IRRELEVANT ‘LEFT’ – II

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 07 Apr 2018 11:51:44


  

“Our object is the economic freedom of the producing classes; this ultimate goal will be attained after a long and bitter struggle; therefore our primary task is to organise the masses and lead them in the struggle for economic freedom.” - Dr. Manbendra Nath Roy, a founder of the Communist Party of India, and a radical thinker.

This was certainly not the bargain the founders of Leftism in India had worked for. Their ideals were lofty and attractive to anybody and everybody, so much so that other political organisations like Congress and the Socialist parties embraced that thought. The Communists could not maintain their uniqueness in the changing political atmosphere.

STATEDLY, all factions of what was originally the Communist Party of India (CPI) stuck to this avowed goal of Leftism - - ever since the Communist movement took its baby steps in the country. So fascinating that philosophy was that countless young intellectuals who wished to do something for the society felt attracted to it. And there came a time when the Communist movement attained for it a sizeable presence in the Indian political arena. Not only did the movement make a critical point in shaping the country’s economic thinking, but also assumed a reasonable importance in the political theatre, so much so that it also formed Governments at various places and played a stellar role in altering equations. It also assumed power in a few States in the Indian Union and impacted the political thought process to a great extent. Even as all that was happening, the Communists had also started invariably sowing seeds of their own destruction -- through factions, through disgruntled cadres whose individual wishes and goals were often sacrificed at the feet of the senior leadership that was more often than not geriatric and old-fashioned. What we now see is only the back of communism from the Indian political arena, having retained tenuous power only in one State -- Kerala.  

Those who understand the trajectory of political history suspect that soon Leftism would be a thing of the past in India, or only a pale shadow of its former self. All the talk as highlighted by men of the calibre of Dr. Manbendra Nath Roy now stands forgotten or failed, as Leftism assumed only the political route and shunned the socio-economic arena. All the factions of the erstwhile CPI lived only in the political field and gave up their avowed principle of organising struggle of the masses for economic freedom. With the ultimate goal getting narrowed down only to political gain, Leftism started losing its relevance faster than anybody could imagine.  

Another difficulty was that most political parties, too, picked up critical points from the Communist philosophy and incorporated it in their respective political statements. Leftism, thus, lost its uniqueness and became one of the many parties trying to attain similar-sounding goals. In that rough and tumble of politics -- electoral politics -- the Communists kept losing much ground. They did have their bastions -- in West Bengal, in Kerala, in Tripura, and also in some other pockets. But in the past few years, they first lost in West Bengal to the Trinamool Congress, another avatar of Left thought; and of late in Tripura. In Kerala, they are now facing issues whose solutions they may not have in their kitty that has violence against rivals as one of the important tools.  

All this has been happening because the Leftists kept drifting away from Leftism, in pursuance of their political goal of forming Government wherever possible. Thus, they left their most important plank of waging a war against establishment in favour of what Dr. Roy called “the producing classes”. The Communists became the establishment, and thus gave up a critical platform from which they dared the world.  Power has an ugly trait: It corrupts the person who occupies the seat. The same thing happened with the Communists as well, in whatever faction they were housed -- in Government or in organisation.  

This is the story of Communist or Leftism in short in India. So firm has been the grip of geriatric leadership on most factions in the country that younger cadres were left to getting engaged in street marches and slogan-shouting. Even as the Lefty parties formed Government in West Bengal, for example, the cadres kept roaming the streets, finding expression to their own anger and frustration by inflicting wounds on the larger society in this or that manner. Unfortunately, most of their actions got categorised as political hooliganism, that ultimately led to the downfall of Leftism from popular mind. The political defeat in West Bengal and Tripura was the rejection of that hooliganism by the voters.  

The geriatric leadership of the Left parties could not notice this phenomenon of dwindling fortunes and decimating popular support. It lived in a make-believe world of popular acceptance and eventually lost the battle of electoral supremacy. The philosophical belief that drove leaders and thinkers like Dr. Manbendra Nath Roy got lost in the political thirst that consumed Leftism in the ultimate analysis.  

What is now left in the name of ‘Left’ is nothing but a near-right-wing avtar of Leftism in disguise.  This was certainly not the bargain the founders of Leftism in India had worked for. Their ideals were lofty and attractive to anybody and everybody, so much so that other political organisations like Congress and the Socialist parties embraced that thought. The Communists could not maintain their uniqueness in the changing political atmosphere. Thus, the march of Leftism towards its own end began almost at the same time the thought was generated in the Indian conditions. This is not oversimplification of the historical reality; this is the first interpretation reportage (FIR) of a movement that once almost ruled half the world -- from India.