number 16, July 1995


    Seeing clear cut forests on the British Columbia mountains, people experience desecreation, and a disgust at the lumber industry's drive for profit. Some Green activists are driven to oppose industrialisation and development. They believe development and "Marxists" abuse the peasantry. But Marxist-Leninists argue that turning history back is impossible. They embrace development in order to liberate society from mind and back breaking work; and to develop ALL human faculties. Development includes industrialisation, which Green activists criticise; instead prescribing a "Green" path for colonial countries, or "SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT".
    Some Greens dwell in, and try to resurrect a Utopian past. This backward gaze arose in attacks on agri-business, lumber and heavy industry. But capitalist environmental spoilage is a "normal", though offensive, part of capitalist development. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels saw this destruction; but also saw the simultaneous creation of the class bringing socialism:
    Two Indian activists Vandana Shiva (a Green) and Gail Omvedt (a peasant activist) are in the fore of farmers and peasant movements, described loosely as "eco ­ feminist". Shiva decries "Dead White Men"'s patriarchy, and Omvedt says Marxism has "failed". Why should Marxist-Leninists devote time to these "bourgeois" authors?
    The Greens helped organise mass rallies (3-400,000) in New Delhi, against foreign agri-business. Indian "Greens" command attention. But they are prey to romantic anti-modernisms, that appeal to many. This mystic, religious appeal has drawn Western alienated youth, since the days of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834). Vandana Shiva insists that peasant movements be based upon Satyghara and Gandhism; and ancient planting methods. Omvedt proclaims industrialisation is passe; and that Marxists suck peasant blood. These are old debates; they took place in the USSR.
    Did the former USSR and the Warsaw Pact countries abuse ecology? In the post-Stalin years - Yes! Chernobyl chilled us, reinforcing a backward looking Utopianism. Abuses in the ex-Warsaw Pact, supposedly show Socialism itself is anti-ecological. This is false. Firstly, of the Warsaw Pact only the Soviet Union established socialism. Secondly, during Stalin's era, ecology policy was sound and based on nature. The historian of Soviet science, Loren Graham agrees:
    Marxist-Leninists, must extract the progressive core and discard the romantic utopianism of the Greens. Otherwise another generation of activists is lost. Here we critique Vandana Shiva and Gail Omvedt; dealing with the role of heavy industry, and technology, and the leading role of the working class. We reject charges that "industrialisation" per se - irrespective of the social system - is inevitably associated with ecological abuse. We show the Liberman capitalist "reforms" under Brezhnev leading to ecological abuse in the former Soviet Union. Finally, we examine charges, that Stalin destroyed the agricultural ecology of the Soviet Union.
    Shiva has received great critical acclaim and veneration, even winning the "Alternative Nobel Prize". What does she say?
    Perhaps Shiva herself would say, that her central theme, is that it is primarily women who can overcome a "Reductionist view of the 'passivity of the earth'". This links with her overall view that, a reductionist science and biology was established by classical "white patriarchal" thinkers like Francis de Verulam Bacon (1561-1626). Apparently, this white reductionist science was aimed at, and resulted in, a conscious act of domination over nature. This "separated" parts of nature from herself. Marxist-Leninists use the term "alienation", and we believe this is what she means.
    Her philosophical base then, runs from the creation of a conscious reductionism that "masters" science; then overturns a Previous Harmony between all parts of nature, including ourselves. This results in a profound alienation. This alienation originates in white dominated patriarchy.

    Here we deal only briefly, with "feminism" and women versus men. But we will quote Shiva extensively on this. She cites Evelyn Fox Keller:

    Shiva and other eco-feminists (Carolyn Merchant, Evelyn Fox Keller etc) all object to Baconian science. These objections begins with Bacon's terminology (Nature - she; Science - He):
    But the objections that are raised, go beyond mere terminology. They relate to the scientific method itself:
    The notions of a controlled experiment are repugnant to Shiva:
    For the eco-feminists this Baconian vision renders Mother Nature into powerlessness; into becoming the passive recipient of whatever male society wanted to do to her. This rendering "removed all restraint", and the scientific revolution "functioned as cultural sanctions for the denudation of nature" (Shiva 2. p.17). Shiva sees this as part of the capitalist exploitation of the world, and the expropriation of "original inhabitants" - whether the Maori in New Zealand, the North American Indian, or the Indian sub-continental peasant:
    Moreover, for Shiva, Reductionist Biology assisted the displacement of women (It is true that Shiva acknowledges that ALL peasants and tribals may also be displaced, even if they are not women - See Shiva 2, p.2) from "productive activity". Even more sinister, this "patriarchal biology and science" is linked to the need to "develop" and obtain "surplus":
    There is a truth in the unity of nature. But rarely has a hymn to this truth been recited in such mystical tones. For Shiva, a re-uniting principle is the influence of ancient views (ie pre-modern scientific renaissance). Shiva joyfully enters Indian cosmology. One can paraphrase this as a sort of spiritual plea to "Let us get back to basics."
    Armed with this newly energised, swirling demoness of Shakti, from this underlying and complex philosophical base, Shiva strikes out with her more direct ecological arguments.
    Firstly, she identifies a "FATAL FLAW" in previous thought. This is that "scarcity" is a fundamental underpinning to the current ecological crisis. This error assumes that nature is the source of economic scarcity. Resulting social tensions are usually seen, says Shiva, as a necessary and inevitable violent struggle over scarce resources. A further consequence implicates all development as necessarily bad. Because, in order to generate "material abundance":
    Against this "fatal flaw", Shiva proposes that Nature is generally munificent and abundant in her provision for humanity. But.. humanity messes up this Ideal relationship.
    Secondly, Shiva asserts that both "the left and the right" share this 'view of scarcity and of violence'. This facilitated "development", which was inherently bad; as the entire political spectrum was in agreement:
    Thirdly, she attacks the "Green Revolution". Loosely defined, this is the technical change associated with "new seeds" (really highly selected seeds originally from the Third World) that are "High Yield Varieties". This technology was pioneered by a USA scientist, Norman Borlaug. Neither Shiva nor other writers comment on the underlying bias to traditional Western genetics. This understands, that environmental changes count for little to explain nature, the genes explain all.
    Shiva shows that the Borlaug missions, were stimulated by fear of impoverished Third World peasant insurrections and communism. The Green Revolution also fostered dependency of underdeveloped countries on the West. Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Prize. Shiva shows the Green Revolution impoverishes the seed and bio-diversity available to Indian peasants. Further, the Green Revolution seeds demand lots of fertiliser and water; therefore the actual real yield is low; and water resources become a serious concern. In contrast, if traditional practices are compared, new "Green Technology" seeds are worse; with a lower bio-availability of useful natural fertiliser.

    Fourthly, Shiva attacks the social results of the Green Revolution. She shares ground with many other critics. The Green Revolution was driven by the desire of the social elites to make profit. Whatever profits were made in the countryside, this accentuates the class divisions of the countryside. As a consequence the peasantry is even worse off, rather than better.

    Fifthly, Shiva attacks the fostered dependency upon the West. The "new", "foreign" seeds and technology are patented and available only under license. "Foreign" seeds have often originally been taken from peasants who for aeons have used them, and now are sold back to them as a "new patented product". New patent laws (foisted by Arthur Dunkel, of The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade [GATT]) allow foreign "ownership" of seeds originally from the fields of the peasants themselves. Foreign companies then link these seeds to further profiteering. Seeds are engineered to be resistant to various herbicides and chemicals. This creates a costly package. This now becomes a single, essential, more costly package, containing both seed and chemicals for the new genes:

