Issue NUMBER 5. OCTOBER,
THE ROLE OF THE BOURGEOISIE
IN COLONIAL TYPE COUNTRIES:WHAT IS THE CLASS CHARACTER OF THE INDIAN STATE
CHANGING LINE, REVISIONISTS
DISTORT LENIN AND STALIN
TABLE OF CONTENTS OF THIS
-ATTITUDES OF THE COMMUNIST MOVEMENT TO THE INDIAN
-MABENDRA NATH ROY (M.N.ROY) AND LENIN 65-76
-FORMATION OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA 76-77
-ROY IN PRACTICAL WORK 78-86
-THE ATTITUDE OF J.V. STALIN TO THE INDIAN REVOLUTION
-REVISIONISTS TURN ULTRA-LEFT: OTTO KUUSINEN, AND
WANG MING. 89-98
-TWO FLANK ATTACK ON CPI: RIGHT BRITAIN, LEFT COMINTERN
-REVISIONISM TURNS RIGHT. DUTT FOLLOWS. 112-122
-SOVIET VIEWS ON INDIA - DYAKOV 128-132
-YUGOSLAV REVISIONISM ENTERS DEBATE 133-134
-YUGOSLAVS TAKE CONTROL OF CPI-ADVENTURIST TURN 134-137
-CONCLUSIONS PERIOD UP TO 1948. 138
ATTITUDES OF THE COMMUNIST MOVEMENT TO THE INDIAN
Up to the Second World War, there was a continuing struggle
between the two wings (comprador and national) of the capitalist class
in India. The differences within the industrialist camp became manifested
in a variety of ways, including how to react to the increasingly powerful
workers movement. Tata for instance (who received a Knighthood from the
British Crown for his services) suggested a United Front of capital against
trade unionists that would include British firms. However, some refused,
most especially, Birla refused:
"In 1929, the Tatas had floated the idea of a joint capitalist
organisation with European firms as a safeguard against trade union activities,
but G.D. and other Marwari businessmen declined to back it.
HOW WERE THESE DIFFERENCES TREATED BY THE LEADERS OF THE
COMMUNIST MOVEMENT ?
'I have not the last doubt in my mind,' GD.
wrote,'that a purely capitalist organisation is the last body to put up
an effective fight against Communism. What we capitalists can do is to
cooperate with those who though constitutional means want to change the
Government for a national one.'..
'It needed to be clear', Purshottamdas Thakurdas Birla
wrote to N.N.Majumdar of Tatas 'That they were Indians first and merchants
Cited from letters by : A.Ross. "The Emissary" Ibid.
Previous analysis details the attitudes of the Comintern,
Stalin and M.N.Roy up to the 1930's (See M.N.Roy and the Colonial Question,
parts 1 and 3, London, 1977). Here we briefly revise those conclusions;
in order to extend our analysis to 1947.
WE WILL THEREFORE POSTPONE THE FURTHER EXAMINATION
OF THE ECONOMIC EVENTS OF POST INDEPENDENT INDIA IN DETAIL, UNTIL WE HAVE
DEALT WITH THE POLITICAL STRUGGLES BETWEEN THE CLASSES OF INDIA.
MABENDRA NATH ROY (M.N.ROY) AND LENIN.
It is well known that Mabendra Nath Roy - M.N.Roy - had
major clashes with the ECCI (Executive Committee of the Communist International)
over the general line of the ECCI on the question of colonial states, as
well as many other questions. Roy had first come to general attention when
Lenin had modified his "Theses on Revolution in Semi-Colonial Countries",
to take some account of Roy's view. Roy had stressed the relatively vacillating
role of the national bourgeoisie, and Lenin accepted some of this. But
Roy would later overemphasise the degree to which Lenin had taken on Roy's
Though these differences between Lenin and Roy were expressed
in terms of how much weight to place upon the national bourgeoisie, underlying
it was a very different assessment of the strength of the workers movements
in the colonial countries:
"According to Alfred Rosmer who attended the Second
Congress : 'Patiently Lenin replied to him (Roy) explaining that for a
longer or shorter period the Indian Communist Party would be a small party
with but few members, having only weak resources, incapable of reaching
on the basis of its program and by means of its own activity, a substantial
number of peasants and workers. On the other hand on the basis of demands
for national independence it would become possible to mobilize large masses
- experience had already demonstrated that amply - and it was only in the
course of this struggle that the Indian Communist Party would forge and
develop its organisation to the point where it would be in a position to,
once the national demands were satisfied to attack the Indian bourgeoisie."
