Commemorating the 13th martyrdom day of revolutionary working class leader Comrade Sunil Pal, a Central Convention was successfully organized jointly by IFTU (Sarwahara) and Proletarian People’s Front at Gandhi Peace Foundation in Delhi on December 29th in, from 10 am to 5 pm. The topic of this convention was “Challenges ahead in the path of the revolutionary workers’ and peasants’ movement and our tasks”.
Com. Sunil Pal, was a reputed labour leader from the Asansol-Ranigunge coal belt, who was assassinated in his trade union office by unidentified assailants. Sunil Pal was a naxalite leader from the ’70s and had been a popular organizer and leader of coal miners in the coal belt in West Bengal since the 1980s. He was affiliated to the Indian Federation of Trade Unions. In the coal belt areas, he was amongst the pioneering organisers of women who had lost their husbands in mining accidents and who were denied compensation or jobs. He was also an ever consistent participant in all mass movements in West Bengal, be it in support of Singur or Nandigram or Lalgarh or against UAPA. On 29th December evening, he had just returned from a meeting of fasting workers in Dishergarh, and was working in his office at around 6 pm when the hired killers entered and fired 24 rounds at him. 16 bullets were recovered from his body.
Comrade Pal’s entire life, right from the inception of his college life in Raniganj in 1977 till his martyrdom in the evening of 29th December 2009 when his body was showered with dozens of bullets fired by hired goons of CPM, was devoted to defending or fighting for the interests of the working class. Till his assassination, his fingers tapped the keyboard of the typewriter in the union office. After choosing this path, inspite of confronting strong hurdles in his personal life, he unflinchingly never diverted from his path. We all have imbibed important lessons other from all aspects of his life. It was his great revolutionary resilience that enabled him to successfully steer struggles which looked dead and buried The word “impossible” was obliterated from his life’s theme, whether the ongoing struggle was within or outside the periphery of legal rights.
The main themes encompassed how corporate capital was patronising the stripping of all rights of the working class and the peasantry and how basic bourgeois democracy is under threat. It dealt with linking the movements of the workers with farmers in the countryside. The majority of groups felt that capitalism was the main enemy and not feudalism, with greater emphasis placed on working class movements over agrarian movements. In general it negated Chinese path of revolution. All unanimously vowed to confront the danger of Hindutva fascism by building a protracted movement.
Organizers had asked Proletarian Reorganizing Committee, CPI ML to prepare the approach paper that formed the basis of discussion on the topic. PRC accepted it and subsequently the paper was prepared by its General Secretary Comrade Ajay Sinha and also presented by him at the beginning of the Convention. English and Hindi versions of the approach paper had been sent to all the participants and other organisations before the Convention.
Report of Convention
About 100 delegates from Delhi, West Bengal, Bihar, UP and Maharashtra assembled in the hall on behalf of IFTUS and PPF, out of which the number of working-class comrades totalled more than 75. Various parties, organizations and groups of India’s revolutionary working-class movement actively participated in the discussion.
Speakers from a total of 13 organizations presented their views from the dias after the presentation of the paper. They included – PJ James (General Secretary, CPI ML Red Star), Lakhwinder (Mukti Sangram Mazdoor Manch), Alik Chakraborty (Central Committee Member, TUCI), Kheemanand (President, IMK), Mukesh Aseem (PPF Maharashtra and Ed Board Member of The Truth & Yatharth Magazines), PK Shahi (CCM, CPI ML Class Struggle), Alok (Mazdoor Ekta Kendra), Shreya (Mehnatkash Magazine), Arjun Prasad Singh (Democratic People’s Front), Rajendra Prasad Singh (Manthan Magazine), Vikram (Desh Videsh Magazine), Raghubir Singh (Jan Sangharsh Manch Haryana), and Subhash (Shramik Sangram Committee).
