From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 34, 24 August 1942, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
In the past two weeks, British terror in India, directed against an unarmed people, has been responsible for the death of hundreds, the wounding of thousands and the jailing of probably tens of thousands.
For two weeks the country has been shaken by a series of endless clashes, street battles, demonstrations and shootings. British propaganda reports are attempting to give the impression that it is all over and that they hare the situation in hand. THAT IS ABSOLUTELY FALSE! The struggle is shifting back and forth, from city to city, and first beginning to take hold in the great peasant areas that lie outside the main industrial centers.
In the city of Bombay alone, main scene of nationalist clashes to date, the British police and soldiers have killed 31 and wounded 250 since the day when the Indian National Congress adopted a resolution calling for mass civil disobedience against foreign rule.
Virtually every city and large town in India has felt the blows of British clubs and has heard the noise of British machine guns and rifle fire. Every great Indian city (Calcutta, Delhi, Nagpur, Cawnpore, Allahabad, Poona, Madras, etc.) has counted its dead victims and martyrs of the nationalist cause.
It is the workers and poorer sections of the population who have borne and continue to bear the brunt of the struggle. The conservative Congress members (merchants, professionals and middle class people) have been conspicuous by their ABSENCE from the demonstrations.
It is the working class, side by side with radical students, who are meeting the fascist-like methods of the British rulers.
Already the air is full of rumors and reports about attempted compromises. The most reactionary and conservative sections of the Indian population (the landlords and native capitalists) have been terrified by the militancy and revolutionary spirit of the people. They dread – just as much as do the British imperialists – a political and social revolution in India that will be conducted by the masses of people. They know that such a revolution would not stop at ousting the British rulers, but would also oust the native landlords and the native capitalist class. Therefore, they are making efforts to sound out the British and make a deal with them.
A dozen intermediaries and stooges of British rule have already come forward, each with his own particular scheme to settle the question. But each, scheme will fail because all alike deny the people of India the only thing that will mean something to them: immediate and unconditional freedom from the 200-year-old British rule.
In the United States, various liberals and groups of liberals (Dorothy Thompson, Norman Thomas, Pearl Buck, etc.) are urging the people of India to compromise their cause and call off their struggle for independence. Instead of directing their main criticism against the British terrorists and destroyers of liberty, these liberals place British terror and Indian resistance against this terror on the same level and then criticize both sides! As if the issue in India were a matter of “reason” and “temperance”!
However, the people of India know otherwise. For them the issue is a matter of 400,000,000 people who are being denied their elementary democratic right to national independence. This issue cannot be compromised!
The first wave of India’s renewed fight is over. The period of unorganized demonstrations, leaderless and sporadic strikes, has definitely passed. But the British, who are deploying their armed forces all over the country (those same forces who were supposedly sent to India to fight the Japanese), are not fooled by this. They know better. They are preparing to meet the second wave of nationalist struggle, a wave which they know in advance will be more powerful, better organized and better led than in the first battles.
For the people of India – the workers and peasants – are creating their own new revolutionary leadership, to meet the tests in the long, upward struggle that lies ahead of them.
Last updated: 31.12.2013