The Theses on the National and Colonial Question were
adopted at the 2nd Congress of the Communist International
(CI), which was in Petrograd and Moscow from July 19th to August
7th, 1920. M.N.Roy and Evelyn Roy were the delegates from the Communist
Party of Mexico. M.N.Roy was elected to the National and Colonial Commission
of the Congress. Lenin submitted his "Theses on the National and Colonial
Questions" to the congress and Roy submitted "Supplementary Theses"
on the same subject.
Cited, Overstreet and Windmiller. Ibid. p. 32
Roy's semi-Trotskyite conception of the revolutionary
process in colonial type countries was based on an exaggerated picture
of the industrial development of India. As he expressed it in his report:
"During the war and immediately after it, great changes
have taken place in India. While formerly English capitalism had always
hindered the development of Indian industry, of late it has changed that
policy. The growth of industry in British India has gone at such a pace
as can hardly be imagined. "
In his original draft Supplementary Theses on the National
and Colonial Question presented at the 2nd Congress, Roy expressed
firmly the conclusion that the interests of the working class of colonial
type countries are fundamentally in conflict with those of the entire bourgeoisie,
so that support for a "national liberation movement" in which any section
of the native bourgeoisie participated must be rejected on principle:
M.N.Roy: Report on Supplementary theses on the national
and Colonial Question, 2nd Congress CI, cited in G.Adhikari(Ed); "Documents
of the History of the Communist Party of India", Volume 1; New
Delhi; 1971 p.191.
"It would be a mistake to assume that the bourgeois nationalists
movement expressed the sentiment stand aspirations of the general population..
The CI must not find in them (ie the bourgeois nationalists elements -Ed)
the media through which the revolutionary movements in the colonies should
be helped... The bourgeois national democrats in the colonies strive for
the establishment of a free national state, whereas the masses of workers
and peasants are revolting, even though in many cases unconsciously against
the system which permits such brutal exploitation. Consequently in the
colonies we have two contradictory forces they cannot develop together.
To support the colonial bourgeois movements would amount to helping the
growth of the national spirit which will surely obstruct the awakening
of the class consciousness in the masses."
These formulations were in clear contradiction to those of
M.N.Roy: Draft Supplementary Theses On the National and
Colonial Question, 2nd Congress CI, Cited in G.Adhikari, (Ed) Ibid, p.
"All the Communist parties must assist the bourgeois
democratic liberation movement in these (ie colonial type countries-ed)..
The CI must enter into a temporary alliance with bourgeois democracy in
colonial and backward countries."
It was for that reason that Lenin deleted all the above
passages from Roy's Supplementary Theses before they were put to the Congress.
Roy on the other hand, fought unsuccessfully for the deletion of the passages
cited above from Lenin's Draft Theses:
V.I.Lenin : Preliminary Draft of Theses on the National
and Colonial Questions, 2nd Congress CI in "Selected Works", Volume 10,
London, 1946; p. 236-7.
"Comrade Roy arrived at the conclusion that it was necessary
to delete from the 11th Thesis (of Lenin's drat-Ed) on the national question
the paragraph about the need for all the communist parties to help the
bourgeois democratic liberation movements in Eastern countries."
In his autobiography, Roy clarifies that his opposition to
Lenin on this, was based on his rejection of the view that the national
capitalist class in a colonial type country could play any anti-imperialist
Minutes of 2nd Congress CI, Cited by Adhikari,
Ibid. Vol 1. p.162.
"Lenin's theses on the National and Colonial Question
reiterate the principle of self-determination. I disagreed with his view
that the nationalist bourgeoisie played a historically revolutionary role
and therefore should be supported by the Communists. The Polish Communists
of the Luxemburg school used to remark in joke that I was true Communists
while Lenin was a nationalist."
Roy's semi-Trotskyite view was supported at the Congress
by Giacinto Serrati of Italy and by Sultan-Zade of Persia.
M.N.Roy. "Memoirs" Bombay, 1964; p.355.
But Roy also deviated in other ways from Marxism-Leninism
in his Draft Supplementary Theses.