All the speakers not only expressed their views on the subject but also expressed admiration towards the initiative of holding this joint discussion within the revolutionary movement and encouraged the organizers to elevate it to its next stage. Live recording of all the speeches are available on this Facebook page of IFTUS. In addition to this, written responses to the Approach Paper were sent by Communist Propaganda Forum, Tamil Nadu and Krantikari Mazdoor Morcha, Faridabad. Also, written greetings were sent by Lal Jhanda Mazdoor Union (Samanvay Samiti), Communist Party of Tamil Nadu (MLM), and New Democratic Labour Front (Tamil Nadu Pondicherry) wishing success to the Convention. All these efforts were duly noted and mentioned by the Presidium from the dias. Apart from these organizations, comrades from Revolutionary Democracy Magazine (Vijay Singh), Chaupal (Kamlesh Kamal), Bhagat Singh Chhatra Ekta Manch, Yuva Sangharsh Manch, Collective, Krantikari Lok Adhikar Sangathan, Morcha Patrika, Swadesh Sinha and some independent students and intellectuals were present in the Convention hall.
Messages or participation were missed from organisations like CPI(ML)New Democracy, CPI(Maoist) CPI(ML)Liberation ,Bigul Mazdoor Dasta or Communist Party Re-Organisation Centre of India (Marxist-Leninist).Regretful that no presence from sections from Telengana and Andhra Pradesh.
Important revolutionary literature was also made accessible to the attendees by comrades of Sarwahara Prakashan, Gargi Prakashan, and Antarrashtriya Prakashan, along with the organizers, by setting up book stalls in the hall. Comrades of ‘Go Red’ put up poster stalls that installed some beautiful revolutionary posters.
The convention began with the welcome note by Comrade Kanchan following which revolutionary tributes were paid by all to the martyrs of IFTU as well as all the martyrs of the world communist movement.
The program was jointly presided over by Comrade Akanksha, Ramdayal, Ramnaresh, and Ramcharitra. Two revolutionary songs (“Lal Jhanda Jaan Se Bhi Pyaara Hai” and “Zamana Badlega”) were presented by the cultural teams of Bengal and Bihar at the beginning of both the discussion sessions, of which Comrade Kaushik, Rekha, Satyendra, Arjun, Shailee, Umesh Nirala etc. were a part. After all the presentations were over in the limited time, a summary of the discussion (brief, due to paucity of time) was presented by Comrade Ajay Sinha
. Following this, on behalf of the Presidium, comrade Akanksha vowed that a formal and purposeful sum up of the discussion would soon be released and based on the programme of impactful revolutionary penetration in the workers’ and farmers’ movement, a follow up meeting of the present as well as revolutionary forces absent, would be called in the coming time to discuss the direction and tasks ahead. Finally, the convention was formally concluded by comrade Siddhant’s vote of thanks.
The conference was an important stepping stone in consolidating the unity of working class forces to confront neo-fascist globalisation and capitalism. It encompassed a vast range of spheres challenging the working class and farmer’s movement. A wide conglomeration of political trend with Marxist-Leninist camp participated, which was impressive. It promoted healthy mutual exchange of participating groups. Above all it upheld Marxist-Leninist spirit of debate and combated sectarianism. Today a cohesive All -lndia Marxist Leninist party is lacking .Workers organisations also have to delve into the modifications of production methods and lives or condition of working class created by globalisation in recent years and appropriately formulate strategies for organising it.
It encompassed how corporate capital was patronising the stripping of all rights of the working class and the peasantry and how basic bourgeois democracy is under threat. It dealt with linking the movements of the workers with farmers in the countryside. All unanimously vowed to confront the danger of Hindutva fascism by building a protracted movement.
A possible weakness here was lacking perspective of agrarian revolutionary movement being the principal task or treating feudalism as the principal enemy. The majority of groups felt that capitalism was the main enemy and not feudalism, with greater emphasis placed on working class movements over agrarian movements. In general it negated Chinese path of revolution.
The approach paper prepared by PRC, CPI (ML) comprehensively dealt with demarcation between reformists and revolutionaries on Intermediaries cry for liberation, distinguishing between Leninism and alien trends. It stresses on the principal role of the proletariat. It differentiates between the meaning of emancipation for the working class from emancipation of the propertied classes or owners o capital. It also evaluates distinction between Working class perspectives from small capital perspective .It narrated weakness of subjective forces amongst the working class, currently and inter relationship between monopoly capital and fascist growth. The weakness of lack of Leninist grasp and fragmented party and revolutionary movement. was also highlighted as a result of usurpation of revisionist in USSR in 1956.Lenin and Stalin’s contributions were upheld but strangely not that of Mao Tse Tung.Paper is a must read for all progressive people.
