Rejoinder  and reflections by comrades on ‘Fractured Freedom and  Interviews  of Comrade Kobad Ghandy

kobadghandy

In recent days I received a rebuttal from Comrades who read my critique of Kobad Ghandy book  ‘Fractured Freedom”.I may not completely endorse their viewpoint but I respect their sound clarity from a Marxist Leninist perspective. I also admired Kobad Ghandy’s brilliant refutation of the criticism of Comrades KN Ramchandran but not so much of Manish Azad.

What needs to be brought to light most is why the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution failed and why there was so much splintering and chaos within the non –Maoist camp. I appreciate how Kobad highlights how KN simply branded him as a Maoist just like the state. I admire Kobad in his replies for defending confrontation of dogmatism .I was unhappy with the questions Kobad posed critique Manish Azad on why he did not refer to Chinese revolution and only spoke about Paris Commune and GPCR, why he gave no answer to why GPCR failed in China after Mao and why he gave no reference to Ambedkar,Phule and caste. It virtually puts the great achievements of erstwhile Socialist countries into oblivion, derides Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideology and places characters like Ambedkar and Phule on par with Mrax or Engels.

The criticisms of comrades illustrate that combating dogmatism is welcome but not at the cost of the fundamentals of Leninism.I advise all readers to read in detail the critique of Kobad Ghandy interviews and his refutation of them. Overall from the reflections I feel Kobad ghandy lacks critical insight from a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist insight on the shortcomings within the Indian Communist movement and indirectly derides the achievements of Socialist Russia, Cultural Revolution in China, Paris Commune etc.

I appreciate the sound and balanced critique of Chairman Joma Sison  Anirudh Ranjan,

Bhaskar Vishwanathan Muthu and a Russian Comrade. Anirudh ranjan reflects how Ghandy has negated the true character of the proletariat in India and not demarcated from pseudo Socialism or Guevarist thinking.Muthu has made a sound thesis of how social revolutionary theories are ingrained within Leninism and how GPCR dealt with human psychology in the very backyard. He  vividly illustrates the essence of Leninism  or historical materialism. The Russian comrade boldly praises Ghandy’s confronting mechanical Maoist rhetoric or practice and how Kobad  has highlighted important changes in the lives of industrial workers .he points out I should not loosely use or label thinkers as post-modernists.

Quoting Chairman Joma Sison  of National Democratic Front of Phillipines wrote to me   “You take the correct position. KG makes loose, presumptuous and gratuitous remarks, like communists have no value system, overlook individual responsibility, have disdain for happiness in separation from aim aim of equality and depend on notion of inevitability instead of use dialectical materialism, class analysis, class struggle and mass mobilization.”

Quoting  Comrade Anirudh Rajan “Hello comrade. I have read his interviews, not his book though. I find some of his views, at least going by his interviews alone to be quite unusual. Besides the focus on happiness and values, which I suppose at a stretch one can compare to efforts of the Cultural Revolution to speed up the proletarianisation of the people and party or Charu Mazumadar’s views of a new man emerging from annihilation of class enemies, it’s his views on Cuba and China that worry me more. When was Cuba a socialist country? The guevarists were petty bourgeoisie democrats at best and under the thumb of the revisionist USSR for most of their time in power. And China lifting millions out of poverty? As if the emergence of a middle class compensates for the countless workers toiling under unspeakable conditions ruled over by a bourgeois dictatorship? These are in fact the issues that I found more troubling than his doubts of agrarian war or electoral politics. One can always debate strategy and tactics but to have doubts of the class character of the enemy is in my opinion more dangerous. Regarding Ramachandran’s piece, I agree with your analysis that its rank opportunism to use Kobad Ghandy’s views as a platform to carry on his anti Maoist tirade.

Quoting Comrade Anirudh Rajan   on my critique “Sorry for the late reply. Yes I read your review.. I find the point you raise about the mass line interesting. Nowhere in KG’s interviews, when speaking about values or happiness, does he indicate integrating deeper with the masses or learning from them. By happiness and values I suppose he means happiness as determined by the masses and proletarian values and if so, where is the masses’ role in defining those. Regarding another point, I have a difference of opinion as compared to both you and KG. Regarding the nature of the proletariat in India, I don’t think acts of smuggling, increased fares or side jobs of a non proletarian character dilute the proletarian character of the indian working class. These actions are too few and restricted to a minority to influence the working class as a whole beyond a few individuals. For me, the non proletarian characteristics of the working class in India stem from semi feudalism and the working class’ continued linkages with the villages and their semi feudal nature. Even so, especially among the landless peasantry that have transitioned to factory employment, I do believe there exists a proper proletariat.”