Firstly they declared that the revolutionary process
in colonial type countries was essentially "an economic struggle", thereby
rejecting the political (ie national-liberation) content of the revolutionary
process in colonial type countries:
"The revolutionary movements in the colonies are essentially
an economic struggle."
Lenin deleted this sentence from Roy's draft.
M.N.Roy, Draft Supplementary Theses, Cited Adhikari,
Secondly Roy's Draft Supplementary
Theses declared that colonial type countries exploitation was "the main"
source of strength of the developed capitalist countries:
"The fountain head from which European capitalism
draws its main strength is no longer to be found in the industrial countries
of Europe, but in the colonial possessions and dependencies."
Lenin amended this passage to read that colonial type exploitation
was "one" of the principal sources of strength:
M.N.Roy. Draft Supplementary Theses, Cited
Adhikari, Ibid, p.179.
"One of the main sources from which European capitalism
draws its chief strength is to be found in the colonial possessions and
Thirdly Roy declared, along with
Maoism, that super-profits from a colonial type country could be used to
give a concessions to the entire working class of the dominant developed
Supplementary Theses On the National and Colonial Question,
Ibid, p. 179.
"By exploiting the masses in the colonies, European imperialism
will be in a position to give concession after concession to the proletariat."
Lenin amended this passage to read the super-profit from
a colonial-type country could be used to give concession only to a stratum
of the working class in the developed dominant capitalist country:
Roy, Draft Supplementary Theses, In Ibid, p.180.
"By exploiting the masses in the colonies, European imperialism
will be in a position to give concession after concession to the labour
aristocracy at home."
Fourthly, Roy's Draft Supplementary
Theses declared that socialist revolution was not possible in the developed
capitalist countries, without prior successful national-democratic revolution
in the colonial type countries:
Supplementary Theses, Ibid, p.181.
"Without the breaking up of the colonial empire, the
overthrow of the capitalist system in Europe does not appear possible."
Lenin amended this passage to read:
Roy, Draft Supplementary Theses. Ibid, p. 180.
"The breaking up of the colonial empire, together with
the proletarian revolution in the home country will overthrow the capitalist
system in Europe,"
The minutes of the 2nd Congress confirm that Roy was opposed
on this point by Lenin:
and Lenin added:
"These two forces must be coordinated if the final success
of the world revolution is to be guaranteed."
Supplementary Theses. Ibid, p. 181.
"Comrade Roy defended the idea that the fate of the revolutionary
movement in Europe entirely depended on the course of the revolution in
the East. Without the triumph of the revolution in the eastern countries,
the communsit movement in the West would be reduced to naught.. Comrade
Lenin .. challenged.. Comrade Roy went too far, alleging that the fate
of the West depended solely on the development and strength of the revolutionary
movement in the Eastern countries."
The only change made in Lenin's original Draft Theses as
adopted by the congress was to make clear that the working class in a colonial
type country should support a bourgeois-led movement only if it was genuinely
revolutionary - the term "bourgeois democratic" being replaced by
the term "nationalist-revolutionary":
Minutes Cited Adhikari, Ibid, p. 162-63.
"We came to the conclusion that the only correct
thing to do was .. nearly everywhere to substitute the term "nationalist-revolutionary"
for the term "bourgeois-democratic". The meaning of this change is that
we Communists should and will, support bourgeois liberation movements in
the colonial countries only when these movements are really revolutionary."
At the same time Roy's viewpoint on the colonial question
contained positive features which contributed to the development of the
Marxist-Leninist theory of the revolutionary process in the colonial-type
Lenin. Report of the Commission of the National and Colonial
Questions. 2nd Congress CI, In Selected Works", Volume 10, London, 1946,
Firstly he drew attention
to the existence of a tendency within the bourgeoisie of these countries,
to compromise with imperialism:
"I maintained that afraid of revolution, the nationalist
bourgeoisie would compromise with imperialism in return for some economic
and political concessions to their class. The working class should be prepared
to take over at that crisis the leadership of the struggle for national
liberation and transform it into a revolutionary mass movement."
Roy saw the whole of the bourgeoisie as a compromising force,
and incorrectly drew the conclusion that the working class should not associate
itself with the bourgeoisie of a colonial type country nor support national
democratic liberation movements.
M.N.Roy, "Memoirs", Ibid, p.382.
