The third All National Conference of the Revolutionary Socialist Party meets at a time when one historical phase of Indian people's struggle for social, economic and democratic freedom has ended, and a new phase has begun with the so-called transfer of power on the historic 15th of August 1947. The Muzaffarpur Convention of the Party, held just on the eve of the announcement of the Mountbatten Plan under which transfer of power was effected, already forecast in its main political resolution the nature and significance of the impending political changes. These changes were already taking shape through compromise-negotiations between crisis-ridden British imperialism and the native Indian bourgeoisie represented by the leadership of the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League. The bifurcated state-division of the country on a communal basis into the Dominions of the Indian Union and Pakistan under the British Crown, the recession of the British imperialism from the position of direct ruling authority into the background and the handing over of political power to the representatives of the Congress and League, the concession of the status of formal political independence to India and Pakistan, initially as members of British Commonwealth under the terms of the Statute of Westminister—all these facts have brilliantly confirmed the correctness of the forecast made at Muzaffarpur.
The phase of national democratic or bourgeois-democratic revolution against foreign imperialism thus ended, owing to the vacillation and inherent compromisist tendency of national leadership and the immaturity and organisational unpreparedness of the proletariat and the peasantry, in a sort of half-baked and truncated revolution in the shape of a constitutional deal between imperialism and the reformist bourgeoisie over the heads of the masses. As the experience of last one year has amply proved, the grant of so-called political independence, and the installation of"national" governments in the Indian Union and the Pakistan, has not ushered in the era of real freedom for the masses of common people. It has only brought the Indian capitalist class and other allied vested interests to power and has opened the way to a partial bourgeois-capitalist development of the country, under the over-all hegemony of Anglo-American finance, as far as that is possible in this period of general crisis and decline of capitalism. The masses of common people, the workers, peasants and poorer sections of the middle classes, have been deliberately excluded by cleverly designed constitutional and extra-constitutional devices from any share in political power, or any real voice in moulding the destiny of the country. None of the basic tasks of the national-democratic revolution have been or could possibly be, resolved on this basis—in fact none of the major democratic demands of the Indian masses have been fulfilled so far.
The Muzaffarpur Resolution therefore directed the attention of the Party ad the Indian working class to the new historical and revolutionary perspectives that confront them in the changed national-political situation. It laid down in the clearest possible terms that hence forward in the context ofthe new situation which had arisen, Socialist Revolution forms the strategic objective of the Party and the proletarian masses. The unaccomplished tasks of bourgeois democratic revolution and the basic democratic demands ofthemasses would find their historic fulfilment in course of the development of the struggle for Socialism.
It further indicated that the task of organising Socialist revolution would have to be undertaken from the point where the tasks of democracy have been left unaccomplished i.e., with demand for the fulfilment of the basic democratic, economic and class demands of the proletariat and the peasantry, which would form the minimum programme of the party at the initial stages of the new historic phase. The new phase was, in terms of the Muzaffarpur Resolution, the phase of the struggle for Socialism, the phase of realising the fundamental democratic rights of the masses through Socialism. There was henceforward no other way to complete democracy except through Socialism and a Socialist revolution.
The plenary session of the Central Committee of the party which met at Gopalgunje, Bihar, in the last week of September 1947, just after the process of transfer of power was completed by the installation of the Dominion governments in India and Pakistan, reiterated in concrete terms the main political line of the party as laid down in Muzaffarpur. The Gopalgunje resolution defined Socialist revolution finally culminating in a Socialist seizure of power and the establishment of a socialist republic and dictatorship of the proletariat, as the immediate historical and strategic objective of the party, instead of national democratic revolution and a democratic seizure of power as formerly.
This clear-cut definition was called for to guard against the fashionable deviations from Marxism in the shape of "New- Democracy" and "Democratic Socialism"—which denies the inexorable historic necessity of a revolutionary transformation of society or the inevitability of proletarian dictatorship as a necessary stage in the way of transition to Socialism and advocates various sorts of reformist transitional half-way houses in the name of socialism and democracy contrary to the basic teachings of the Revolutionary Socialism of Marx, Engles and Lenin. The immediate political tasks confronting the party in its day-to- day activities both in the Indian Union and Pakistan were derived logically from the Muzaffarpur line, as being one of making the masses class-conscious, of exposing the character of the bourgeois "national" governments that were set up and organising the masses on the basis of a minimum programme embodying their fundamental democratic demands.