:”The role of emancipating all others before emancipating itself – exclusively belongs to the proletariat. This hasn’t changed and will not change even in future. Such an emancipatory role cannot be played by any propertied class with ownership of capital. It was Marx-Engels who first envisioned this role as the historical mission of the proletariat more than 150 years ago from now.2 However, this emancipatory role and historical mission of the proletariat had never been more clearly understood or felt than as of now when the onward march of capital is threatening not only the existence of working class by pushing it in acute penury, but also those who are the “owners” of small capital.
This is how the latest cry of emancipation of small capitals is linked with the realisation of the historical mission of the proletariat. “
“What does the word emancipation mean for the intermediary classes? What must we be wary of while talking about it? The answer of the first question has already been given i.e., emancipation from being expropriated and nothing else, whereas for the proletariat and other toiling classes, the same word means emancipation from capital as such and from all its forms. In essence, there is no difference between these two presentations. But for revisionists and others of the same ilk, emancipation from finance capital is just putting restrictions and brakes on the free and anarchic movement of finance capital throughout the world which is impossible under rule of capital. It worked in the past to emancipate at least the intermediary classes from the monopoly capital in the forms of reforms and doles, but now it is impossible. The truth is that even intermediary classes can be emancipated only when the capitalist system is done away with i.e., first of all the means of production such as land and machineries etc are striped or freed of its character as capital or commodities. This brings the emancipation of the intermediary classes from finance capital and the emancipation of the proletariat from the capital as a whole to merge into one act. So, one must be rightly aware of the revisionist trick to use the phrase emancipation from finance capital for postponing and negating the need of the revolutionary overthrow of the rule of capital. However, even these revisionist tactics has outlived their purpose as the era of policy of reforms (give and take policy as an instrument of immediate compromise between small and big capital) is gone, and gone for ever.”
“In India, the interests of corporate capital and the mechanism of fascism are so intertwined in one that they together have already destroyed democracy, trampled all democratic rights and have eat into the democratic institutions including that of the judiciary. All now stand kissing ground and are beyond recognition, helping the fascists enslave people and toiling masses along with other strata of the society. It has chained the old capitalist economy and transformed it into a new capitalist system. Its quintessence is monopoly and medieval barbarism and the enslavement of all (workers, toilers, small and medium capital taken together) by the most powerful among the magnets of finance capital. People at large feel materially that those days, when their fortunes could also grow, are gone and gone for ever. This also brings to light the question of merger of immediate and final tasks in meeting the above said challenges that the topic suggests. This we have been saying for the last five years. It also makes as clear as day light from whom the world of people want emancipation. It is the monopoly of today’s finance capital from emancipation as apportioned in people’s imagination based on their immediate class positions is being sought. Some may take these “immediate class positions” impossible to be resolved, but it is not true. The merciless attacks of finance capital will this for us by expropriating them or posing this as immediate danger to them. This present political dispensation in India is also fostered by finance capital or big corporate capital as they are mentioned in India. This has brought Indian state at war with the society, a war between society and capital.”
