Crisis, which, whose?

Indian Subcontinent

Crises deluge this region considered a sub-continent in Asia. The questions are:

(1) Which crises?

(2) Whose crises are these?

(3) At which stage are these crises?

A question, also, encounters a part of the progressives: Are the endeavors for a revolutionary change going through a crisis?

The first three questions – which and whose, and which stage – help find out answer to the question related to revolutionary change.

Dominating classes: The region, once colonized by the British imperialism, is in permanent crisis since the exit of the colonial masters. Crisis during the colonial period was different from the neo-colonial period. This crisis in the neo-colonial period is of the dominating classes; and it’s multiple. Hence, it should be identified as crises instead of crisis.

The reason to identify as crises is:

The dominating capitals in the region are facing more than one crisis: Crisis in the areas of

(1) economy;

(2) politics;

(3) ruling machine;

(4) environment and ecology; and,

(5) ideology.

Economy: The crisis of production-distribution in the area of economy is permanent. It’s a crisis of mode of production. Above all, the crisis in social formation is omnipresent. The economy’s ties and knots with the imperialist world markets, and imperialist plunder/appropriation/exploitation increase the crisis. This crisis of the dominating classes doesn’t always outburst with catastrophic force. “Economic crisis may not involve political consequences tantamount to regime transformation: The Great Depression – or […] the specific crisis of the 1929 Wall Street Crash – toppled Weimar democracy but left the American and British regimes intact.” (Alan Knight, “Historical and theoretical considerations”, in Mattei Dogan and John Higley (ed.) Elites, Crises, and the Origins of Regimes, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., Lanham, Boulder, New York, Oxford, 1998) Dominating classes in this region is yet surviving its crisis in the area of economy.

Politics: Crisis in politics of the dominating classes in the region is as old as the crisis in economy. The political crisis is permanent. At no point in its contemporary history, the dominating classes have succeeded in producing a coherent, stable, acceptable, credible politics to its taxpayers. Factional fights of the dominating classes have repeatedly (1) exposed the real face of its politics; and (2) taken away the politics’ credibility and acceptability. Its taxpayers are coerced or allured or partly bribed to give “consent” to the politics while the taxpayers at every opportune moment reject the politics to the extent their capacity allows.

Ruling machine: The ruling machines in the region have not turned less in atrocity, barbarity, crudeness, cruelty, which consequently always create hatred and sense of rejection among the masses of the peoples. This, in turn, compels these machines to resort to the only available approach: turn crueler with every passing day, more beastly with its every failure in imposing its will, more coercive with its every bankruptcy to gain acceptability. The feeling of hatred and rejection among wide sections of taxpayers takes away all sorts of acceptability of the ruling machine. With passing time, all the machines are shredding off all layers of their masks although the masks are essential to impose the machines’ coercive power. Internally, contradictions riddle the machines, which are a major source of its weakness.

Environment: The area of environment and ecology mirrors the dominating classes’ crude interests, and utter failures, which in turn, increase appropriation/exploitation of human beings and nature.

Ideology: The dominating classes are gradually failing to make its ideology acceptable to the wider sections of the societies in the region. With the powers of coercion, lies and manipulations, it is always struggling to impose its ideology. In this travail, it finds no alternative other than invoking ideas more reactionary, backward and divisive in nature. Resorting to these hatred-filled ideas is one of its last tactics to impose its ideology – a part of its class war against its opponent classes. Nevertheless, this approach pushes away many parts of taxpayers from its orbit/influence.

Crises: The crises mentioned above are organically connected. These (1) are inter-connected; (2) influence/impact each other in multiple ways aggravating the whole situation; (3) sharpen contradictions including class contradictions. These always strain to smooth the contradictions. Smoothening of contradictions is beyond its capacity. This incapacity is inherent to it, and it can never overcome this inherent incapacity, as the economy it operates is the source of this incapacity.

The crises don’t spare the dominating classes itself. “Crises involve sharp confrontations among elites, and they often produce changes in elite composition and functioning that are manifested by new or significantly altered regimes.” (Mattei Dogan and John Higley, “Elites, crises, and regimes in comparative analysis”, in Dogan and Higley (ed.) op. cit.) This region has found confrontations among factions of the dominating classes.