    Sixthly, Shiva believes that the social upheaval in the Indian Punjab is directly due to the Green Revolution. Obviously, this is a gross over-simplification of a national struggle taking place in a multi-national state. But thankfully - she explicitly disclaims views of religion as the root of Punjabi turmoils. She also provides data showing that the process of big farmer swallowing up the little farmers is an ongoing dynamic in the Punjabi countryside. This drives social unrest and tensions. But, she believes it is the sole reason for the eruption of struggles in Punjab.
    What are Shiva's solutions?
    Shiva's alternatives to development, revolve around a pre-industrial, native technology.
    She embraces Mohandas K. Gandhi :
    Marxist-Leninists would say:
    But, the main point, is that she wishes a Gandhian view of life:
    Shiva describes Gandhi's search for "regeneration of livelihoods" in India; how he resurrected the hand mill known in India as the CHARKHA. This thriving industry was devastated by the power mills of Lancashire as Marx described. Gandhi in 1917 had to search in India for even one Charkha, which had already been put away by its owners as useless. Shiva does not inform us how many she finds now in India. The Charkha became Gandhi's sybmol, and for Shiva it epitomises the dilemma:
    She invokes various movements as models, which she traces to Gandhi. For instance she traces "The Chipko Movement", of the people of Garwhal Himalayas in India to Mira Behn, a disciple of Gandhi who moved to the Himalayas in the 40's. Mira Behn trained a man, Sunderlal Bahuguna who married Bimla Behn (another disciple of Gandhi). The "problem" of a male intermediary is taken care of however. In Shiva's account, only when Bahuguna "learnt to listen to the quiet voices of women" was he able to "articulate the feminine ecological principles of Chipko." (Shiva 2. p.68-77). Others would contest her Gandhian biased view.
    The Chipko movement did mobilise people against the logging and commercial exploitation of the hill forests of Uttar Pradesh. Similar movements advocated re-forestation with diverse, native species (mango, tamarind, jackfruit and bonge) rather than the imported monoculture of eucalyptus. Courting arrest, people (mainly women) uprooted eucalyptus seedlings, replacing them by native species. (Shiva 2, p.77-80). Even she sees that other movements were spontaneous, and not so driven by some form of Gandhian wisdom. Amongst those, many are centred upon the protection of COMMONS LAND. "Commons" are lands historically designated for use by the whole population, this land is being steadily privatised and usurped (Shiva 2 p.83-95). Commons Land is very important as:
    The usurpation of this land is resisted by such peasant movements as the "Mannu Rashana Koota" or "Movement for Saving The Soil". These are largely spontaneous movements.
    Shiva's analysis is a complex eclectic mixture. But Marxist-Leninists are immediately attracted to parts - such as her assault on foreign imperialist big corporations. It is quite true that imperialism distorted social reality in the countryside of the developing world, as she says. She describes very well the chain of dependent command they have built : from seed originally stolen for the peasant, through to its' genetic engineering, and dependence on the companies' own chemical products, through the international legal charades of absurd patent laws. All this is spot on.
    But what solutions does she offer? And in rejecting this "imperialist" usurpation of rural life, why throw out the technological development baby with the bathwater of the ownership of that technology ? Does Shiva really not have a refrigerator in her household ? What are the deeper links of imperialism with the possibility of change in India ? Where does native, or national capital fit in ? And even more important and fundamental for Shiva, is her mystical view of ever bountiful Nature viable ? Why should one accept the feminine 'Prakriti'; any more than the masculine 'Jehovah' ?
    Firstly: She shows how intelligently the Indian peasant has dealt with her/his lot. Shiva is part of a real grass roots movement. These spontaneous movements have stood up to and defied exploitation (eg the usurpation of common land) testifiying to the militancy of the Indian peasant and poor. In Shiva 2, there are numerous references to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the forest and lowland peasantry - both men and women - though she refers only really to women. This led shrewd observers to note that the peasant farming had stood the test of time:
    Marxist-Leninists agree that workers and peasants are undervalued, for their brains and common sense, as well as for their labour, by their class enemy. W.David Hopper lived for 15 months in Senapur village (North India) concluding:
    It condemns the peasantry to stay within their nexus indefinitely; and it has no historical basis either for Indian history, or Western history. For one small instance, how can we take seriously the forthright assertions of Shiva that:
    What about the ecological impacts of the first faltering steps towards agricultural innovation? One "Dead White Male"- Frederick Engels - thought that the deserts of the Middle East were due to cultivation and de-forestation. Also were people ever hungry before "Devlopemnt"? Shiva perhaps thinks famines did NOT occur BEFORE British imperialism, during the "Harmonious relationship" between Prakriti and Purusha?
    Ecological damage was wreaked by "primitive" people. Though pre-industrial, they did create ecological havoc. For instance the native Rock Cree of the North American boreal forest. Believing in regeneration after death, they indiscriminately killed all species of animals to extremes, deluded that reincarnation would increase availability.(Lewis M.W."Green Delusions"; Durham NC;1992; p.63).
    The Second major Positive aspect of Shiva, is that she details the limits of the Green Revolution well, and its bad effects on the water reserves in India, eg. the Punjab. She demonstrates that "High Yield Variety" seeds are only so (ie. "high yielding") under "Ideal" conditions - and not in conditions of the field. This is very valuable. Even better, she notes the additional, indirect, non-calorific values, in the non-grain component of seeds that have been traditionally used. These include the use of the straw for fodder and for organic fertiliser:
    All this, exposes how the multi-national corporations and big farmers gain from the enhanced technology of monoculture. Monoculture is driven by the market and the intensifying search for profit. But, although Shiva sees the root cause (imperialism and market driven production), she cannot link it historically, nor pose adequate solutions.
    This would move from the national democratic revolution through to the socialist revolution. It needs differentiation of the peasant strata (Big, middle and poor) with appropriate tactics to each strata. It requires recognising the ever increasing proletariat as the leading force in this revolution. It requires ownership of the means of production by the workers and peasants; and a planned economy based not on profit but need. Shiva does not even see these steps.
    Actually Shiva's comments in fact are often faint echoes of clearer liberal activists. For instance, one louder and clearer voice is that of SUSAN GEORGE ("How the Other Half Dies - The Real Reason for World Hunger"; Harmondsworth, 1985). Both George and Shiva are non-Marxist activists in Third World agriculture, and have a natural overlap. Shiva's substantive points : the role of foreign (especially USA) imperialism in developing the Green revolution; the fact that agribusiness and the local rich elites profit from it; the dependency on chemical fertilisers and pesticides; the lack of increase in ploughed and farmed acreage due to the Green Revolution; the effects on the diets of the indigenous peoples of a shift to wheat and rice monoculture; the social impacts of the Green revolution in the third World etc. have all been already made by George. The themes are already long exposed.
    Even a cherished center of the Shiva story - "The Loss of Bio-diversity" is an old theme. Susan George cites INGRID PALMER's 5 year research into the Green Revolution :
    This is not an originality contest. But it is of interest, that Shiva is awarded the "Alternative" Nobel Prize, and the other is awarded book contracts. That George is more sharply focused on a central question : "Who controls power?" provides an explanation. Shiva's thrust is veiled by a constant yearning for what, in fact never even was in real existence - AN EASTERN IDYLL.
    Far from arguing against technology, George argues for more research and more technology, into innovations such as single cell protein (micro-organism such as yeast) fodder for animals (Ibid p.273). George correctly sees that the problem is NOT technology - it is WHO CONTROLS TECHNOLOGY FOR WHAT. Marxist-Leninists phrase this as : "Under capitalism the motive force for production is profit !" George makes a concrete real and political analysis; and urges her readers in an engaging final chapter to join the mass struggle and get involved. Whether Shiva really sees the role of capitalism is unclear. Shiva's enemy is "development", meaning "Westernisation". Her battle cry is "Back to the village and ancient way of doing things!" Instead of "New Seeds and Monoculture", she shouts "Use the traditional 5 grain and 10 grain methods". Her essential view is : "Stop the world now, let us go back to the ancient ways." Shiva does not even see, that this violates her own cherished ancient philosophy, where it is at its most dialectic. She stops the dialectic cold - to impose a mythical previous ideal.
        This violates even Shiva's own cherished ancient philosophy at its most dialectical. She stops the dialectic cold - to impose a mythical previous ideal.
    Another fatal flaw is her view of the human relationship to nature. From a warp of "anti-development" and a weft of a prescription for a Gandhian based change, Shiva weaves an entire reactionary fabric, shrouding her progressive views. Her whole anti-technology bias makes Shiva into a modern day LUDDITE (the spontaneous peasant movement that destroyed machines, in a vain attempt to industrialisation in Britain).
    Marx and Engels anticipated much of the positive part of Shiva.
    Ultimately, Shiva's "Utopian" approach fails.

    Being anti-development, Shiva cannot understand the history of civilisation, and its development. Develop it did, though. Shiva dislikes the philosophy of 'violence of the struggle against nature'. In contrast, Marx saw the relationship between Nature and humans as a dialectical process, as it existed - where humans exert their will. [Footnote: Digressing for a moment. Both Marx & Engels fully understood that the development of class society, developed simultaneously with female subjugation. Engels acknowledged Charles Fourier (1772-1837, a Socialist Utopian) who pointed out that socialists must help women to liberate themsleves. But Marx & Engels did use the masculine gender in their writings to refer to all men & women. We do not adjust their terminology, in the following quotes].