Despite this, Lenin saw the positive factor in Roy's
This was that a distinction had to be drawn within
the bourgeoisie of a colonial-type country between a section which favoured
national-revolutionary struggle against foreign imperialism (later called
the "national bourgeoisie") and a section which favoured compromise with
imperialism and while it might profess support for the national liberation
movement, in practice objectively served imperialism by damping down national-revolutionary
struggle (later called the "comprador bourgeoisie"):
"I would like to particularly emphasise the question
of the bourgeois democratic movements in backward countries. It was this
question that gave rise to some disagreement. We argued about whether it
would be correct, in principle and in theory, to declare that the CI and
the CP's should support the bourgeois-democratic movement in backward countries.
As a result of this discussion we unanimously decided to speak of the nationalist-revolutionary
movements instead of the 'bourgeois-democratic' movement. There is not
the slightest doubt that every nationalist movement can only be a bourgeois-democratic
Secondly Roy in the original
Draft of his own Supplementary Theses, put forward the concept that if
the revolutionary process in a colonial type country were under the leadership
of the working class, such a country could avoid going through a period
of capitalist development:
But it was agreed that if we speak about the bourgeois-democratic
movement all distinction between reformist and revolutionary movements
will be obliterated; whereas in recent times this distinction has been
fully and clearly revealed in the backward and colonial countries, for
the imperialist bourgeois is trying with all its might to implant the reformist
movement also among the oppressed nations..
In the commission this was proved irrefutably, and we
came to the conclusion that the only correct thing to do was to take this
distinction into consideration and nearly everywhere to substitute the
term "nationalist-revolutionary" for the term"bourgeois-democratic". The
meaning of this change is that we communists should, and will, support
bourgeois liberation movements only when these movement do not hinder us
in training and organising the peasants and the broad masses of the exploited
in a revolutionary spirit.. The above mentioned distinction has now been
drawn in all the theses, and I think that, thanks to this, our point of
view has been formulated much more precisely."
Lenin. The Report Of the Commission on the National and
Colonial Questions, "Selected Works", Vol 10, London,
"The supposition that owing to the economic and industrial
backwardness the peoples in the colonies are bound to go through the stage
of bourgeois democratic is wrong.. If from the beginning the lead of the
revolution is in the hands of the Communist vanguard, the revolutionary
masses.. would go straight ahead through the successive periods of revolutionary
Lenin agreed with this, a concept that had not appeared in
his own Theses:
Roy, Draft Supplementary Theses. Cited Adhikari, Ibid.
"A rather lively debate on this question took place in
the commission, not only in connection with the these which I signed but
still more in connection with Cmde Roy's Theses which Cmde Roy will defend
here and which with certain amendments were adopted unanimously.
On this basis was elaborated the Marxist-Leninist Theses
that if the working class were able to gain leadership of the national-democratic
revolution this revolution could be transformed relatively uninterruptedly,
into a socialist revolution.
The question was presented in the following way :
'Can we recognise as correct the assertion that the capitalist
stage of development of national economy is inevitable for those backward
countries which are now liberating themselves?..
We reply to this question in the negative. If the revolutionary
victorious proletariat carries on a systematic propaganda amongst them,
and of the Soviet governments render them all the assistance they possibly
can, it will be wrong to assume that the capitalist stage is inevitable
for the backward nationalities. The CI must lay down and give the theoretical
grounds for the proposition that, with the aid of the proletariat of the
most advanced countries the backward countries may pass to the Soviet system
and, after passing through a definite stage of development, to Communism,
without passing through the capitalist stage of development."
Lenin, Report of the Commission,Ibid, Vol 10, p.243.
Thirdly, Roy drew attention
to the fact that in some colonial-type countries-such as India and China-
a significant native working class had already developed and was objectively
capable of gaining the leadership of the national-democratic revolutionary
movements in these countries:
"A new movement among the exploited masses has started
in India, which has spread rapidly and found expression in gigantic strike
movements. this mass movement is not controlled by the revolutionary nationalists,
but is developing independently in spite of the fact that the nationalists
are endeavouring to make use of it for their own purposes. This movement
of the masses is of a revolutionary character."
Roy made the same point in his original Supplementary Theses,
although he wrongly presented the movement of the working class in a colonial
type country as in fundamental contradiction with the bourgeois nationalist
M.N.Roy. Speech at the 2nd Congress CI, Cited Adhikari,
"There are to be found in the dependent countries two
distinct movements which every day grow further and farther apart from
each other. One is the bourgeois democratic nationalist movement, with
a programme of political independence and the other is the mass action
of the ignorant and poor peasants and workers."