Quoting comrade Bhaskar Vishwanathan Muthu  on my critique “My view on your article on Kobad’s book is following below: 1. I don’t agree with the very mentioning of the term ‘Stalinism’ by you. In this situation, you mention that Kobad is a progressive critique of Stalinism. The very mentioning of Stalinism is nothing but Trotsykism. 2. Though you mention that Kobad’s book suffers from eclectism, your view too suffers from the same. Because on one hand, you say that Kobad is a progressive one etc., ; On the other hand, Kobad’s view suffers from Post-Modernism. 3. A Marxist can’t go beyond a certain limit to give importance to Psychology. Otherwise What is the meaning of ‘Being determines the consciousness’? Of course, a section of the oppressed class behaves conversely. Since ‘the ideas of the ruling society are ideas of the ruling classes’ naturally the ruled ones suffer from false consciousness. Yes. A section from the oppressed classes become either Police or Military personnel to oppress their own brethren. It has been there since the emergence of classes. Only in course of time, these personnel would start to revolt against the entire state machinery including Police/Military personnel. 4. Also, because of non-unionisation of entire workers permanent/regular workers are against the former due to economism and primarily of revisionism. 5. Ghandy does not apply Historical Materialism for the cultural questions as well as the values he raised. For which Mao launched ‘Rectification Campaigns’ for six years during the 40s alongwith the successful struggle against the invasion of Japanese Imperialism. Which enabled the successful revolution in 1949. For the same reason and on the same basis, GPCR has been launched to retain the socialist society and the establishment of ‘New Man’. Also, Mao acknowledged the need to launch thousand GPCRs to stop the reversal of Socialist society. Similarly, he always too prepared to organise revolution for any no. of times repeatedly as well as GPCR. Because, culturally, People have been moulded to have alien class trends since the emergence of the classes. Kobad Ghandy is not prepared to recognise this due to his narrow empiricism. You do suffer from eclectism as I mentioned above.”

Quoting a Russian Comrade “it is a very bad habit of some maoists to overuse labels like this without explaining their actual critique of the opposing view.it is unscientific.maybe you have a specific thing you mean by postmodernist here, could you explain?

anyway i have not read ghandy’s book

‘however i did agree with the general remarks by him i read – he said that many maoists, in india and elsewhere, have a mechanical analysis of reality which is not an analysis of present reality at all, but just quotes from mao or lenin or stalin without any real analysis of present relations.and + total overestimation of existent subjective forces .Also i do agree with him that communists should be clearer about what exactly kinds of economic policy they propose i think often there is a focus on just repeating abstract slogans about socialism, but not relating that to the real problems of existing social classes.”

“anyway i do agree that this focus on ‘happiness’ and so on by ghandy is maybe irrelevant. i dont know, i havent read him. but i agreed in large part with his critiques of many maoists and communists as excessively idealist and obssessed wIth slogans rather than analyzing reality”.

“i think he is wise to draw attention to the phenomenon of the large mass of informal, semi-employed workers in the capitalism of poor nations this is a fact in all poor nations today – it is true in ukraine as it is in india;this requires quite different tactics than old trade union tactics, which work best for formalized workers at stable workplaces.”

“i would also disagree that for instance althusser or badiou are ‘postmodernist’i do not really know what this term means badiou for instance spent much of his philosophical work critiquing philosophers who did not believe in truth, like foucault or derrida (And generally this is what people seem to mean by ‘postmodernism’)”

“personally i think there are some positive aspects of badious work, although also some negative aspects.in any case i do not think it is scientific to use the term ‘postmodernist’ without defining it, for an author which many times critiqued obviously postmodernist authors, an author who made a large philosophical project around defending truth, in the interests of what he called communist politics also notable that badiou still upholds cultural revolution as highly positive event, and considers much of pre-kruschev soviet experience to be positives. so i do advise you to be careful using this term ‘postmodernist.”

I feel Kobad  is eclectic when praising China today which is a very reactionary society and professes expansionist ideology. Kobad replaces Leninist class analysis and practice when he narrates  that psychology be given equal importance to Leninism. I strongly feel unlike Muthu that mentioning Stalinism is Trotskyism as Chairman Mao at the very root wished to rectify errors of Stalin neglecting the superstructure. No doubt today there are comrades who propagate that Maoism is principal and even treat it as a rupture of Leninism ,giving it another meaning to what the CPC gave it in 1969,like Comrdae Ajith(Murali)  or Joshua Moufawad Paul.

Kobad also gives scant respect to the existence or potential of the proletarian class today to organise itself. He puts accent on dogma but hardly analyses root cause of degeneration of revisionism. I wish he demonstrated the root of revisionism and diversionary trends in splintering the working class party.