    Shiva's mystifies and "prettifies" Nature. She obfuscates the contradiction between human activity (clearing land) and an unspoiled Nature. This is misguided.
    Marx and Engels recognise this central fact of human life, and its ecological consequences :
    This supremely dialectical, modern and ecologically minded passage was written in June 1876. Presumably Shiva does not agree about the destruction of forests in Mesopotamia. An example closer to her home, also could show the myth of a "Harmonious world". The Indian ancient book of "The Mahabharata", has an incident showing the impact of pastoral life on food gatherers. Clearing the land by fire (Agni) resulted in vast ecological devastation:
    To revert to "Dead White Men"; Shiva appears not to know the names Marx or Engels. She knows dialectics only from the dialectical part of primitive Indian philosophy. Of course, it would be dangerous for her to acknowledge two of the prime exponents of dialectics. Marx and Engels thought that life was (in brutally short language) - an exertion of the human will against nature. An exertion, driven by constant increase in technology to increase productivity.
    Actually, the eco-feminists do not even acknowledge that the first fundamental critique of Bacon and reductionist science was offered by a "Dead, White Male". Let us listen to "Dead Voices". First, Engels paints a dialectical nature:
    Not Ancient Indian philosophy, but Ancient Greek philosophy. Indeed, these views can be traced in other civilizations. They reflect the universality of the development of history and civilization. Returning to our "Dead White Male", Engels now states the limitations of the Greeks. Why they could not transcend this correct - but naive dialectic view :
    Unlike Shiva, Engels knows that to study science you have to first "detach" topics. Shiva herself must know this, she was previously an atomic physicist! Even, her writing shows the analytical approach of one familiar with the need to describe first by detaching. Why then her fulminations and invectives against the "controlled experiment"? The pharmaceutical industry, against which Shiva correctly heavily inveighs, depends for medical profits, on a lack of correctly "controlled experiments". Yet Shiva sees "controlled experiments", as alienating!
    To proceed. Engels was a co-founder of dialectical materialist revolutionary socialism. Therefore it is un-surprising to find that he does know the inherent limitations of this "detaching" approach:
    Shiva tries to "obstruct" the inevitable. At least Canute when commanding the waves of the ocean back, knew he could not. Canute only wished to expose sycophants who claimed he could. To see the village as it really was, like Shiva, we also hark back. But we will hark back to another critic of Indian development -another "Dead White Male", Karl Marx. Marx had no illusions about village culture in India. For Marx the "bitterness" felt upon seeing the "crumbling of an ancient world", was tempered. How? By seeing that the British brutality in its wake created a future.
    Marx thought himself a failure as a poet; yet Marx loved poetry still. He cited JOHANNE WOLFGANG GOETHE, to illustrate how the past should be viewed. Romantics have never learnt this lesson, that one should not forget previous brutality :
"Sollte diese Qual uns quälen,
Da sie unsre Lust vermehrt;
Hat nicht Myriaden Seelen,
Timur's Herrschaft aufgezehrt?"
"Should this torture then torment us,
Since it brings us greater pleasure?
Were not through the rule of Timur,
Souls devoured without measure?"
Goethe, "Westöstlicher Diwan".
  Cited,"The British Rule in India":
                                     "Marx and Engels On Britain." Moscow; 1971; p.168.

    More analytically, though still feelingly, Marx takes us through to this conclusion, by stripping bare the reality that the ancient Hindoos (sic) created:

    Not to be misunderstood, Marx attacks British colonial viciousness:
    Marx lays out the mechanisms that underlay the "Hindoo" Indian state, those that codify the stultified oppression. In doing so, he describes the Oriental Despotic State:
    India's villagers had seen many waves of invaders. But with the British invasion, a qualitatively new phenomenon came. This was the destruction of the indigenous industrial base represented by the Indian hand-loom industry:
    Marx cited a graphic depiction of the restrictive, rigid, mind numbing narrowness of life in these villages, in an "old official report of the House Of Commons On Indian Affairs":
    This view of an unchanging Indian interior, is challenged. Some see this as diminishing the peasant. David Ludden says:
    Yet Ludden himself, confesses that, when British imperialism entered the scene amazing and dramatic things happened on an unprecedented scale:
    Ludden and recent history-revisionists, provide new "microcosm" data; unavailable to Marx. This is of interest. But it certainly does not challenge Marx's main conclusions. The major qualitative rupture with the past, came with imperialism. Many sources parallel Marx's condemnation of ancient Indian village life. Such as the tragic song of Sundari Malua. This narrative poem was written by the poetess Chandrabati (ca 1550-1600). It tells how a beautiful woman - Sundari Malua - married to Binod, is harassed by the local qazi (magistrate) and diwan (local lord). They and the priests, throw the family into penury and seize their land. Sunadari is driven to spend some nights in the Diwan's hauli. Even though she is rescued and the family escape, the elders refuse to allow her to live in the village as she is defiled:
    Marx hated what was happening to the peasantry, but yet he saw the kernel of change carried by the unconscious tools of history, the British and their railroads:
    Movements inspired by Vandana Shiva's thoughts only lead to a stale recitation of "The Past". This past is gone.
    What history books does Shiva read? She asserts that nature and humans live in a harmony, only rocked by technology. But this is a fantastic unreality. The nexus between Nature and man is not easy. Humans are distinguished from other animals, because of their ability to labour with the elements of Nature:
    Shiva sees only a bucolic past. But, did famines only occur, when the British imperialists came to the Indian sub-continent ? Even many Marxists claim that famine only began with the advent of the British into India. Thus Rajani Palme Dutt in his "India Today", which influenced countless Marxist inspired militants, says:
    Despite Dutt, Tavernier and Shiva; famines DID occur before the British came. Kachhawaha lists various Rajasthani sayings that poignantly record the times of Bhook- of famine :
    As Kachhawaha points out:
    Of course the historical record before the British came, is not quite so good as after, but some information is clear:
    The Battle of Plassey was won in 1757 by Robert Clive [later Lord Clive of India]. Clive defeated the Indian Mutiny rebels led by Siraj-Ud-Dawlah, and became the effective ruler of Bengal, sealing British rule over India.
    Cornelius Walford in his addresses to the Royal Society of London, itemised all recorded World famines he could track down in 1879, before and after British rule, and Indian famines were prominent in both periods (See: "The Famines of The World -Past and Present." London, 1879. Republished Burt Franklin, New York, 1970).
    R.P.Dutt was correct in that the British exacerbated the famines by deliberate neglect of the irrigation. This was a central concern of pre-British agriculture and formed the backbone of the system known as Oriental Despotism (See above). This system is contested. But all scholars agree that irrigation was and is a major concern in Indian agriculture.
    It is also perfectly true as cited by Palme Dutt (Ibid, p. 21) that:
    This buttresses Walford's point that the causes of famine could be divided into natural causes (rain, drought, fire, locusts etc) and "artificial" (Government legislation, poor agricultural habits, speculation, transport deficiencies etc). In the India of today, there can be little doubt that the main causes of hunger and poverty are not "natural", but totally "artificial". But poverty and hunger is a "natural" consequence of the capitalist system. But this unequivocal diagnosis is not made by Shiva anywhere. Without a correct diagnosis, who can have confidence in her prescriptions?
    The question is, to which mythical past will Shiva return?

We have thus far avoided a serious question, is there really an environmental crisis? In answering Marxist-Leninists should avoid two primary dangers.

    It should be openly acknowledged that the environment is a genuine, major concern. Revisionists deny pollution in the Warsaw Pact countries. But Marxist-Leninists agree that capitalism is the pursuit of profit. When revisionist states restored the profit motive, this led to profit and thus pollution. This happened in the former Soviet Union.
    Environmental pollution was a problem after the E.G.Liberman "economic reforms", introduced by Leonid Brezhnev; General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) from 1964. Stalin resisted similar "reforms" promoted by Nikolai Voznosensky in 1948 (See Alliance 9). After Stalin's death, the "reforms" - in reality the destruction of socialist planning and centralised control of production - were enacted. Under Liberman, Centralised planning was destroyed and replaced by "guidelines":
    The "guidelines" were sham, expressing "aims". In reality :
    This restored the profit motive for production, disguised under a veil of so-called
    Supposedly, this differed from "capitalist profit" (Bland Ibid p. 140). It supposedly differed, because:
    This is indeed profit, as Marx had said:
    But this was not "socialist profit"; despite claims made, the "profit" was not distributed amongst the people. The new capitalists got their profit, disguised as called "bonuses".
    For the managers bonus was decided by the state:
    The managers decide how much the worker get. But how much money ended up where ? What was the final split of the bonus? W.B.Bland, made the following calculations based on data in: Droginchinsky N.Y. "The Economic Reform in Action", In "Soviet Problems"; Moscow; 1972 p.194:
    The revisionists paid lip service to principles of harmony between humans and the environment:
    But pollution occurred in the USSR - after socialism was destroyed. Under the Liberman "economic reforms," each enterprise had to maximise profits and minimise production costs. This aim frequently conflicted with the social need to minimise pollution. USSR economists admitted:
    As a result the environmental pollution in the Soviet union reached dangerous levels, just as in orthodox capitalism:
    "Soviet" politicians supported in words, the reduction of pollution. The practice was quite different. Environmentalists agree that one of the chief causes of atmospheric pollution is motor transport. They also agreed, that any difficulty in producing a clean motor vehicle was economic, not technical :
    Environmentalists proposed that the number of cars be reduced. But because the car sector was "so important to the Soviet capitalist economy, this never occurred" (From Bland, ibid, Chapter 23, p 185-189).
Capitalism of any stripe, brings pollution of all sorts, including that of the environment.