The Gopalgunje Resolution further directed the Party members working inside the Indian National Congress for coming out of that organisation, as it was no longer possible to work with a fighting mass programme inside the organisational frame-work of a party dominated by the ruling bourgeoisie. Both Congress and Muslim League as the ruling parties were bound to come into daily conflict with the masses and their interests. The R.S.P. as the party of the working class, as the party fighting resolutely for the democratic rights of the masses and for socialism could no longer allow its members working in any mass front to submit to the limitations imposed by the Congress or its organisational discipline. R.S.P.-ers had therefore no other alternative but to come out of the Congress.
The political developments in the country during the course of last one year and more specifically in the months following the finalisation of the transfer of power and installation of "national" governments, have richly confirmed and proved to the hilt the Muzaffarpur and Gopalgunje stands of the party.
The R.S.P. was practically alone in denouncing the Mountbatten plan of "National Independence" as a sham, and FORWARD TO SOCIALIST REVOLUTION in characterising the "national" governments that were being set up as the government of capitalists and vested interests.
The R.S.P. was the first in calling attention to the hoax that was being perpetrated in the name of democracy and popular administration.
R.S.P. was also the first among the left parties of the country in deducing correctly the change over of the historical perspective of mass struggle to Socialism, as a result of the inevitable change of class correlationship of forces following the transfer of power and in upholding Socialist revolution as the immediate strategic objective before the Indian working class and toiling masses.
R.S.P. was the first to emphasize, to all genuine leftists and democratic forces, the necessity of coming out of the Congress and organising the masses on independent democratic and socialist platforms outside the Congress.
The Muzaffarpur and Gopalgunje decisions of the R.S.P. were condemned by many so-called 'leftists' as ultra-left decisions which ignored to take into account the alleged "possibilities of democratic development" opened up before the masses by the transfer of power and formation of national government by trusted leaders of the people. Some of these "leftist" leaders including Socialists even entered into confabulations with the Congress Working Committee and Cabinet leaders in the hope of securing seats in the government while the Communists who were disturbed in their conscience by the presence of such pronounced bourgeois right-wingers as Sardar Patel in the Cabinet, sought to rationalise their position by the discovery of "progressive democratic" trends in the government in men like Pandit Nehru and pledged all support to the "national" government and its production plans on behalf of the working class and the popular masses.
Before the year was out however the pressure of objective circumstances, and the actual performance of the popular "national" government disillusioned many of these "leftists" and disabused their minds of the fond hopes with which they greeted the dawn of national independence. The Socialist "leftists" were sorely disappointed in no time with regard to their ministerial aspirations and they broke with the Congress in a huff- characterising the latter as a capitalist organisation and began to seek their fortune as the party of parliamentary opposition. The Communists were no more successful in their attempts to woo the Congress and the national government in the name of "peoples democracy" and suddenly woke up to find out that the Indian bourgeoisie now installed in power in the national government and the leaders of the Indian National Congress have deserted the "camp" of the people and have entered into collaboration with Anglo-American imperialism. They would no longer, therefore, make any distinction between Nehru and Patel, which was frankly admitted as a mistake—and wanted to carry forward mass struggle for "democracy and freedom" against Nehru Government. These erst-while friends of Nehru are now experimenting with ill- conceived adventurist tactics under a seeming left-turn in order to make their weight felt.
However may the present political line of these so-called leftists stand, the enforced shift of these groups from their former position at least proves indirectly the perspicacity and wisdom of the Muzaffarpur and Gopalagunje resolutions of the R.S.P. It certainly affords solid ground for being strengthened in the conviction of the scientific correctness of the revolutionary Marxist-Leninst line of approach of the party to political events. It was certainly the revolutionary socialist Marxist analysis of the R.S.P. which enabled the party to foresee the trend of coming events correctly and in defining the perspectives of the new revolutionary tasks set before the Party by those events.
What is more important for the Party today is however to pass in review the experience of the national political situation as it has developed in the past year and to draw proper lessons from them.
The country now stands divided into two separate state- entities viz: the Indian Union and Pakistan. The common point between them consists in that a bourgeois government is in power and is trying to side-track the live issues of the masses by encouraging communal reaction directly or indirectly and by fomenting hatred and bitterness between the peoples in each of the two states. They go even to the length of encouraging the threat of war between the two states. All Revolutionary Socialists must stand up resolutely against these communal zingoistic frenzies and strive for inter-state class-solidarity of the workers and peasants.