There is also hardly any understanding of why India is still principally semi-feudal  or on the applicability of the Chinese peoples war theory in India.No mention of the predominace which still exists of money lenders and commission agents  and landless or poor peasants who lose cases and sell their land at almost ten times less their actual price.

Kobad replaces Leninist class analysis and practice when he narrates that psychology be given equal importance to Leninism. I strongly feel unlike Muthu that mentioning Stalinism is Trotskyism as Chairman Mao at the very root wished to rectify errors of Stalin neglecting the superstructure. No doubt today there are comrades who propagate that Maoism is principal and even treat it as a rupture of Leninism ,giving it another meaning to what the CPC gave it in 1969,like Comrdae Ajith(Murali)  or Joshua Moufawad Paul. Ironically Kobad makes no criticism of the Janashakti group for  initiating most opportunist unity. He refers to writings of Marx, Engels and Mao but not on Lenin’s whose teaching form the basis of Marxism. Kobad never touches upon how trends at international level like the Revolutionary Internationals it Movement diffused Leninism by prematurely advocating a Communist International. Kobad does not touch upon of infiltration of post-modernist trends are causing havoc to the organised movement worldwide. In my view Kobad’s viewpoint is  a reflection  of the trend that negates contribution of Comrade Stalin towards Leninism and treats Maoism as a separate entity in itself. I would have really liked Ghandy to touch upon writings of Antonio Gramsci.

I strongly nurse the fact that Kobad should have delved on how mass line was applied in erstwhile USSR and China from 1949-76., particularly summing up achievements of Cultural Revolution . No analsyis is made with all the literature coming out, on why the path of the Cultural Revolution in Chin a was traversed. Kobad made no reference to writers of recent times who analysed the reversal of the Shanghai commune like Hongsheng Jiang or Pao yu Ching who summed up history of China from 1949-78  and how capitalist restoration took place after 1978.He never touched upon the causes like splittism, left sectarian approach towards building united front, excessive infiltration of rightist commanders in the Peoples Liberation army, failure to continue the revolutionary commitees and provided for sufficient checking of the party of the masses, effect of Sino-Soviet conflict and the fact that China was waging the 1st revolution of that kind.

Kobad does not portray a concrete alternative to challenge fascism from a Leninist standpoint in terms of united front and prompted concept of a loose democratic front  having opportunist alliances with revisionist or ruling class sections. This is predominant in an interview with comrades from West Bengal.” All communist and socialist trends need to come on one platform (unity is not possible) with a single agenda of opposing the neo-liberal policies and its concurrent fascist policies. It needs a broad programme. In fact the farmers have shown the way on how to unite inspite of differences and govt intrigues. In this apologists of the fascists like the CPM need to be isolated from this platform while winning over any good elements within them. We have a past history on the role social democrats played in the rise of Hitler…..it I remember correctly “ Such a statement has no content of Marxist-Leninist analysis ,demarcating from revisionism or confronting a semi –feudal and semi-colonial state. Kobad does not formulate an agenda for initiating a proletarian class angle to build a united front. It fails to demarcate from opportunist or revisionist forces and soft-pedals with identity politics.

Kobad  praises China ‘For building on it’s Socialist base ‘ after so many Chinese workers and peasants have become impoverished ,corruption rampant and economic disparity increasing. There is no criticism of China’s expansionist policies, their deep collaboration with American imperialism and their plundering of other countries. China’s aggression in Phillipines recently a classical example.

He refers to writings of Marx, Engels and Mao but not on Lenin’s whose teaching form the basis of Marxism.Kobad never touches upon how trends at international level  like the Revolutionary Internationals it Movement diffused Leninism by prematurely advocating a Communist International. Kobad does not touch upon of infiltration of post-modernist trends are causing havoc to the organised movement worldwide. I think he should have addressed the aspect of Bolshevisation of the Indian Communist party.

I wish Kobad placed emphasis on critically studying the contradictory trends in India in the Communist camp  to assess how to confront revisionism and re-organise the party and the movement. I feel Kobad should re-asess his bracketing both parliamentary and non –parliamentary trends, which fails to recognise the genuine revolutionary camp within the Indian Communist Movement. I feel he should have thrown more light on the right opportunism pervading in the non-maoist Communist revolutionary camp that has led to the almost total capitulation of some groups. He also fails from a Marxist-Leninist perspective to summarize the complexity of subjective factors arising in era of globalisation which became a major obstacle for the growth if the Communist parties ,making no dialectical analysis on revisionism .I feel Kobad should have also highlighted how Ambedkarist trends  wishing to fuse ideology of Ambedkar with Marx or prompting Ambedkar as a social revolutionary  are vitiating the movement. I no  doubt admire Kobad for not slandering any revolutionary group or carrying a vendetta against any leader but his very need to refute C.P.I.(M.L.) Red Star secretary KN Ramachandran is ample proof of the need to give importance to revolutionary  polemics. The tirade of Comrade KN Ramachandran is a manifestation of revisionism of his party. In my view Kobad also failed to summarise the glorious contribution of naxalbari on India. I am also critical of Kobad’s  subtle admiration for industrialists like Bajaj,Mahendra or WIPRO. and also China today. He also fails to foresee how by adopting parliamentary tactics many Communist groups embraced rightist path and departed from agrarian revolution.