    The second danger over emphasises and exaggerates hazards to the environment, a "crying wolf" tendency. This blunts recognition of real problems. The morass of claim and counter-claims have been examined by; for instance, Ronald Bailey whose "Eco-Scam" exposes Doom sayers (St Martin's Press, New York, 1993. ISBN 0-312-10971-7). These include well known ecological warriors such as Paul Erlich, David Foreman, and Carl Sagan. These warriors "trim their sails", when their dire predictions of apocalypse turn out to be false. He refutes:
    A special aspect of this second 'hyped' danger is population.
    Fears of over-population are especially potent. Charles Darwin (1809-82) absorbed the Victorian idea of individual bitter struggle for existence. This came from Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834). Darwin recounted a revelatory experience upon reading Malthus, as he "suddenly saw how nature struggled". Malthus, an economist working for the British East India Company, had a bleak message:
    This was buttressed by claims that the resources of food and environment could only arithmetically increase, whilst the population could increase by a geometric progression. Thus poverty was a natural law, and nothing could be done to alleviate its root cause. Malthusianism became a great ideological spur for the new Workhouses; called Bastilles by their inhabitants - the poorest of the working class. The New Poor Law workhouses, were predicated on the principle that the poor had to be "deterred" from "shying away" from work. Malthus provided a potent justification for poverty. The argument was shored up by the calculation that:
    Malthus' followers :
    The general increase in poverty stimulated the poor people to better themselves. This was "Natural Selection" aiding the "Survival of the Fittest" :
    Malthus was hated in his own time, by the best of the working class. Thomas Hood (1799-1852) had this to say:
"Oh Mr. Malthus I agree
In everything I read with thee!
The world's too full, there is no doubt,
And wants a deal of thinning out..
And yet some Wrongheads
With thick not long heads,
Poor metaphysicians!
Sign petitions
Capital punishment to abolish;
And in the face of censuses such vast ones
New hospitals contrive,
For keeping life alive,
Laying first stones, the dolts! instead of last ones!..
Why should we let precautions so absorb us,]
Or trouble shipping with a quarantine-
When if I understand the thing you mean,
We ought to IMPORT the Cholera Morbus!"
    Malthus and Neo-Malthusianism have always served ruling class ideology. Re­incarnations of these views (eg.Paul Ehrlich ("The Population Bomb", New York, 1968) periodically fuel concern. Gurus at the Cairo Population Conference, in September 1994 (sponsored by the World Bank and supposed "Development" agencies of the United Nations) offer panaceas to the Under-Developed World : cut consumption, have fewer children, in order to "Save the World".
    It is not difficult to disprove Malthus. The rapid increase in the world's population since Malthus, with a general increase in well being proves him wrong. Not that poverty world wide, is no longer a problem. But it is not one that socialist society could not alleviate. This is ignored by Neo-Malthusians. Malthusian views are still a challenge. They are used to justify poverty in the under-developed world, and in the West. But Birth Control programs, fail to remove poverty. These failures displays the blinkers that Malthusianism has to social, political, and economical class issues that transcend "biology".

    Mahmood Mamdani, in "The Myth of Population Control", (New York, 1972) exposes many of these present day neo-Malthusian blinkers. It emerges that of the many expensive programs for birth control up to 1972; that there were, only 3 programs with any scientific controls. This control should be a non-treated population. Then if birth rates show changes for any other reason at all, including chance, one can know what effect the program itself had. Without controls, it is impossible to know whether the treatment itself works.

    The three World Health Programmes (W.H.O.) were Kyong in South Korea, Singur in West Bengal and Khanna in North India. In Kyong - the 'exerimental' area where birth control was promoted vigorusly - the decline in births, as a rate of per 1000 of population, was equivalent or faster in the controls. The differences between year one and year two, were not "statistically significant". 
YEAR 1                                  6.8                                              9.7

YEAR 2                                   4.2                                             3.5

(From Mamdani, Ibid, p.15-29).
    Similar findings were seen in Singhur. In Khanna, there was indeed a decline in birth rates (From 40/1000 in 1957 to 35/1000 in 1968). BUT this difference was NOT accounted for by contraception, but by an increase in the age of marriage from 17.5 years in 1956 to 20 years in 1969. (Mamdani, Ibid, p. 28). The W.H.O. strategy did not work. Why not? The peasants wanted a large family for hard class facts. The need for most labour was most acute in the poorest families :
    The poorest needed the most to have numbers of people for physical strength for emergencies and class fights:
    These realities are a matter of blithe indifference to the modern day Malthusians who met in Cairo in 1994. Their solution to poverty is a simplistic biological reductionism.
    Data on child mortality from Zurbrigg shows the inhumanity of World Agencies in their approach (Sheila Zurbrigg: "Rakku's Story : Structures of Ill Health and Source of Change"; Bangalore; 1984). Zurbrigg shows that Indian child mortality remains very high in rural as compared to the urban areas (136 versus 70 per 1000 live births). Foreign relief agencies assume the poor are ignorant about nutrition; or that they are reluctant to accept modern medicine; or that they have too many children. Zurbrigg rightly points out three mistaken assumptions.
    On the Second wrong assumption, Zurbrigg notes that when you don't have money you use what you can. Modern Western medicine is expensive. Homeopathic native medicine is considerably cheaper (Zurbrigg p.69).
    On the Third wrong assumption, she corroborates Mamdani:
    Finally Zurbrigg also notes the motivation to focus on Population. Imperialist nations need to stabilise their semi-colonies. The intent of population control and poverty relief was revealed by a candid USAID Deputy-Director:
    Poverty and unemployment are social, and not biological issues. Marx pointed out the value of a standing army of unemployed to drive down labour costs :
    This underlies unemployment and associated poverty. The "Cairo Conference on Over-Population" (September 1994),cannot acknowledge these truths. Engels points out that Malthus followed Thomas Hobbes (English philosopher 1568-1679); who proclaimed "Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes" ("A war of all against all"). Malthus derived inspiration from this, in turn leading Darwin to his "struggle for existence". The argument originated in philosophy, was then applied to society, transferred to biology, and then applied back to society :
    The "shell game" of arguing from society back to nature back to society - still goes on under the label SOCIOBIOLOGY. Engels explains the more complex reality of nature. To accurately depict nature, "prejudiced and one sided" views should be avoided. On one biased side "An All Harmonious Nature", and on the other " An All Struggling Nature" :
    We have not given a systematic analysis of Gandhism. Elsewhere, we detail Gandhi's role as a comprador support of British imperialism ("The role of the national bourgeoisie in the colonial type countries. What is the class content of the Indian state?" Alliance Number 5). Certainly Time Incorporated has not yet approached Alliance for distribution rights. Other sources though, also show a similar picture.
    If more "reputable" source be required by Shiva, we refer Shiva to Dhanagare D.N. ("Peasant Movements In India 1920-1950", Oxford UP, Delhi, 1983). Dhanagare details how the famous Bardoli agitations , led by Gandhi, in reality benefited the rich peasantry. Dhanagare shows how Gandhi at key movements in the anti-British struggles sabotaged the mass struggles. Moreover a significant Indian activist, Mabendra Nath Roy (1887-1954, consulted by Jawaharlal Nehru no less); also dealt in detail with Gandhism. M.N. Roy, concurred with Dhanagare in this assessment of Gandhi (See Professor Sibnarayan Ray Editors :"The Selected Works of M.N.Roy" New Delhi, 1993, Oxford University Press 3 volumes).

    The fundamental flaws (at least three!) that we have tried to address in Shiva's views, lead inexorably to a host of other problems. For instance, her naive and ill thought out assertion that the problems of the Punjab today are due entirely to the Green Revolution and the loss of traditional farming practices.

    The realities of the multi-national question in India and the warped development of Punjab under a state dominated by one nation-the Gujerati-Marwari power brokers - is obviously news to Shiva. Moreover Shiva's explanation ignores power struggles going on between New Delhi and yet other States - Kashmir, the North East, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. ("The role of the national bourgeoisie in the colonial type countries. What is the class content of the Indian state?" Alliance Number 5).

    No possibility of a plea of ignorance on these issues exists. Many bourgeois academics and journalists (See for example,  Akbar M.J. "The Seige Within. Challenges to a Nation's Unity, Harmondsworth, 1985; Vanaik A. "The Painful Transition - bourgeois Democracy In India." London, 1990, etc) note these issues.

    Finally, Gandhism is certainly no effective solution to the concerns of India's population, nor for India's ecology. WE ARE COMPELLED TO SAY, THAT SHIVA HAS ONLY A BACKWARD GAZE. BY SO DOING, SHE ONLY CAN PRESCRIBE CHANGES BASED ON WHAT SHOULD BE DONE. THIS IS RADICALLY DIFFERENT FROM WHAT CAN AND WILL BE DONE.


    The reformist movements centred on the environment must be supported. They act as restraints upon the capitalist class in its naked drive for profit. They are broad fronts. However, activists should not see these movements as a "be all and end all". Marxist-Leninists waste their time in these organisations, unless they explain their limitations.

"I fell in love with a factory maid,
And if I could but her favours win,
I'd stand beside her and weave by steam.
How can you marry a factory maid,
When you could have girls fine and fair,
I don't care if she's a factory maid,
If I had her, we'd keep our shuttles in play.
Where are all the young girls gone?
They've gone to factory to weave by steam."
"Factory Maid;" English Traditional song, lamenting the passing of the artisan hand weaver.

    The song depicts the contempt of the artisans for the grimy future of the factory; while showing that it was inevitable. Omvedt like Shiva is no Marxist, she is another backward looking Utopian. She asserts that Marxist class analysis cannot explain the world. Her attack sounds only one note - the poverty and narrowness of Marxism. We synopsise her view from recent works.