The record of the Congress national government in the Centre and the Provinces has made it amply clear that their policy is guided by the capitalists and other anti-democratic vested- interests. On every important national question they have bowed down to the dictates of these vested-interests at the cost of the masses and have shamelessly trampled down the basic democratic rights of the masses in the interest of the capitalists and their allies.
The constitution framed in the Constituent Assembly under the leadership of the self-same set of persons who are at the helm of the Congress and the national government is being forged as an authoritarian instrument of bourgeois dictatorship under the veil of democracy. The published draft of the constitution does not offer to the working-class and the masses of Indian people anything except the periodical right to vote for members of Provincial Assemblies. All sorts of power have been sought to be concentrated in the hands of the Provincial Governors and other executive heads
Rights of masses
given voice over
Leaving aside the question of future constitution, the actual performance of the national government in the administration of the country during the last one year—in the framing of its budgets, in foreign policy and in its industrial, agrarian and general economic policies—also prove beyond doubt that it is nothing but a government of the Indian upper classes determined to rule over the exploited masses of Indian working class and peasantry in the interests of the former. What is still more glaring is the blatant fact of utter corruption and inefficiency of the administration even from a bourgeois-capitalist angle. As a result of negotiated compromise with British imperialism the national government has inherited the outworn bureaucratic machinery of administration, that had grown up in the British days, as an instrument of oppression and foreign colonial exploitation over the masses of the people.
The first condition for the fulfillment of the minimum democratic demands of the masses in this country is that, this machinery of bureaucratic rule must be smashed and that its place taken by administration which has living and dynamic touch with the day-to-day life of the masses, and responsive to their interests.
The Congress and the national government were precluded from that course by the very terms of their deal with imperialism. The only purpose which this machinery serves, has been to keep the government and its leaders totally insulated from the demands of the people and their needs. The innumerable cracks and pores of this dilapidated structure have further served to ooze corruption from top to bottom. Government posts are looked upon as nothing but assignments on public revenue on which thrives bribery, nepotism and favouritism of the worst sort. The installation of Congress governments has not changed this state of affairs in any way except for the worse. The common people have scant chance of obtaining any redress of their grievances even on the basis of the meagre rights that the legal system provides them at present and officialdom can easily take shelter behind the plea of their being agents of a national administration conducted by trusted national leaders of the people themselves.
On the top of this corrupt administration runs the openly pro-capitalist policy of the national government. The first two budgets of Indian Union government have not provided for present deficits in the shape of nation-building schemes for the benefit of the common people, or by way of capital lay-outs for raising the productive efficiency and economic potential of the country. Inflation and the sky-rocketing rise of prices have not been checked in the slightest degree and have already out-reached the war-time peak. Unproductive expenditure in the shape of costs of military operations in Kashmir has gone on increasing. No proper relief has yet been secured to lower grades of government employees according to the recommendations of the Pay Commission. The only relief provided is for capitalist owners of industry by way of reduced rates of taxes on business incomes and profits.
The recently announced industrial policy of the Government has also put all schemes of nationalisation to cold-storage, and has sought to reassure the Indian capitalists and Anglo-American financiers that they would have ample scope for investing their capital here in private profit-making enterprises in almost all branches of industry excepting a few designated ones, where the risks are too great for private enterprise to venture in.
While thus refusing to develop the industries of the country by planned nationalisation in the interests of common man, the government is definitely encouraging collaboration of the Indian Capitalists with the Anglo-American bloc of financiers. By allowing the settlement of the war-time debt of Sterling Balances owed by Britain to India—the money which represents the blood, sweat and tears of the starving millions in this country, to be decided through negotiations, and agreeing to secure foreign exchanges for current needs of business through excess of exports, the Indian Union government has in fact sought to help Anglo- American capitalists at the expense of the Indian people. Instead of making any demands on the Sterling Balances, the excess of foreign exchanges earned through favourable balance of trade is mainly reserved for the purchase of machinery and capital goods from America and Britain. This economic collaboration and dependence naturally involve a corresponding attitude of political collaboration with the Anglo-American bloc in large matters of world-policy and inevitably decide the real alignment of Indian- Union with Anglo-American imperialism.