Comrade Chandrashekar  gives moral credit to Kobad’s effort but erroneously feels Kobad is not highlighting trend of neo-colonialism and accuses x-socialist countries of compromising with Socialism.” I welcome and congratulate Kobad Ghandy for posing the central questions being faced by the communist movement now, as they provoke us to join hands with him to find out a path forward by nurturing a collective vision.”

Quoting Kobad Ghandy when refuting KN Ramachandran writes   “I am not able to understand as to what KNR sought to achieve from this critique. At times he seems he was trying to put the gun on my shoulder to target others; at others it seems he was targeting me personally to agree to his mode of thought or else banding me a a Menshevik, Narodnik, and many other names.  Besides, it is rather superficial that he writes such a lengthy critique without so much as reading the book, merely basing on an interview in the Hindu. Can such a short interview reflect the entire views put in my book Fractured Freedom. The problem with KNR  is that even if he read the book, judging from his tone, he is willing to cut his feet to fit the shoe. i.e he has a preconceived view which he will some how portray as long as it does not fit his mode of thinking. So, for example, without reading the book he accuses me of not being self-critical, when I start with that. I also clearly state that what I have presented is an individual viewpoint and it will therefore have the limitations from not being that of a group or organisation. Inspite of this he makes such sweeping statements. Ofcourse that is his prerogative, yet if he were to present his achievements over the past half century maybe I could follow in his trail. But there is not a word on that; and merely an approach that “I have been correct from the start and I am correct now; at least now accept what I am saying”. But where is the practice to show it?

But before taking up some of the major points I must clarify that KNR is merely parroting the police/govt view of my supposed political association (with what intention I don’t know) even though the courts have decided otherwise and I have clearly stated that too. KNR seems taken in by the media and police rather than seeing the reality. Though in the entire book I have no where singled out any party/group he jumps to the conclusion that my critique is off a particular party/group. This is the type of dishonesty in many a left group/individual that is not willing to analyse their own years of activity but seeks to find fault with others to cover up their own failings.”

 

Kobad Ghandy answering Manish Azad below.

“What does Manish Azad (MA) feel is the reasons for the setback of revolutions/socialism worldwide?

What are the reasons for the stagnation in the communist/revolutionary movements in India?

What are his reflections of the growth and development of his own group/party ( I assume he is part of one though it is not mentioned) and as he feels revolution is inevitable when does he expect that his organisation will achieve it.

What was the reasons for the reversal of the GPCR, that too immediately after Mao’s death.

While recounting past revolutions – Paris Commune, Soviet, GPCR – he does not mention the Chinese revolution; why?

He mocks at the point I make that armed revolutions have only been successful during wars between the ruling classes; could he recount which revolutions he considers successful in peace times.

While negating the Bhakti movement and being silent on Ambedkar, Phule and Periyar he does not elaborate what should be the stand of the Marxists in India to the caste/dalit question. Please elaborate.

Methodology

MA’s methodology seems to be exactly the type which ails much of the left movement which I have tried to counter is Section III of my book Fractured Freedom. It is in the Chanakya style: pitting Anuradha (a dead person who cannot reply; that too a person he doesn’t probably know) against me; misquoting and misinterpreting points (I will elaborate in the answers); branding a different view to discredit it (Frankfurt School, Liu Shao Chi, etc); continuing in the dogmatic tradition treating Marxist texts as some Bhagvad Gita rather than a guide to action and not even trying to assess the cause for stagnation/setbacks in the movement. And finally, being totally uncritical to one’s own practice; thereby giving the impression that it is perfect following the Marxist classics to the T. I will ignore the sarcasm in my answers as it does not warrant comment at such low levels and only deal with the issues raised.

Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist. Toured India, particularly Punjab .Written on Mass movements ,,Massline,Maoism on blogs like Democracy and Class Struggle and frontierweekly .An avid cricket lover too who has posted writings on blogs like Pakpassion Indian Cricket Fans and Sulekha.com.

Email- thakor.harsh5@gmail.com


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