    If Shiva is a reincarnated Gandhi, what of Omvedt? Perhaps she can be thought of as a modern Bukharin with a 'dewy view' of all things peasant, distrusting industrialisation.
    Omvedt attacks the "Third World Theorists" - Andre Gunder Frank, Harry Magdoff and Samir Amin; correctly she identifies them as departing from Marxism-Leninism. We cannot examine these writers further here. Omvedt ascribes to them a hidden motive:
    Omvedt now paints an "Old and New "Paradigm".
    The Old Paradigm means that:
    In contrast to this "out-moded" view, Omvedt's favoured New Paradigm notes that :
    In her New Paradigm, Omvedt identifies a strand of what she terms "neo-liberal economics"; though it is unclear what Omvedt thinks of the "neo-liberal" label:
    Omvedt generally promotes the Green movement. She is though, well aware that some positions within the Green movement are ill thought-out. Not wishing to appear naive, Omvedt steers a middle path. But in doing so, she accepts an ill-defined amalgam of both Green and pro-developers. She at least acknowledges "Green extremism" as "romantic":
    She ends with an alternative 'sustainable development'. This simply embraces the limited visions of modern day reformers of Capital. They are epitomised by such "enlightened ones", as the BRUNDTLAND COMMISSION of.. ..The UNITED NATIONS ! It is these august bodies that preach "SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT", of Omvedt's future:
     Above all Omvedt argues against a:
    Omvedt finds that Marxism is far too narrowly concerned with the proletariat. First she asserts the political and theoretical weakness of Marxism:
     It is difficult to tell whether Omvedt is anti- Marxism as opposed to being "anti­mechanical Marxism". But it rapidly becomes clearer that she believes Marxism itself is philosophically constrained - Marxism is simply not enough:
    Omvedt argues that Marxism is inadequate politically, and it cannot explain economic history. Why? Because Marxism ignores the economics of any "surplus value extraction" that transcend ownership rights; and it ignores the exploitation of nature:
    Omvedt explains that the first step in exploitation was to breach a subsistence economy; thereafter consumption relations became key to understanding exploitation; Marx had not understood that (apparently!):
    Because of their philosophical stance, Marxists incorrectly "foresaw" the "proletarianisation" of the peasantry, under Nehru's Government:
    Are these true deficiencies of Marxist analysis?

    If so, they are serious. These charges are examined below. To continue with Omvedt's assault. Her second spearhead arises from these theoretical faults- the historical results of these (apparent!) theoretical deficiencies. Omvedt enumerates battles that Marxism allegedly ignores:

    Marxists ignore these, Omvedt says, because "traditional Marxism" is un-interested in peasants except to extort revenue. Development even in the USSR entailed:
    Omvedt now asserts the identity of interest between the "Indian elite" and Bolsheviks in the development of India:
    This is a rather large set of "sins" for "guilty Marxists" to expiate. Some of these "sins" are a sleight of hand (Asserting "All Marxists said.."; "All Communists said and did.." etc). Some "sins" relate to Omvedt's poor history knowledge. (Did Omvedt learn history, only from Congress Bapus and bourgeois schools?) Some "sins" reflect Omvedt's misunderstanding or poor knowledge of some serious Marxist-Leninist theory.
    Students and activists in Indian history find the same!
    The first comment to ask is: "Who can have any confidence in the UN?" The UN is the Public Relations wing of the General Staff of the world's imperialist forces! Can that seriously be disproved? It is somewhat bewildering then, to see activists who model strategies for India, upon recommendations from Commissions of the United Nations ! It is naive in the extreme, to expect the UN to materially change the balance of forces between the colonial and semi-colonial world and the imperialist world.

    The second obvious point is that Omvedt ignores historical differences between various self-styled "Marxists" and "Communists". To a member of the United Nations, this may be a matter of supreme unimportance. But we object. It may be tedious to recount these differences but they are critical.

    The third initial point is that Omvedt is unaware of key historical facts. That is that revisionism, as a movement consciously disrupted the international communist workers and peasants movements; that the Communist International set out to exclude J.V.Stalin from leadership of the Comintern; and having done so it then destroyed the Workers and Peasants Parties of India. This is detailed in Alliance Issue 5 (See: ). Here we set out only enough details to rebut Omvedt's central point here:     that the "Communists" did not try to forge links with the peasantry.

    In general, Omvedt's history is shallow. We only touch on a few key issues, to expose how little thought she gives to history. She merely parrots history sold in the market place.
    Omvedt repeats bourgeois and revisionist histories, equating Stalin with the Comintern (ECCI). Alliance and the Communist League (UK) have shown this is untenable (See Alliance 5 ). In fact Stalin was removed from control of the ECCI in 1926-8, by hidden revisionists led by Otto Kussinin, who then destroyed the Workers and Peasants Parties (WPP). The WPP advocated by J.V.Stalin and M.N.Roy, proved very successful in mass mobilisations across India. The revisionist united front of the ECCI leadership and Communist Party Great Britain (CPGB), destroyed the WPP. Contrary to Omvedt's imaginative histories Stalin advocated that workers of the then embryonic CPI should unite with non-proletarians :
    Stalin only extended Lenin's line into the Workers and Peasants Party policy:
    But the Sixth Congress of the ECCI, became dominated by hidden revisionists after the defeat of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC). They disrupted the struggle by foisting an Ultra-Left line on the CPI. The Chinese worker and peasant massacres committed by the Kuomintang bourgoieie was the responsibility of the CPC. The CPC repeatedly rejected Stalin and M.N.Roy's advice : to escalate the class struggle, and not to kow-tow to the bourgeois nationalists. However, the ECCI used the Chinese debacle as a pretext to remove Stalin. The 6th ECCI Congress now adopted an anti-WPP line. The first Workers and Peasants Party had been formed in Bengal on 1st November 1925. WPP formed in other parts of India as well. The WPP's aimed to achieve complete independence by widening the anti-imperialist struggle. (See Bairathi S: "Communism and Nationalism in India." Delhi, 1987. p. 95-96).

    M.N.Roy and Stalin, had long advocated massive wide non Communsit broad mass Worker and Peasant parties (WPP). Roy, promoted joint activity with progressive elements. Therefore, British imperialism repeatedly tried to rupture Roy's ties with militant elements. The WPP led major struggles. During 1927-8, a great strike wave began, ignited by the Simon Commission. The WPP called the Indian National Congress (INC) to boycott the Simon Commission, and to mobilise for full independence. The revisionist Communist Party Of India (CPI), is also un­interested in revealing revisionism. Even the CPI concedes the success of WPP pressure. ("Guidelines History of CPI", p.19).

    In April 1928 a six month long strike in Bombay led by Communist WPP leaders (Bombay) led to formation of the Girni Kamgar (Mill Workers) Union (GKU); in Calcutta large strikes of jute and railway workers were led by the WPP (Bengal):

    British Intelligence reports confirmed this picture:
    These broad, legal mass workers and peasants parties (WPP) under Communist leadership, advocated by Stalin, were clearly successful; enabling Communists to lead masses of workers and peasants in militant struggle.


    At this 10th Plenum of the ECCI, held in Moscow from July 3rd to 19th 1929, Roy was formally expelled from the CI. Otto Kuusinen cited amongst other matters, Roy's objection to the ECCI line against the formation of an alliance within the INC between the CPI and the Independence League; and against the WPP.


    Having gainged control of the ECCI, revisionism needed to stamp its mark at a more local level. "Independetly minded" Communists like Roy were leading the CPI correctly. This was inconvenient for the ECCI. The CPI was therefore "minded" by "Reliable Foreign Big Brothers". The First Big Brother was the revisionist Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB).
    Folowing the previous incorrect Ultra-left turn, the CPGB now inflicted an ultra-right turn. This came to a head during the final thores of the Second World War, and the liberation struggle in India. Nehru negotiated with British imperialism for the notorious partition of the Indian sub-continent. This perpetuated the divide and rule policy of Britain, and allowed the British imperialists, to seemingly withdraw, in a situation where they could continue to exercise their dominance on two weakened and warring states. The classic neo-colonial strategy had perpetuated the divide and rule policy of Britain. The CPGB under R.P.Dutt forced a right revisionist line, and forced the CPI to swallow these manoeuvres.

    In the face of opportunist right revisionism, a left wing reaction broke out. With no Marxist-Leninist leadership however, it was prone to the Left wing adventurism of the RANADIVE FACTION. This was ill-judged given the lack of preparation of the CPI after years of right stultification. Even more complicatedly, the Telangana branch of the Party came under the control of the revisionist Communist Party of China (CPC).
    Admittedly all this is complex. No one said that serious history is easy, but you may ignore history only at your peril. Omvedt's serious errors, stem from a superficial "rose-coloured" view of "any" peasant struggle. In this laudable aim, she overlooks certain inconveniences.
    For example, the Telangagna revolt of 1946-50 did establish "GRAM RAJ", or SOVIET POWER in nearly 4,000 villages. But she implies that Hyderabad should have been led to secession by the CPI. But the army of the central Indian state could not be resisted then. But there was no overall climate for revolution, far from it. The brilliant Soviet observer, DYAKOV, wrote "That the situation was far from being revolutionary." (Overstreet & Windmiller, Ibid, p.281).

