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The New International, December 1942


Books in Review

Stalinism with Fables


From New International, Vol. VIII No. 11, December 1942, pp. 350–351.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


India Without Fable
by Kate L. Mitchell
Alfred A. Knopf, publisher; 308 pages

This book had us in a puzzled and bewildered state, up to the last chapter on the Aftermath of the Cripps Mission. Then we understood the fraud and swindle its “liberal and scholarly authoress” was attempting to put over.

The puzzle stems from the vigorous and uncompromising (so it would appear) analysis and description the author gives of British imperialist rule over India. True, it lacks any originality or imaginative approach and depends entirely upon familiar sources (not too often given appropriate or proper credit). But, nevertheless, we are given an accurate portrayal of British conquest, British exploitation, British super-profits, British holdings and control, etc. Even the political parties are more or less accurately (even in the Marxian sense) described. The Congress and its leader, Gandhi, are placed in their proper setting as organizational forms and expressions of the native bourgeoisie; the pro-British rôle of the Moslem League is made clear. True, here too, the authoress falls into several errors, such as, for example, crediting the British with improving the land irrigation system and with “bringing” political consciousness to the people.

As to the first “fable,” we recommend that Miss Mitchell read Kisan Speaks by Professor Ranga, head of the All-India Kisan Sabha – a book that explodes this myth at some length. Her second contention is a meaningless one since it merely describes an objective result of British rule; if the statement is not meaningless then it is vicious, since it is a left-handed justification of imperialism – it brought political consciousness to the people of Poland.

But despite all this, the factual and historical aspects of the book are ably and accurately presented and merit the attention of those looking for a text-book of an elementary character. All of this, however, is only to lead up to the distortion and swindle interjected by the writer at the very end.

Why this attack on the British, especially from an American liberal, the reader asks himself? Where is it getting us? Is the author really for the Indian people in their struggle against imperialism, will she side with their current fight for freedom?

Not at all! It’s all a cheap political fraud, for, as the author approvingly writes on page 279: “... any immediate revolutionary action against Britain would play directly [sic] into the hands of Japan and Germany.” It all becomes clear at the end. Here is a “Popular Front” Stalinist intellectual posing as a left-wing liberal.

All you have to do to prove our point is to compare this line with the present line on the “Indian Question” of the American Stalinists and their openly strike-breaking brothers in India itself. Do these people give their full approval to Churchill and his terrorist repressions? Oh no, they are far too clever for that. They are “against imperialism, against Churchill,” it goes without saying. A plague on both your houses, they say. Gandhi, the Congress leaders and the workers and peasants who refuse to allow them to compromise – they are too adamant, say the Stalinists. So are the Churchill Tories. But Gandhi, the “defeatist,” and the militant workers are the greater plague since their “irresponsible” behavior plays into the hands of the Tory reactionaries. What is needed, continue the Stalinists, is compromise, an end to violent struggle, American intervention, settlement, order and peace so that the Indian people can prepare to die in greater quantities for the benefit of Russian defense and the restoration of Burma to the empire.

Miss Mitchell gives an outworn, but no less contemptible twist to the familiar line that Gandhi is a reactionary in his methods and social aims. By insisting upon a struggle (that is, by realizing with far greater profundity than Mitchell or Nehru what was the actual temper of the people) Gandhi runs the risk of causing their defeat, since his “non-violent, non-cooperation” methods cannot win. How solicitous of “the people” are the Stalinists and their sympathizers. How much better it would be for the people to quietly remain as before, rather than run the risks of open struggle. This is the familiar argument of every slave-apologist. Unfortunately, Miss Mitchell could not know that the workers, as they have demonstrated, have passed beyond the stage and methods of traditional Gandhism and have set their course on the revolutionary road.

Like all the liberal-Stalinist type, Miss Mitchell has no place for the independent action of workers and peasants in her neat little schema. Her book, written just before the present struggle began, blatantly predicts (page 288) there will be no struggle. She does not understand that when the Indian people have reached that historic stage in their development when they can challenge the outmoded methods of Gandhi, it is even more simple for them to foresee the traps set by the Stalinists and others who play the game of British imperialism. For a subtle weaving of the Stalinist snare we could not recommend more beguiling pages than the last part of this book.

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