Quoting the conclusion of the PRC paper “Comrades! Our discussion has so far clearly established that objective situation is ripe while our subjective preparations are in complete shambles i.e., it is yet to take off, as there is no idea of what is to be done and where to begin at a time when fascist attacks are growing and the final takeover of the old bourgeois state machinery is on the verge of completion. It has brought the movement in the state of inaction amidst utter despair and confusion. If we can remember, the movement first of all denied any such possibility as the fascist takeover of the bourgeois state, mostly on technical bases. Now when it has become a real threat, a state of complete disarray coupled with panic and bewilderness is palpable and can be easily felt in the revolutionary camp, giving rise to many alien tendencies along with left and right opportunism. While in 8 years of Modi’s rule, the objective situation has developed in our favour to such an extent that any anti-fascist and anti-monopoly capital struggle if led by the proletarian revolutionary forces can easily and uninterruptedly grow into a social revolution, still the revolutionary movement isn’t ready to even understand its necessity. While the world of capital headed by monopoly finance capital has launched a civil war against the world of people, we are not yet ready to accept it and hence it is natural that we keep denying from preparing for ourselves to chart out a revolutionary path with a well-defined set of tasks at such an important turn of history. What is the scenario? While a section of revolutionary movement invests its time and energy to unify the revolutionaries into a single revolutionary party of the proletariat without exhausting revolutionary polemics, yet there are others who having failed in unity efforts over past years and hence now declare that only a united front at the level of mass organisations is possible. DR-SR divide is still working to our great disadvantage. The real problem is that our revolutionary movement has failed in applying Marxism as a science that is a guide to action. So, there is difference of opinion on every important issue that matters in meeting the challenges that lie ahead in the path of revolutionary people’s movement. That’s why, while a decade of final decisive battle lies before us, it hardly matters anything much for the revolutionary camp. In every practical struggle, reformism and economism has a complete sway in the movement without any exception. Accordingly, no serious attempt for subjective preparations with an aim of consolidation of revolutionary forces can be seen on the agenda. The crux of the problem lies in the grasping of Leninist theory of revolutionary opportunism that enables us with a visionary insight to utilise every favourable objective situation for realising the historical mission. Therefore, the fragmented state of the revolutionary movement is just one reason but not the whole reason. A defeatist trend had already crept in following the historical defeat of the proletariat with the rise of the arch-
revisionist Khrushchev in Soviet Union after the death of Stalin. The historical retreat that came into being after that still continues even today. That cycle needs to be broken. How will that cycle be broken is an issue that again hardly matters for us revolutionaries. For that an extraordinary effort at an extraordinary time is the most needed thing but a concern for this is conspicuously absent. To us, it is clear that this can be achieved only by emulating Lenin and Stalin, the leaders of the torch bearer October Revolution. “
We must learn from these ringing words of Rosa Luxemburg that give just a hint of how the Bolsheviks transformed themselves from a tiny minority into a major striking force that commanded the respect and honour of the majority of Russian people in just few months before the October Revolution. Listen to what Rosa says about the success of October Revolution and the revolutionary tactics followed by Bolsheviks –
“In this situation, the Bolshevik tendency performed the historic service of having proclaimed from the very beginning, and having followed with iron consistency, those tactics which alone could save democracy and drive the revolution ahead. … this was the sword stroke with which they cut the Gordian knot, freed the revolution from a narrow blind alley and opened up for it an untrammelled path into the free and open fields.”
“The party of Lenin was thus the only one in Russia which grasped the true interest of the revolution in that first period. … it was the only party which really carried on a socialist policy. … It is this which makes clear why it was that the Bolsheviks, though they were at the beginning of the revolution a persecuted, slandered and hunted minority attacked on all sides, (who) arrived within the shortest time to the head of the revolution and were able to bring under their banner all the genuine masses of the people: the urban proletariat, the army, the peasants, as well as the revolutionary elements of democracy, the left wing of the Socialist Revolutionaries. The real situation … narrowed down in a few months to this alternative: victory of the counter-revolution or dictatorship of the proletariat – Kaledin or Lenin. Such was the objective situation, . as it presented itself in Russia as a result of the concrete, burning questions of peace and land, for which there was no solution within the framework of bourgeois revolution. In this, the Russian Revolution has but confirmed the basic lesson of every great revolution, the law of its being, which decrees: either the revolution must advance at a rapid, stormy, resolute tempo, break down all barriers with an iron hand and place its goals ever farther ahead, or it is quite soon thrown backward behind its feeble point of departure and suppressed by counterrevolution. To stand still, to mark time on one spot, to be contented with the first goal it happens to reach, is never possible in revolution. And he who tries to apply the home-made wisdom derived from parliamentary battles between frogs and mice to the field of revolutionary tactics only shows thereby that the very psychology and laws of existence of revolution are alien to him and that all historical experience is to him a book sealed with seven seals.”
This is only a single glimpse of how challenges that lay at one time in the path of Russian proletarian revolution were overcome. Comrades! I call upon. Please come and follow the way shown by Comrade Lenin and the Bolshevik Revolution led by him, according to which sometimes there arises a great necessity to tread along “an untrammelled” path so as to free ourselves “from a narrow blind alley” and open up for ourselves “an open field.” Let us show courage. If there is none of the old paths left that may lead to success, then come and travel along an unbeaten path. The sooner we grasp it, the better.”
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has covered mass movements all around India