    Illustrating her willingness to accept anything labelled "peasant" as good, she even ignores the class facts of the Telangana Revolt itself. Omvedt slights "left scholars", who criticise the revolt as "rich peasant" dominated (See Omvedt 3, p.23-24). BUT Telangana specifically exempted the rich peasantry from any local CPI attack. This rightist class collaboration, by the local ANDHRA FACTION OF THE CPI, was in fact, inconsistent with the then Ultra-Left CPI! It was a line that came from the Mao led revisionist Communist Party of China:

    Let us dispose of a further charge - that the "Marxist left" ignored in India the emergence and development of struggles such as the Jharkhanad, the adivasas, the dalits etc.
    Who does she here label as the "Marxists"?
    Why, no other than the revisionist CPI and the CPM.
    These parties are part of the state power apparatus, being in Governments and heading some State Governments. How can they possibly wish to disrupt that state power? The CPM and its West Bengal leader Jyoti Basu, is hailed by the Financial Times (UK) as a great place to invest and a stable society! What can one hope for from a party with Jyoti Basu as a prominent leader? Only opportunists do not unhesitatingly call these parties revisionist. Omvedt's charge here is toothless. Even worse actually.
    In passing we note that she is much more "gentle" in reproaches against the CPI(ML)). Doubtless this is as the CPI(ML), of pro-Maoist stripe has been heavily involved in the countryside. The nature of their involvement in the countryside (Left adventurism, individual assassination, under-estimation of the role of the proletariat etc) was however anti-Marxist Leninist. Historically it led to a physical decimation of the best of a generation of activists. We cannot dwell on this history here.
    Marxist-Leninists know there is a basic difference between two types of industry. The split is between Heavy (Marx's Department A) and Light (Marx's Department B). This, split, is an important consideration for the development of a country's industrial and economic independence.
Most authors follow Marx in recongising that development requires the necessary underpinnings of Heavy Industry.
    According to Omvedt, this is not so. But how exactly does Omvedt imagine that "New Paradigm" computer chips are made? Perhaps no heavy industry has been involved in the making of chips? Are they made in someone's back yard smelter perhaps? Besides what exactly are chips made for? Are computer chips, we wonder, purely to help when making hotel reservations, or to book theatre tickets?
    Of course not. They have further extended and revolutionised the role of heavy industry. Their advent actually makes the control of heavy industry even more - not less -critical in development. Omvedt's argument is not a new one. It is dressed up in the modern garb of electronics.
    Bukharin argued that the economic measures of J.V.Stalin were:
    Lenin's policy was to support the alliance of the proletariat, with the peasantry [in especial the poor section], which took the name the SMYTCHKA. As Stalin points out this confronted the most serious problem for the proletariat :
    Lenin proposed that this "important question" would be solved by a special form of alliance:
    This meant identifying  strata of peasantry. The Bolsheviks then allied with the most revolutionary sections. Actually, the Bolsheviks pursued a policy towards the peasants that empowered peasant desires. For instance, in the debates on the NATIONALISATION OF LAND, Lenin showed how well he had understood the peasant needs. The Bolsheviks pushed for the nationalisation of all state land, yet the Mensheviks tried to obstruct this, arguing that the:
    This is nothing more than what Marx and Engels had advocated:
    It is true that Marxists think that land holding introduces a different mentality. Marx considered that land ownership did indeed was part of a "reactionary" mentality; one that tried to obstruct moving forward to the new world. If that new world is based on a socialist view, land nationalisation is a prerequisite. What is controversial about that? Now there is no socialist country in the world. There is also now, no country where land nationalisation exists! Did Marx think that private property in land prevented a social awareness? Certainly so - Marx viewed France as a country where land nationalisation was unlikely, because of the small scale abundance of peasant holdings:
    In "Resolution on the Land Questions", Lenin showed in what way Land Reforms could work. This should tell Omvedt why the pusillanimous so-called "Land Reforms" of the bourgeois governments following Nehru have not produced a state of harmony in the Indian countryside.
    Clearly these requirements were not present in India. The so called "Land Reforms" of Nehru were bound to be mere words. Later, Lenin again showed how carefully he had understood the land hunger of the Small peasant, when the Decree on Land exempted the small peasantry, but not the large and middle landowners, from expropriation:
    To be clear: not every peasant is like any other "peasant". Lenin's attitude was to distinguish the peasants into groups, whether in the stages of seizing stae pwoer, or of consolidating state power. The tactics were:
    Lenin's attitude to the middle peasant was a very realistic one. Yet Omvedt cannot abide the thought of distinguishing between layers of peasantry. She is worried that 'Marxists' in state power would inevitably crush the peaasant. But who advocated this? And who resisted this?
    Trotsky had long been contemptuous of the peasantry. Indeed this was a key component of his book "Permanent Revolution".  After the death of Lenin in 1923, and during the last years of the New Economic Policy (NEP) the future path of Soviet Russia was under debate. After the temporary retreat of the New Economic Policy, an intense struggle ensued over whether, when and how to embark upon industrialisation. The TROTSKYITES, became allied with Preobrazhensky. He advocated "pumping the peasantry". In fact at the Communist Academy, which took up several pseudo-Left positions (see Alliance 7) Preobrazhensky put it very bluntly :
    Here then, is Omvedt's "Marxist" who sees the peasantry as a tool to be extorted ! But then as we said above there are Marxists, and then there are Marxists! This was not the line of Marxist-Leninists like Stalin. This line was soundly rejected by the 13 th Party Conference and subsequently too. Allied to Preobrazhensky was Trotsky, Ossinsky, Radek and Zinoviev and Kamenev.
    In contrast to Trotsky, Bukharin went the other way! One could say that he did an Omvedt turn! He wished to aid the peasantry to retreat into a capitalist mode of existence. In effect he aided the richer sections of the peasantry. Bukharin argued that the USSR could develop its ability to fulfil the needs of the population, through consumer products. Already in 1925 Stalin had asserted the principle of industrialisation to be critical. But even more so, Stalin emphasised heavy industry:
    At the same time, there was debate on whether to stimulate the peasantry and agriculture by means of:
    At this time Bukharin issued the call to the kulak to "Enrich Yourself". Dobb, Ibid, p.202.

    Under the pressure of a general Bolshevik outrage, Bukharin retracted. But he continued to advocate "proceeding at a slowly"; or:

    By 1928 - Bukharin and Shanin representing the Right tendency became more open in their opposition, as the pace of industrialisation was increasing; and now pressure on the kulak increased. Shanin charged that industrialisation was taking place on the basis of "inflationary financing". Bukharin in "Observations of an Economist ", written in 1928 attacked the increased tempo under a cover:
    In talking of a crisis Bukharin alleged that:
    This was a direct attack on the 15 th Congress Resolution which had said there were two problems that needed to be circumvented:
    In opposition to Bukharin, Stalin pointed out the essential need to develop heavy industry. Only this would increase the overall capacity of the USSR productive base in order to be able to meet the ends of the population. Stalin argued that:
    As opposed to Omvedt's allegations, parroted from the bourgeoisie, collectivisation was not a vicious attack on the peasantry. Here Omvedt agrees with Nikita Khrushchev, a braggart who destroyed the socialist state of the USSR. Khrushchev alleged that Stalin destroyed the peasantry and the peasant led a miserable life under Stalin. As to Collectivisation, Alliance has dealt with allegations of forcible collectivisation etc; in Alliance 10; (See article by JP). In this essay we concentrate on later data concerning peasant life under Stalin.

    Khrushchev alleged that Stalin placed the peasant and agriculture in backward conditions. This allegation could not be more misplaced. Stalin himself attacked backwardness in agriculture saying:

    Stalin's attitude to heavy industry at an earlier epoch in Soviet USSR is discussed above. Similar considerations applied following the Second World War. Stalin's resisted further expenditure on light industry, because of the needs of heavy industry; precisely in order to improve the well being of the people. Stalin makes this clear in his last work, written to rebut Khrushchev's revisionist friend Voznosensksy:
    As Durgin states in 1984:
    Durgin also points out the FALL IN LIVING STANDARDS THAT TOOK PLACE AFTER Stalin's death. This can be seen from the share of Gross National Product going to consumption:
    Durgin concludes:
    Not only Marxist-Leninists believe in the primacy of heavy industry. Many non-Marxist economists agree that an accent on heavy industry is even more critical nowadays, to ensure some independence for the smaller and colonial type countries. Thus the economic and technological historian Nathan Rosenberg writes:
    In fact there has been a steady trend to the increasing predominance of heavy industry, world wide:
    Chudnovsky points out, that over the post-Second World War years, those who propounded an accent on heavy industry were "castigated" -  as "socialist"; whilst those that favoured light industry were labelled as "consumerist- OR-being for the people". These labels are shibboliths, in being put into this false opposition:
    From here, Chudnovsky et al, enumerate four common sense causes, that, favour the historical trend of increasing weight of heavy industry. The First is :
    Thirdly and more fundamentally:
    How Omvedt can argue against this? She does not try. She first asserts and then shifts ground. The assertion is that industrialisation is passe. Then she shifts ground to say that in any case it is "information technology" that is now key. No economic data anywhere can support this assertion. To the contrary. As far as the electronic industry, this only accentuates the importance of heavy industry. This can be seen in the rapidity with which it has taken over in the Western imperialist countries:
    The growth of the micro-electronic industry has led to an increasing dominance of multi­national corporations based in the capitals goods industries (Department I) imperialist countries:
    The stranglehold of imperialism be broken. This can only be done with national liberation struggles, that pass immediately onto socialist revolutions. All this entails a definite utilisation of heavy industry to attain porductive capacity. Omvedt will not and cannot accept this.
Omvedt laid a number of charges against the Dead White Male who wrote "Capital". Well no one is perfect. But, Omvedt finds several imperfections. Lest we forget her theoretical threads we briefly recap her assertions (See p.46-50 for quotes):
    This alleges that Marx and Engels, explained everything by the a mould of Base economy; and that "Class is ALL". Almost anything inexplicable was explained by a secondary and hermetically sealed "superstructure". Omvedt feels that Marxists have not adequately explained the caste system in India, and this reflects the tendency to say all comes from an economic base.
    But nothing could be farther from the truth. It is certainly true that others may apply such a pre-ordained moulding. But it was Marx we believe who said somewhere, "Save me from Marxists"; and Engels points out:
    Omvedt excuses the leader of the Untouchables, Ambedkar, his support for British imperialism for a period; arguing that he and the Dalits had "too many enemies to fight"! Doubtless she might then find the charity to excuse Marx and Engels in laying emphasis on the main determinant, whilst they established a new science of society.

