hence their class organ, the Indian National Congress, accepts office. Thus we see how, behind this opportunistic move of Congress, is the filthy, greedy, trembling hand of a weak colonial bourgeoisie; how, in reality, Congress is tied to the apron-strings of the Indian capitalist class.
Now, what does support, however reserved it might be, of this act, namely, acceptance of office by Congress, mean? Support means that those within Congress must give up their fight against the British Raj, they should not only oppose any movement but also that they must unhesitatingly support every action of the Government to smash any attempt at organizing the revolutionary masses of India. (That this will be so is borne out by the fact that, while in office, Congress did not even protest against the promulgation of the Defense of India Rules.) It signifies that they must support and fight for the imperialist war, which act has only one meaning, namely: that they must support the enslavement of the colonial people. For, this war is fought by British imperialism for maintaining its rule over the colonial people, and support to the war necessarily means contributing to the strength of the British Raj so that it can maintain its clutches which are choking the Indian masses for the last two hundred years.
What is the attitude of the “left” forces, e.g., the Congress Socialist Party, within the Congress, who, since their inception, have been crying for the overthrow of the reactionary leadership and implanting their “left” leadership? Ignoring the fact that since these forces came into existence they failed to intransigently oppose the reactionary leadership, not to speak of attempting to establish “left” leadership, these forces pretend that they are out to snatch away the leadership! Babbling about an alternative “left” leadership, they have supported the Gandhian leadership. Prattling about “revolutionary” leadership, they have always surrendered to the reactionary one in crucial periods. Tattling about inculcating “socialist” leadership, the “leftists, i.e., the CSP, capitulates to the bourgeois Leadership by proposing to liquidate its own organization. As for those, e.g,, the Revolutionary Socialist Party, who think themselves to be more to the left than the CSP, they even do not dare attack openly this capitulation of Congress. (So it has been with even Tagore’s Revolutionary Communist Party in the Students Federation.) Along with the surrender of the Congress leadership, to whom licking the imperialist boot is now a more lucrative job than an open fight like that of August 1942, which was aimed at squeezing out whatever it could from the British imperialists, the soi-disant socialist leaders like Masani and his ilk are exhaling poisons of confusion, utter demoralization, in short, capitulation.
Cringing before the bourgeois leadership, these “left” leaders, obviously embarrassed at the attitude of the rank and file towards acceptance of office, are sowing confusion among their own rank and file by characterizing it as a “tactical move.” This is a measure of the extent to which this Leadership is frightened by the discontentment in the ranks of its own followers. This is obviously an attempt to quiet down the rank and file by whatever weapons it can. As regards this “tactical move” we want to state that tactics are employed to serve the purpose of general strategy. Now our task is to organize the workers and peasants for the coming onslaught on the imperialist citadel. To what acceptance of office leads, we have clearly seen. Our analysis completely rejects the explanation of these “tacticians.” Under the benign patronage of imperialism, an organization can serve the interests of its patrons only. On the other hand, it is a tactical move employed by the British imperialists. Fearful of the revolutionary wars which must come in the wake of this robber war, imperialism is out to utilize the Congress popularity to serve its imperialist aims.
In the face of this shameful capitulation of the “left” leaders, what should the rank and file “leftists” do? Those who still sincerely believe that Congress is a platform, that they should implant their “left” leadership, must prove their sincerity by action. Their task is to fight out the Right Wing on the question of acceptance of office. An organization which fails to attack its opponents on a vital question can never blast out the opponents, not to speak of wrenching away the leadership from them. Fight Out the Right! This every genuine leftist inside Congress demands. A fight against the Right Wing is now impossible for them without a fight against their “left” leaders, who have already backed down to the Right. It is only by waging unremitting struggle against capitulation in every form, by fighting against dissolution of their own organizations, that they can seriously fight to attain the goal. Intransigent opposition to every capitulationist masquerading as a “leftist”! This everyone demands of them. To make the fight successful they must mobilize mass opinion in their favor. Where Congress has accepted office or is supporting ministries, there we must press for: Immediate Release of ALL Political Prisoners!
In this bitter fight the progressive forces must support the rank and file leftists. We, the Bolshevik-Leninists, pledge full support to these fighters in their fight against capitulation.
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Last updated on 9.9.2008