In internal industrial production, the government have made themselves hoarse calling for a large volume of production and demanding greater productive efforts from the working class. They have also sought to enforce industrial truce between capital and labour, and have, with this purpose, tried to bypass militant working class organisations and patronise Congress-sponsored Labour Unions under the banner of lndian National Trade Union Congress. But they have utterly failed to give any tangible effect to the policy of increased production by providing labour with proper incentive and by securing them at least the minimum tolerable standards of living and working conditions. The blame for every instance of reduced out-put in production is always laid at the door of labour. But no serious attempt has hitherto been made to control the vicious spiral of rising prices and costs except by enforcing a reduction of the share of production that goes to labour. Whatever is conceded to labour in the shape of increased wages is taken away through inflation, rising costs of living and indirect taxation.
On the other hand every encouragement is given to the capitalists by inefficient control measures to keep production deliberately at low level for trading in scarcity.Black-marketeering has therefore become rampant in every sphere and it can be definitely proved on the basis of the records and facts at the disposal of the Government themselves that it is the capitalist industrialists who have been the biggest factors in encouraging black-marketing and bringing down the level of production through their own greed, corruption and inefficiency.
In agrarian policy the national government has always prevented Provincial legislatures from taking any determined move for the abolition of landlordism in response to long-standing demands of the masses. The pattern of land-legislation sanctioned by higher Congress leadership and represented by the Bill for the so-called abolition of landlordism in Bihar, simply replaces private landlordism by state-landlordism while saddling the peasantry with the burden of compensation. It does not secure land to the tillers of the soil and enable the landlords to retain a considerable part of his holdings in altered forms, direct from the state. In the form the measure is being enacted, it really deprives them of all benefits of the abolition of landlordism.
The passing of the Public Safety Acts in all provinces giving the executive the power to arrest persons, whom they suspect, without warrant, and to detain them without trial in imitation of the worst days of British Ordinance Rule; and the orgy of repression let loose since then in all provinces against the members of the Revolutionary Socialist Party and other leftist organisations and against militant Trade Union and Kisan workers, prove beyond doubt that the Government is determined to suppress all vestiges of democratic freedom and civil liberties of the people in order to uphold their own authoritarian regime.
In foreign policy the national government has announced its pious intention to follow an independent line and to keep neutral of the antagonistic power-bloc systems in which post-war-world is sharply dividing itself. Pandit Nehru has even announced his contemplated plan of forming a third bloc with Asian and South- East Asian countries independent of both Anglo-American and Soviet Blocs. In actual fact, however, the national government has been actively aligning itself with the Anglo-American world powers. They have proved themselves utterly incapable of playing the role of the vanguard and leader of the revolutionary peoples and revolutionary mass forces struggling for their freedom throughout the world and of arraying them on a determined onslaught against world reaction. It is however futile to expect that this government of capitalists and entrenched vested-interests will ever be pursuing a revolutionary line in foreign policy or aligning itself with the peoples revolutionary bloc. It can only think in terms of entrenched power politics and shift its course hesitatingly through the eddies created by cross-currents of Anglo- American-Soviet relationship of forces. Its natural predilections and the pull of economic dependence and collaboration with the Anglo-American bloc however inevitably and imperceptibly draw it closer to the Anglo-American side, however, much it may flaunt its line of neutrality.
The utter failure of this so-called national government, whether in respect of home or foreign policy, from the democratic and revolutionary view point of the toiling masses and common people, hardly require any further elaboration. The supreme historic need of the moment is that of rallying and organising the masses of toilers in a determined struggle for securing their inherent democratic rights and the freedom to which they are entitled. The masses of people are no longer prepared to submit to the conditions of slavery, exploitation and oppression, against which the so-called independent and national government of free India has failed to provide them any relief or to better their lot in any manner. The disillusionment and frustration of the democratic aspirations of the masses during the last one year have already prepared the ground for the new phase of mass-struggle to which the Muzaffarpur and Gopalgunje Resolutions have directed the attention of the Party. The Party must now move forward amongst the masses in different class-fronts and endeavour by all means to rally them through independent class and mass organisations for immediate realisation of the following minimum democratic programme :
1. Complete democratisation of the state; immediate severance of all connections with the British Commonwealth and the British Empire; abolition and liquidation of the Native States and the Princely order, and integration of the States as parts of democratic federation of India.
2. Immediate confiscation of all foreign capitalist enterprises operating in India.
3. Immediate publication of the terms of all secret treaties and annulment of anti-national treaties.
4. A fully democratic constitution based on universal adult franchise to the exclusion of capitalists, landlords and other vested interests; direct election, abolition of second chambers of legislature in the Provinces; right of recall and referendum; transfer of power to the workers and peasants and to democratically elected representatives of toilers in fields and factories (in the true meaning of the slogan of Mazdoor-Kisan Raj).