    How did Engels himself, see interaction of superstructure and base?

    Engels gives an example how a mechanical insistence upon economic determinacy will lead to obvious "ridicule":
    Moreover, there are a myriad of factors that individualise final results, as opposed to classes alone. Each individual then plays a role in the "parallelogram of forces", that ends up in any result:
    In another letter, to W.Borgius Engels explains:
    None of this of course takes away from the MAIN THING- that is undoubtedly class and economics.
    That is of discomfort to Omvedt? So be it.
    It appears that Marx needed lessons on commodity production. We argued against Shiva's mythical bucolic past. But to be sure, a radically different world for peasants did exist, with a common ownership. This past was based on a harsh struggle against Nature, contrary to the dreams of Omvedt and Shiva. But it existed - as a primitive form of communism:
    How did Marx and Engels see the fall of humanity from the grace of a primitive communism? Undoubtedly, by the erosion of the former nexus of human relations by commodity exchange:
    In fact Money itself only emerged, after the perceived need for exchange appeared. In other words, the need was felt, for an equivalence marker between different commodities. actually, the money economy already arrived long before capitalism. This money economy, even under pre-capitalist society began to erode the well being of the peasantry:
    Marx recognised that the tempo of changes in commodity production differed in different social formations, but wherever it took place, it was corrosive:
    In many places Marx describes the enormous transforming properties of money in relation to commodity relations. He quotes the blistering words of Shakespeare's King Timon, to illustrate how money changes the world:
    The corrosive properties of commodity production and money were obviously appreciated by Marx, who highlighted the views of prior bourgeois economy. 
    What is now left of Omvedt's portentous charge that:
    Obviously precious little!
    We have established that Marx and Engels fully understood the erosive properties of commodity and money circulation. What of this "passive" view of Marx on the relation of commodity/consumption to production? Well again Omvedt should give a reference. All we find speaks to a much different, and dialectical view:
    For Omvedt, Marx "apparently" did not understand primitive accumulation. Apparently the world had to wait Maria Mies' "discovery" of the "violence underlying accumulation.
    Any cursory flip through Marx will reveal that this is simply absurd. Marx unleashes invective against the forcible impoverishment of the peasantry:
    Has Omvedt not read Marx's praise of Thomas More's (16th Century) "sheep" eating passages? These describe how the Enclosures took over peasant property to make room for the new wool industry. Or his fulminations against the Duchess of Sutherland who in the 19th Cnetury drove herHighlanddcottagerss out for her sheep ? But by now, we should not be surprised if Omvedt has not read these. Let her pass the following snippets to her grapevine:
    The rapid and vicious industrialisation that formed the Industrial Revolution in the colonised world now, is a process mirrored now in the "First World". Just as in the earlier industrialisation in the West, technology is the driving force. Technological developments made possible the wool trade and the explosion in the profitability of the business of keeping sheep. So too did technological improvements make possible the growth of the proletariat that worked in a factory.
    In both Shiva and Omvedt, this might lie in empowering the peasantry to allow them to stay as a peasantry. But can the peasantry decide their future so easily, by a "free" choice? Shiva offers a sterile up dated Gandhism. Omvedt, instead serves the tender mercies of the Brundlandt Commission. Meanwhile the reality is the unstoppable pauperisation -about which we protest. But Engels points out, it leads to the social revolution:
    Gail Omvedt denies that this process is occurring to the population of India. She wishes to deny Marxist theory on empirical grounds. If she is right then Lenin's statement below would not apply in India:
    As stated above, Lenin saw the "peasantry" as composed of several parts, an exploited part and a small exploiters part:
    The Government of India itself gives corroborating figures.

    Firstly land concentration is occurring. According to official figures the class of landlords and rich peasants holding 15 acres or more of land; holds more than 50% of the total land, although consisting only 7% of the rural population.(P.S.Appu: Ceilings on Agricultural; Holdings', Government of India; 1971;p.38.)
     Secondly, the bourgeoisie are assisting this trend. The concentration of landholding has increased since the 'so-called Independence':

    Thirdly, the state has directed its' policies, to a considerable extent to the benefit of the rich peasantry:
    Fourthly, the domination of the state by landowners particularly large landowners is admitted by Indian government reports and other studies:
    Moreover OMVEDT HERSELF gives data that there is indeed a pauperisation of the Indian peoples:
    Omvedt takes refuge in the fact that:
    This menas absolute landlessness here. It is as if a tiny square of non-productive land somehow transforms the peasant into a qualitatively different class. Omvedt even points out that differentiation between industry and agriculture is growing. There is a drift into the mills:
    Well Omvedt again gives us facts. And who argues with facts?

     Marginal (0-1 hect)                   50.6             56.4         58.1
    Small (1-2 hect)                         19.1             18.1         18.3
    Semi-medium (2-4 hect)             15.2             14.0         13.5
    Medium (4-10 Hect)                   11.2             9.1             8.1
    Large (over 10 Hect)                     3.9            2.4             2.0

 (From Omvedt 3; Ibid; Table 2.1; p.35).
    This is completely true. Even more would this come out if the figures were to be expressed per capita (ie per head). But Omvedt misses the fact that even the middle peasantry is declining also. If figures for semi-medium and medium are combined, this comes out to be 26.4%; to 23.1%; to 21.6%.
    So there is a general impoverishment, or drift to the proletariat; or is this incorrect?

    Omvedt shows in anohter table, (Table 2.4 a Omvedt 3; Ibid; p.38) that this interpretation is correct. So, by "Sector of industrial origin:" national income derived from "agriculture and allied activities" fell from 54% in 1950-51 to 37.9% in 1984-85. In the same period, income from "manufacturing, construction and mining" rose from 17.14% to 22.17%; whilst in "tertiary defense and public administration" it rose from 24.81% to 39.91%.

    Where does Marx say that the peasant absolutely has to not have nary a single possession, nor a tiny bit of land? We are sure that Omvedt is thinking of a reference. But unfortunately, as she does not offer it we cannot find it ourselves! But Marx does indeed say this:
    And that is exactly what Omvedt's statistics say. There may be a tiny piece of land, but it is not adequate as a "productive means" to keep the peasant from becoming a "destitute wage labourer if not a true proletariat". What academic "distinctions" like these can disguise!
    This mechanical and naive world view cannot help anyone. Only the shackling of Indian industry by foreign imperialism, resists the faster pace of this process of pauperisation and driving into the factories. The main thrust of changes in the Indian countryside cannot be explained by Omvedt. But in any case, can Omvedt offer a different path from socialist revolution?
    We have already argued to Shiva, that Marx well understood that humans exploit nature. To pretend otherwise is a fantasy. We have already shown that Engels cogently explains the history of the desertification of the Middle East. But this is all part of the human's urge to eat, to reproduce themselves, to rise above the elements of the world around. Marx expresses it well in the following passage:
    We have already given part of this following quote to Shiva. But we must complete it, because the difference between OTHER Nature; and OUR Nature is put very graphically here. Who has not marvelled at Nature's constructions? But are they of the same ilk as the Pyramids, the Taj Mahal or the Moscow Subway completed under Kaganovich's direction?

We described above the passage from primitive communism to a more modern, albeit, harsher world. But, in some parts of the world, there were remnants of this earlier form of society, until very late. One such place was Russia.

    In these societies it was once possible to "bypass" the passage through the hell of capitalism:
    But only one way could have bypassed this hell of capitalism, via the creation of socialism. In present day India this "short cut" is no longer possible. Because capitalism has already been well and truly established in both town and countryside; BUT co-existing with a vicious feudal type oppression of the peasantry; AND the whole under the thumb of foreign imperialism. This mandates the completion of the stalled bourgeois democratic revolution. In India a ruthless land accumulation has gone on apace. This land accumulation accrued to the benefit of rich landlord farmers who buy tractors. Omvedt glissades past all this, preferring to lump all peasants into the "Farmers" movement.

