Friday, November 23, 2007

Hypocrite intellectuals -- It is not enough to criticise CPI-M. Marx is at the root of the problem

The Left-leaning intellectuals in New Delhi and Kolkata have outed themselves over Nandigram violence. They did not think, at long last, that there is much of a difference between Hindutva lumpen elements and the gun-toting Marxist goons. And the liberal media has applauded them lustily that even they – the Leftie intellectuals and artists – found Marxist violence in Nandigram so repulsive. And the committed intellectuals and artists are basking in the media sunlight of admiration.

It has to be mentioned, in passing, that the media which hates the CPI-M and the Left Front heartily because they are angry that Karat & Co are nuking the India-US nuclear deal. Nandigram came as a God-sent opportunity for the pro-America media to haul the Marxists over the coals.

Then we have the Left intellectuals who felt that they could not any more endorse the CPI-M politics. The reason for this disenchantment and heart-break is that the Left Front government in West Bengal has veered round to the need for bringing in private investment, and abandoning some of the silly verities of Marxian economics which the Left economists still cling to. They continue to write commentaries like medieval Indian scholars on Marx’s unscientific economic treatises. The reason for the rift between the Left intelligentsia and the prime Left political party is not the violence in Nandigram but it is CPI-M’s flirtation with economic liberalization.

It is only those who pretend to be na├»ve who should be surprised and shocked at the CPI-M response to the challenge posed by the Maoists and Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress. The CPI-M never believed in the democratic practice of fighting the political rival and opponent through argument and through the battle of the ballot. The CPI-M believed that the ‘class enemy’ has to be overcome by force. The CPI-M and the CPI are not parties which are rooted in ideas and ideologies. It was an illusion that many of us have created about them. Both leaders and followers do not understand a word of the gibberish that Marx wrote in those forbidding tomes which have been priced at the cheapest rates, but which could not still be sold because they were all so eminently unreadable.

The CPI-M did not do anything unusual in Nandigram. Use of force and terror is the favoured way of the party for maintaining its control in West Bengal. And it has been at it for the 30 years that the Left Front has been in power in the state. Cadre terror has been the leitmotif of CPI-M politics. This should not come as a surprise either. Most people forget that the communists do not believe in democracy and dissent. Theirs is a totalitarian outlook and approach. Those who differ with them and oppose them in democratic ways are not just dissidents, opponents and rivals. They are enemies, heretics, renegades.

The complicity of the Left intellectuals and artists with the CPI-M crimes cannot be glossed over because they chose to protest over Nandigram. The intellectuals and the artists have enlisted themselves as the unofficial cadre of the Marxist party. And it goes a long way back, and it is a global phenomenon of the communist movement across the world. The cultural and intellectual fronts were the accepted mode of Marxist strategy. The intellectuals and artists entered the ranks with their eyes open. They cannot really say that they did not understand the totalitarian implications of Marxist ideas. They submitted themselves to party discipline because they felt they were serving the great cause of the emancipation of the oppressed classes. They did not wake up when the oppressed remained where they were, and a new class of oppressors took the place of the old ones.

The intellectuals tried to explain away the failure by finding a handy villain. Stalin was the first to be denounced by Marxists, saying that Marx and Lenin were different. Marxists in liberal Western democracies found Lenin too to be unsatisfactory. So they tried to save Marx from the political quagmire of Bolshevism and Maoism. So was born Marx, the sociologist, the romantic and the humanist in the Western academia of the 1960s and 1970s. But Marx and his political followers of the communist parties knew the logic of violence implied in revolutionary politics.

All those innocent souls who were associated with the IPTA, where all the card-holders and fellow-travellers gathered in the 1940s cannot plead innocence. They could not have said that the 1930s’ Stalinist purges did not happen. Nor could they hide from the fact that the Bolsehvik Revolution of November 1917 was a coup against the February Revolution carried out by liberals and constitutionalists. The IPTA folk were the intellectually awakened lot.

It is still not very clear whether the Left-leaning intellectuals and artists have woken up from the century-long Marxist slumber or not. It should not surprise anyone if the ‘intellectual vanguard of the proletariat’ is still trying to revive the original Marxism without realizing that totalitarianism and violence are rooted in Marx’s politics. The only way forward is to see the faults in Marx’s thinking, and that is the first step in rejecting the CPI-M and the rest.

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