5. Full guarantees for the right to freedom of person, speech, association, conscience and press; equality and special protection to the language and culture of the minorities and their democratic rights; immediate repeal of all repressive laws like the Public Safety and Security Acts.
6. Full constitutional guarantee for the right to employment and a decent minimum standard of living and income for all citizens, irrespective of castes, creed or religion; forty hour week; right to strike, trade union recognition and social insurance at the cost of the state and employers.
7. Immediate nationalisation of banks and large-scale financial organisation; Nationalisation of all basic and key industries and such important sectors of large-scale industries vital for the welfare of the people—as cotton, jute, coal, electricity, civil aviation, drugs and chemical industries etc. without compensation.
8. Workers share in the control and management of industrial and business establishments.
9. Abolition of the Zemindary System without compensation; Confiscation of all lands belonging to large land owners without any sort of compensation and redistribution of land to the tillers of the soil.
10. Economic plan to develop the national economic resources and removal of capitalist vested interests from strategic economic points.
11. Radical purge of the administration and direct association of popular mass organisations and their representatives in the day-to-day work of administration; Re-organisation of the army and navy in the form of a peoples' militia.
12. Liquidation of the burden of rural indebtedness by the immediate scrapping of all outstanding debts above a minimum; establishment of state-banks for the provision of cheap loans to the peasantry for productive purposes; co-operative marketing and minimum price for principal crops.
13. Establishment of compulsory free primary education, free medical and public health services for all citizens and especially for rural areas.
In the struggle for the realisation of this democratic programme the Party shall utilize all avenues for approaching the masses including the coming local and general elections, and shall try to mobilise maximum mass-sanction behind these demands. It shall at the same time clearly keep before its view its objective of complete Socialist transformation of the society or maximum programme of a Socialist Revolution, and endeavour at every stage to give a socialist orientation to the outlook and organisation of the masses.
The Revolutionary Socialists shall be prepared for the task of organising the masses for the above mentioned democratic programme, to co-operate with all genuinely democratic and socialist parties in the country and to join their own forces with the latter as necessity arises. But the various attempts at forging left-unity in recent months have shown that these inevitably degenerate into sectarian blocs serving the interests of one particular group or party, or are broken up in mutual suspicion and wrangling. In order to guard against such degeneration, the task of forging socialist and left-unity should never be conceived mechanically as a superficial alliance of parties and party leaders over the heads of the masses, and must be based on common acceptance, adherence and the joint endeavour to work out the common minimum programme. The only unity that is worth striving for is unity of action and struggle and the efforts of the party shall be directed towards that end.
The party stands today at the threshold of that historic juncture when the struggle for democracy and the struggle for socialism has become interwoven and the one inevitably passes into the other. Our struggle for democracy can be successful only to the extent that we are conscious of our revolutionary socialist objectives and marshal our forces with that end in view. The democratic programme is only the beginning. Its historic purpose is to isolate and paralyse all vested-interests in order to smash the entrenched power of the capitalist and land lords.
It is needless to emphasize that in order to successfully accomplish this task the Party has to regroup and redeploy its own forces for comprehending and leading of the broadest upswing of the new mass-movement, and to emerge as the mass- party of workers, peasants and toiling people in general. The mass struggle has already begun. The peasants of Bihar and Eastern U.P., Tea-garden labourers in North Bengal, the workers of Calcutta, Jamshedpur, Kanpur and Kerala, the state-peoples of Cochin, Gwalior and Coochbehar have shown, under the leadership of R.S.P. units of these places what they can achieve. But it must be pointed out that unless the Party moves forward determinedly and acquire the necessary organisational strength for carrying out the tasks which face it in this new historic phase, it will simply give the enemies of revolution a new lease of life and a new tenure to exploit and oppress the masses. The entire future of the people and the toiling millions are at stake. History will be on our side only Lo the extent we are prepared to face the tasks set by it. We have to march resolutely, to mould the future, to make our own history. There are only two alternatives: either we move the Revolutionary Socialist way or get stuck in the morass that the Indian capitalist newly installed in power has inevitably landed us in. The Party is confident that Revolutionary Socialism is bound to win ultimately, but the Party must prepare itself as the proper vehicle of the coming revolution. That is the order of the day for the R.S.P.