This point was the main reason Lenin approved that his own
Theses be supplemented by Roy's:
Roy: Draft Supp. Theses, In Adhikari, Ibid, p.184.
"Both in his speeches and his theses (at the 2nd Congress
of CI-ed) Lenin has in mind the countries where:
Lenin in his Report and Theses at the 2nd congress of the
CI saw (in the absence of a significant working class in the backward colonial-type
countries with which he was primarily concerned) the leadership of the
national democratic revolution by the working class as being exercised
by the working class of the developed capitalist countries and in particular
by the working class of Soviet Russia:
"There can be no question of purely proletarian movement,'
where, 'There is practically no industrial proletariat."
Why were the Supplementary Theses needed? In order to single
out from the backward colonial countries which have no industrial proletariat
such countries as China and India, of which it cannot be said that they
have 'practically no industrial proletariat'. Read the "Supplementary Theses",
and you will realise that they refer chiefly to China and India...
How could it happen that Roy's special Theses were needed
to "Supplement" Lenin's theses? The fact is that Lenin's Theses were written
and published long before the Second Congress opened.. prior to the discussion
in the Special Commission of the Second Congress. And since the Second
Congress revealed the necessity for singling out from the backward countries
such countries as China and India the necessity for 'Supplementary Theses'
J.V.Stalin:"Concerning Questions of the Chinese Revolution",
"Works", Volume 9, Moscow, 1954; p.236-238.
"If the revolutionary victorious proletariat carries
on systematic propaganda among them, and if the Soviet governments render
them all the assistance they possibly can.. the backward countries may
pass to the Soviet system, and after passing through a definite stage of
development to Communism without passing though the capitalists stage of
Finally Roy's view was that the
whole of the bourgeoisie in the colonial type countries was essentially
counter-revolutionary. Although as he put it this was incorrect, it contained
an element of truth later embodied in the Marxist-Leninist formulation
that, to the extent that the working class was seen to be winning the leadership
of the national-democratic movements, even the national bourgeoisie (which
desires independence) will then desert the national democratic revolution
and go over to the side of the imperialist counter-revolution. In fact
they will prefer a subordinate exploiting position under imperialism to
the ending of the exploitation that would be brought about as the working
class uses its leading position to transform the national-democratic revolutions
into a socialist revolution.
Lenin. Report on the Commission. Ibid, Vol 10: p.243.
The germ of this Marxist-Leninist position was incorporated
into the "Theses on the Eastern Question", adopted by the 4th
Congress of the CI in November 1922.
"At first the indigenous(national-ed) bourgeois and intelligentsia
are the champions of the colonial revolutionary movements, but as the proletarian
and semi-proletarian peasant masses are drawn in, the bourgeois and bourgeois-agrarian
elements begin to turn away for the movement in proportion as the social
interests of the lower classes of people come to the forefront."
In conclusion, Roy provided some vital insights that were
openly endorsed by Lenin and later Stalin. These
insights helped clarify and form the line to be adopted.
Theses on the Eastern Question, 4th Congress CI, J.Degras
(ed)"The Communist International:1919-1943: Documents", Volume 1; London;
Roy's Leftist theory was of a different order of the conscious
and disruptive Leftism of Trotsky. By his contributions to the debate,
Roy enhanced and supported the development of a Marxist-leninist line.
Basically Roy supported by his views the development of the revolutionary
process in colonial countries. Trotsky could not.
Trotsky delivered the Main
Report at the Third Congress of the CI in 1921. He touched on the colonial
system along the original, and unmodified Leftist lines of Roy, but took
these even further. According to Trotsky:
1) Imperialism is industrialising
the colonial-type countries especially Indian and China.
2) The bourgeoisie of a colonial
type country is essentially a comprador bourgeoisie since it is "intimately
bound up with foreign capital", and "represents a large measure an agency
of foreign capital".
3) Therefore the struggle of the bourgeoisie of
colonial type country against foreign imperialism is not merely"inconsistent"and
"half-hearted", but "semi-fictitious".
4) The mere development of a working class in such
a colonial type country paralyses any national-liberation aspirations on
the part of the bourgeoisie.
5) Therefore even the national-democratic
revolution can only achieve victory under the leadership of the working
"The third source of revolutionary struggle is
the industrialisation of the colonies, above all India, The basis for the
liberation struggle of the colonies is constituted by the peasant masses.