Mattei Dogan and John Higley mention types of crises ruling elites face that occur (1) when territories achieve national independence, (2) from defeat in war, (3) when there’s revolution, (4) due to withdrawal of foreign support for ruling elites and the regimes they operate, (5) due to sudden break down of unstable regimes. (ibid.)

But, not all crises lead to collapse of a system. Even, all types of crises together may not always shake up a system. However, people’s discontent and hatred towards the ruling system, sometimes lessened, are not fully eliminated.

A number of ruling machines in the region are yet to resolve contradictions related to the ruling machines. These include:

(1) division of power between components of ruling machine;

(2) division of power and resources between the units forming federating entity; and,

(3) control over parts of ruling machine.

These reflect incapacity of the dominating classes to resolve contradictions within its camp cropping out of sharing of the resources, it appropriates/exploits, encroaches, plunders, pilfers, between factions. Their problem is: Which faction to grab how much?

These contradictions and failures of the dominating classes

(1) spill over to public life; and,

(2) faction(s) of the dominating classes pull over the public or its parts to settle accounts with rival faction(s).

This act goes in such a way that it sometimes

(1) questions the ruling machine or its part; and,

(2) erodes credibility and acceptability, whatever is there, of the machine or its part.

Competition, geopolitical/geostrategic rivalry in the imperialist world order creates competition/conflict/contradiction within the dominating classes.

Interests the dominating classes own cripples its capacity to attend to the essential needs of the taxpayers – more than one-sixth of the global population – although  those, the essential needs, are always required for reproduction of capital, and for sustaining relations, conditions and climate for appropriation/exploitation.

The scene that exists is of weakness, of crises, of erosion of the dominating classes.

Another aspect is there: the class war, which, in no narrow sense, the dominating classes unceasingly wage against the dominated classes. It intensifies the more as the dominating classes’ crises turn more acute and precarious, and the classes’ drive for higher profit intensifies. In shape and character, the class war turns  so ugly and brute that transgresses the “legitimate boundary” it has already erected for the sake of its ruling system’s acceptability, credibility and legitimacy in the eyes’ of the taxpayers/appropriated/exploited. The intensified class war by the dominating classes against the dominated classes is itself a show of the dominating classes’ crises.

The dominated classes: On the opposite, there’re the exploited classes, the people. The dominated classes are not going through any crisis. There’s no scope and basis for cropping up of any crisis in the pole of the people. That’s for historical, economic and, consequently, political reasons. In the ideological area, the same is the fact. There’re immense possibilities in the peoples’ pole.

There’re other important questions: How other classes are swinging? How are these classes aligning – who are their allies and foes? Are there ruptures in the dominating system?

Revolution: Debacle in revolutionary process is neither its dissolution nor disintegration, nor it’s complete and permanent defeat, a defeat forever. Revolutions experience debacles. It’s a near-to-regular incident in all revolutions – a process that goes through periods; and the periods experience high tides and low ebbs. The process doesn’t depend on a single element and a single action and reaction. Revolution isn’t an act carried on in a controlled-environment in laboratory, in a contradiction-tight chamber. Revolution isn’t organized and carried on by or with a single actor. Similarly, neither does it rely on a single factor, nor does it react in a single environment. Revolution doesn’t depend on any single person or a group of persons. Class struggle in an entire society drives revolution through phases – phases of retreat and debacle, of forward march and victory. “[M]movement”, writes Lenin, “proceeds in waves, a sudden drop following a rapid rise […]” (“Three crises”, Collected Works (CW), vol. 25, Progress Publishers, Moscow, erstwhile USSR, 1977)

As the classes involved with revolutionary process, with radical change, with a march for a new society don’t perish, so the revolution the classes organize doesn’t die. It can’t perish. Otherwise, the classes are to be perished. This region, as well as, revolutions in this region are not devoid of these facts. Therefore, revolutions in this region are alive and active, charging at times, and facing periods of stalemate at occasions – a show of power of opposing classes. This is the way social forces vying for a radical change encounter weakness in political and organizational terms at different turning points of history.