    There is only one way that peasant liberation can be achieved. This is to create conditions for the socialist revolution. Omvedt does not suggest how this is to be done. Is the Marxist-Leninist party redundant? How does the peasant link with the workers? Are the interests of countryside and town reconcilable and if so how? These are the questions that the Marxist-Leninist party must grapple with. Omvedt does not wish to try to even create a Marxist-Leninist party.
    Whilst struggling against the proletarianisation of India's masses, Omvedt does not even have the insight of the British Famine Commissioners of 1880:
    Moreover the continuing proletarianisation and dispossession of the peasantry remains a mystery to her. For an unstoppable process, all she offers is to try even harder to turn history back. She has turned her back on the only path that effectively can face the pauperisation of the peasants:
    Here, the leaders of the world proletariate saw the future. It is this same development that Omvedt fights.
    Traditional histories state that Stalin destroyed agriculture and biological science by supporting Trofim Desnisovich Lyensko Elsewhere we document that Lysenkoism evolved a reductionist biology as a part of a revisionist led attack on the principles of science. This was obstructed by Stalin (A full analysis of Lysenko is available from Alliance). 
    Nonetheless, cautions against the monoculture of maize - as was advocated by Khrushchev for the Soviet Union - were however justifiable.


Maize hybrid monoculture for the USSR was first sponsored by Nikolai Vavilov. In the USA this had increased yields by 20-30% on:

    Lysenko resisted corn monoculture. However Stalin, by 1952 signalled that "seigniorial attitudes in science" were intolerable (See Alliance #7; - Stalin on linguistics) and Lysenko came under scrutiny. After Stalin's death, Lysenko changed his views by 180 degrees, and joined Khrushchev's campaign to promote maize monoculture. The second "maize" sponsor then, was Khrushchev.


The first was the geography of the USSR (See map below). Levins and Lewontin point out :

Only in hard copy
From Knystautas, Algridas "Natural History of the USSR";London, 1987.p.32. Shows the vast range of climate zones from polar zone; tundra; desert, to mountain.

    These authors appropriately conclude that:
    There were other biological reasons, to oppose monoculture. Darwin showed that inbreeding of plants led to weakness; but "hybrid vigour" developed with "out-breeding". Lysenko adopted this principle, calling it "heterosis". But this was also recognised in the West. Biologists now interpret hybrid vigour as follows:
    Actually the hybrid corn that so impressed Khrushchev on his USA visits was first developed in recognition of Darwin's proof of "hybrid vigour". Edward Murray East and George Harrison Schull established special hybrids of corn by outbreeding selected corn, because:
    East and Schull used "controlled fertilisation"; (detasseling of corn) to prevent un-wanted pollination. This was similar to Lysenko's practices. USA corn yields rose. But the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) used hybrid corns exclusively for "monoculture". They now ignored the background theory, allowing the "hybrid vigour" to decline. This led to widespread chaos; and the corn futures market was in shock, with the Corn Leaf Blight of the 1970's:
    The rapid spread of the Blight was due to a cytoplasmic gene. This is another irony; as cytoplasmic genes were supposedly "impossible" - according to classical genetic theory. The US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) studied this and in 1976 reported:
    In conclusion, corn monoculture in Khruschevite Russia was a mistaken policy. Special hybrid corns were not adequate to boost production. The opposition to maize monoculture under Stalin was well grounded. When Khrushchev later initiated monoculture, maize production was poor. In arguing against monoculture as a danger, Vandana Shiva is undoubtedly correct.
    By 1929 the USSR population was 12% more than in 1917; and the area of grain production only 90 % of the pre-war figure. There was also a continued land parcellation (24.5 million households in 1928). To overcome these problems, a higher technical use of the land was needed. Even before the Second World War, expansion of the arable land had been needed. Stalin pointed out in 1929:
    Collectivisation resulted in an immediate increase in the Sown Area seen in the Table below:


 North & Central         4,518             21.1                                         1,140
Southern                     11,516           54.3                                          6,801
Eastern                         3,477             16.2                                         3,290
Central Asia &
Transcaucasia                 1,796             8.4                                             482
    TOTAL                     21,442         100.0                                             11,713

Source : Summary of Fulfilment of the First 5 Year Plan for the Development of the National Economy of the USSR (Moscow 1933). Cited from McCauley p.25).

    Even hostile forces to Stalin acknowledge the measures were successful:
    The Machine and Tractor Stations (MTS) overcame the lack of suitable machinery. But still, famine in the Ukraine occurred with crop failures. In the winter of 1927-28 5 million hectares of winter wheat perished, and after the severe winter of 1928-9, about 7 million hectares of winter wheat perished. With this background, let us examine the Plan to Transform Nature.
    V.R.Williams is largely forgotten by modern scientists, remembered only by political theorists who ridicule him. Yet his concepts strike a modern Green note. He had been a soil scientist and Rector of the former Petrovskaia Agricultural Academy. He kept the post when it became the Moscow Agricultural Institute under the Bolsheviks. Williams was a member of the Agricultural Committee. He believed that grasses counter-acted desiccation:
     This led him to a system he called Travople (a form of crop rotation), which he advocated for widespread use. This was opposed by other scientists, primarily Tulaikov and Prishianokov. They insisted upon chemical fertilizers, instead of Travople; despite the expense of chemical fertilizers. They won the debate initially. Tulaikov was sent by the Party to the USA to examine the USA dept Agriculture's farms. In 1928 Tulaikov proposed a Soviet version of the giant grain farms in the semi-arid plains of North America, following the USA model:
    But a reappraisal occurred with declining land productivity. Williams' remarks on "the land being too dry anyway " now were heard. At the Conference on Drought Control in October 1931.. travopol'e was accepted for 20 state farms and 20 Machine and Tractor Stations (MTS):
    Current Western texts on soil management cite practices quite similar to Williams. Thus J.H.Stallins when discussing soil conservation in areas of wind erosion says:
    Western authorities suggest that since Khrushchev abandoned Williams' travopol'e, major deficits began:
    McCauley compares Saskatchewan Canada to Kazahkstan USSR, finding similar weather and land problems. But the anti- Travopol'e bias of Khrushchev is not a Canadian practice:
    Much scorn is heaped on the proposals after the Second World War, to transform the Steppes of Russia from a hostile wind swept area to arable farming land. This was termed the "STALIN PLAN TO TRANSFORM NATURE":
    But in fact other Western sources value wind breaks:
    Following the Second World War devastation, it was needed to extend agriculture into the Steppe Virgin Lands:
    But the land problems of drought had to be tackled: 
    The Plan called for the Travopole system to be applied. The Soviet Degree was later rescinded by Khrushchev, who ignored ecological reality. It had:
    In addition under Stalin, there were irrigation plans that:
    Not all the wind breaks survived; planted as they were in accord with Lysenko's "cluster" theory. Lysenko argued that the saplings themselves would allow the best to survive. This was a mistaken theory, akin to Peter Kropotkin's view of "Mutual Aid". However some 5.7 million hectares of protective trees were planted; and, witnesses, testify that contrary to Western assertion, not all the belts died. Durgin, himself a Western academic claims that the belts survived:
    Overall the Stalin Plan on Nature made sense and contributed to relief of the agricultural crisis. By 1953:
    Khrushchev claimed that Stalin destroyed Soviet agriculture, promoting Lysenkoism. The figures do not support this contention. Table Two below shows the yields of wheat relative to the base years 1926-1928, for the USA and the USSR, using data from the USA Bureau of the Census, 1975.

    The figures for the war years show the expected devastation in the Soviet Union. In the following years potentially attributable to Stalin's "terrible influence"; the figures do not corroborate Khrushchev. Even immediately after Stalin's death, farm yields were not a problem. Indeed later on, the resurrection of private property did make an enormous impact upon the distribution of the available supply. 

  TABLE TWO : WHEAT YIELDS USA AND THE USSR. (base years 1926-1928)

Lewins and Lewontin conclude:

    Khrushchev also charged in his "secret speech" that Stalin neglected updating agriculture, and did not spend adequate resources upon it. Khrushchev meant Stalin had not introduced maize monoculture with a large chemical fertiliser industry. As seen above, Williams was given support for a primary reliance upon travopol'e; certainly a more "green" and natural approach than chemical fertilisers. But Khrushchev campaigned heavily against Travopole and for expansion o of light industry with a fertiliser component. When he came to power later, unhappy consequences flowed from Khrushchev's bias against Travopole and irrigation:
    As McCauley says:
    Following the Second world war, the pressure on agriculture was met. Contrary to revisionist and bourgeois charges, Stalin's agricultural policy was sound. There were appropriate measures for control of drought and wind erosion in the Virgin lands program. Despite the Lysenkoist cluster planting, the Stalin Plan was appropriate. The Stalin Plan rested on ecological principles that subsequently have become commonplace and accepted.

    Consistent with Khrushchev's plan to disrupt socialist practices in the countryside, Khrushchev opposed these plans. Khrushchev went on to dismantle the Machine and Tractor Stations. The former Soviet Union is now in a state of severe starvation and ecological disaster.

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