But the peasants in their struggle need leadership. Such a leadership used
to be provided by the native bourgeoisie. The latter's struggle against
foreign imperialist domination cannot, however, be either consistent or
energetic in as much as the native bourgeoisie intimately bound up with
foreign capital and represents to a large measure an agency of foreign
capital. Only the rise of a native proletariat strong enough numerically
and capable of struggle can provide a real axis for the revolution." L.Trotsky
:Report in the World Economic Crisis and the New task of the CI, 3rd Congress
CI, In: "The First Five years of The Communist International." Vol 1, London,
FORMATION OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA
"The vigorous development of capitalism in the Orient,
especially in India and China has created there new social foundations
for the revolutionary struggle. The bourgeoisie of these countries, its
capitalist core, has become even more intimately tied to foreign capital
and thus constitutes an essential instrument of foreign domination. Its
struggle against foreign imperialism - the struggle of a weaker competitor
- is by its very nature only half-hearted and semi-fictitious. The development
of the native proletariat paralyses the revolutionary-nationalist tendencies
of the colonial bourgeoisie. But concurrently in the person of the conscious
Communist vanguard, the multi-millioned peasant masses obtain a genuinely
Trotsky, Ibid. p. 302
There were a number of different pro-Communist groups
within India. During the winter of 1922-23, Roy attempted to unify the
following communist groups in India into a single party:
But a proposed conference to be held in Berlin never
materialised. Ahmad was arrested trying to get there and the others refused
to undertake the venture. Roy was then heavily involved with advice to
both Singaravelu Chettiar and Sripad Dange on the organisation of broad
legal Workers and peasants parties (WPP). This is discussed in more detail
below. After the Cawnpore Conspiracy Case of 1924 (See below), these ventures
were somewhat retarded also.
1.That in Bombay led by Sripad Dange;
2. That in Calcutta led by Muzaffar Ahmad;
3. That in Madras led by Singaravelu Chettiar;
4. That in Lahore led by Ghulam Hussain.
The Communist Party Of Great Britain (CPGB) had
tried with Charles Ashleigh's mission in 1922 to make contact with
the Indian workers, but failed. Percy Glading in 1925 also failed.
However, the CPGB still claimed in 1925 to have the 'right' to direct all
communist work throughout the British Empire. Roy angrily rejected this
as "imperialism". But the Conference in Amsterdam on July 11-12th 1925,
called by the Eastern Section of the CI discussed plans for "An Oriental
Conference". It marked a new stage in the leadership of the CPI, which
effectively was removed from Roy's direction:
"In this conference M.N.Roy's attitude was criticised
.. A resolution was passed that the task of the forming of the party in
India should be taken over by the British Communist Party. From then onwards
the British CP looked after Indian party affairs."
The official History of the CPI,by Dr.Gangadhar Adhikari
tries to minimise this take over. He claims the episode was an unjustified
attempt by Roy to ensure that Roy could direct work of Indians living within
Britain (Adhikari, Documents of the CPI, Ibid, Volume 2. p.562).
C.V.Rao "Bharatha Communist Party Nirvana Charitrea"
("Formation of CPI)", Vijyawadda1943; p.26.
Nonetheless, Roy's influence was naturally high, and
his appraisal of the Indian movement was better than the British. This
meant that he could not be excluded entirely.
But when Roy was sent to China by the ECCI in January
1927 (See below), Ben Bradley and Philip Spratt of the CPGB remained
to be effectively in control.
In September 1924,"Satyabhakta" (whose real name
was Chakanlal) announced the formation of an Indian CP. But the conference
called by him, set out with a mandate to achieve Swaraj purely by constitutional
means. He also wished not to join the CI. The Conference at Cawnpore, met
on December 26th-28th 1925 under the Chairmanship of Singaravelu Chettiar.
But Satyabhakta, by his own admission was "over-taken"
by other workers. The conference adopted a Constitution and elected a Central
Executive Committee (CEC) with Sachidanand Ghate and Janaki Bagerhatta
as Joint First Secretaries. Though elected to the CEC, Satyabhakta resigned
on the issue of affiliation to the CI. In a letter dated March 20th, 1926
to Bagerhatta, Roy advised immediate affiliation to the CI. In 1959
the Secretariat of the CPI accepted that the Cawnpore Conference of December
1925 was the Foundation Conference of the CPI.