In this region, theories are being formulated while a few formulations are being discarded. Adventurism, hastiness not suitable to the time, individualistic and conspiratorial tactics are withering away. Time – experience – is teaching. It’s time with class struggle. Class struggle teaches, whether one likes or not, and the lessons prevail, even if the speed is slow or super-slow.

Lowbrow “revolutionaries” of today are abandoning spadework and learning, although spadework and learning are essential to formulate and sharpen theories, push back obstacles, and widen work. There’s no reason to disagree that a group of neo “revolutionaries” are super-enthusiasts, but useless and harmful enthusiasts. Their “enthusiasm” produces nothing but harm for revolutionary work. In societies, there’re super-active “social media”, the internet-based information channel, “warriors”. But, their hours of “work” are incoherent “talks” and “arguments”. Even, those are not publicity and propaganda material. Those super-active “warriors” have not spent minimum required hours to learn publicity and propaganda work; they have no propaganda plan and material. They don’t have “time” to help publications like Frontier although forward-looking publications are the need of the hour. They don’t feel ashamed for failing to keep their words of helping publications like Frontier although such information-dissemination medium and learning material is essential. The same goes with other spadework. They, however, help in a single way: Identification of the useless, the chatterer, the undisciplined element, identification of the implanted. During ebb, such elements, dubious, lumpen, ruffian in character, enter, and are implanted. These elements create indiscipline. But, the more revolutionary work is organized, the more these harmful elements wither away.

However, these “warriors” are not the whole of revolutionary work. There’re others engaged with spadework, organizational work, learning, and helping others learn. Learning is an essential work, which can never be ignored, not for a minute. It’s a slow process; and young learners, may be small in number in comparison to the need of the hour, are going through that process.

No doubt, there’re problems in the area of formulating theories, and in the area of practice. A question always hangs around: Are the slogans effective, appropriate to unite the masses of the exploited, the people, correctly addressing the situation? The slogans are tested in the arena of class struggle.

Revolutionary forces in respective areas are sorting out these problems. May be, the process is slow, in relative term, in areas. But, in areas, these are gradually getting out of confusion. Reality doesn’t allow, whether  one likes or not, to go berserk with theory as act of indiscipline, utopia, etc. bring nothing but the wrong theoretician’s destruction; and with that destruction, the wrong theory and the creator of the theory fades away. This has happened in this sub-continent many times. This will happen again. It’s part of the process. Class struggle will do this act – wipe out the wrong theories.

Along with this elimination of wrong theories, wrong practices will also wither away. Wrong practices can’t be exercised for long. This has also happened in this region for a number of times. Correct theories and correct practices will come out.

Practitioners – revolutionaries – will strengthen respective positions, instead. Nevertheless, that’s a tough and difficult fight; but that’ll happen, that has to happen, as that’s a part of the dialectical process in social arena.

There shouldn’t be any ambiguity that only economic crisis or only political crisis is not revolutionary crisis.

There’s, no doubt, insufficiency in class-consciousness and organization; there’s indiscipline, lumpen practice and slogan mongering instead of persistent effort by groups. These are part of the reality.

The situation, at times appears stagnant, demands a few tasks.

The “task now”, writes Lenin, “is to make a careful study of the forces, the classes, […] and to draw the relevant lessons [….] For it is the great significance of all crises that they make manifest what has been hidden; they cast aside all that is relative, superficial, and trivial; they sweep away the political litter and reveal the real mainsprings of the class struggle.” (“Lessons of the crisis”, CW, vol. 24, Progress Publishers, Moscow, erstwhile USSR, 1977, emphasis in the original.)

There’s another task: “[R]eflect upon the historical interrelation of events and the political, i.e., class, significance of the revolution’s present course.” (“Three crises”, op. cit., emphasis in the original.)

Thus, it’s found, there’re crises of the dominating classes while the dominated classes face problems and carry possibilities.

The article was published in Frontier Autumn Number 2020, vol. 53, no. 22-25, November 29-December 26, 2020, Kolkata, India. Its heading was “Whose crisis, which?”.

Farooque Chowdhury writes from Dhaka.

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