ROY IN PRACTICAL WORK
Despite his tendency to ultra-leftism, in relation to
India, Roy's line in general correctly followed Lenin's tactics. But Roy
did continue to especially point to the lack of spine in the bourgeoisie:
"The more the British Government makes concessions to
the Indian bourgeoisie, the more ambitious the latter becomes. It knows
quite well that it is necessary to make compromises with the imperial capital,
till the time comes when it will be in a position to openly contend for
the right of monopoly of exploitation with the foreigner. But it also knows
that British imperialism cannot be overthrown without the help of the masses.
So to deceive the workers.. the bourgeoisie has thrown open the doors of
the Indian National Congress to the masses."
This view of Roy, had earlier led him to flirt with Trotskyism.
But, ultimately Roy rejected Trotsky, upon principled grounds, at the critical
time that Trotsky was marshalling forces to attack Stalin over Stalin's
"alleged failure" in China.
"India in Transition." p. 367. Cited in Documents of
the History of the Communist Party of India; Vol 1 1917-1922. Editor G.Adhikari.
IN POINT OF FACT, IN HIS IMPLEMENTED POLITICAL LINE
ROY'S VIEW WAS NOT DISSIMILAR TO STALIN'S ON INDIA (SEE BELOW).
But, in his theory, Roy underplayed the role of the national
bourgeoisie. In fact to bolster his views, Roy would frequently exaggerate
the strength of the working class. No doubt that is what Lenin warned him
against in his book "India In Transition":
"According to Roy, Lenin.. "Studied the report carefully..
warning me against wishful interpretation of facts,"
Or perhaps Lenin meant to warn against the manifestly inaccurate
assertion of Roy's that there were in India no 'remnants of feudalism'
Communist League, M.N.Roy Report Part One, London, 1977,
"Contrary to the general reaction, India is not under
the feudal system. In India, feudalism was.. undermined.. by a slow comparatively
peaceful and gradual process.. The last vestiges of feudalism were shattered
by the failure of the revolution of 1857."
Thus, Roy did tend towards a certain Leftism towards the
national bourgeoisie, but he also usually accepted and implemented the
Leninist line in practice. The facts of his career show this to be so,
in both India and China. His defense of Stalin's line in the Chinese revolution,
against Borodin and the hidden revisionist members of the CPC (including
Mao Tse-Tung - See M.N.Roy Report Part Two, London, 1977) show this
to be so. His defense of the Marxist-Leninist line, marked also a rupture
of his relations with Trotsky, whose attack on Stalin was rebuffed by Roy.
M.N.Roy and Abani Mukherji, "India In Transition", Cited
C.L. Ibid, Report Part One. p.24
In some ways, Roy was correct in his original estimation
of the degree to which capitalist relations had penetrated the Indian sub-continent.
As described above, Marx's attitude to the railways pointed the way for
Roy's view. The degree of industrialisation would support Roy in his view
of the strength of the changing capitalist relations, though he over-emphasised
it. Following this track Roy tended to overestimate the proletarian movements.
Thus, early on he underestimated the resilience of Gandhi's sway
over the masses:
"The impending wane of Gandhism signifies the collapse
of the reactionary force and their total elimination from the political
Nonetheless, despite this he tried to work with the "best"
elements and win them across. He did this not only with the beginning of
the Workers and Peasants Party formed by Singaravelu Chettiar;
but also with the work of this party within the Congress Party as
he proposed to Sripad A. Dange.
Roy Cited by G.D.Overstreet and M.Windmiller."Communism
in India." Berkeley 1960, p.40.
In this he correctly distinguished between the wings
of the national and comprador bourgeoisie. He had a clear view of the Congress,
and how to work with it:
"Roy correctly looked upon the Congress not as
a tightly organized political party, but as the "traditional organ for
the National struggle." Within the Congress were blocs that competed for
control of the entire organisation.. Roy's plan became apparent in a series
of articles for "Advance Guard".. the plan consisted of two elements:
Roy believed that this would result in a growth of a truly
revolutionary mass party:
First these Indians who had already accepted Communist
ideology were to from an opposition bloc in the Congress and try to capture
the leadership. Second, congressmen with liberal views were to be propagandised."
Overstreet and Windmiller Ibid. p. 45.
"The revolutionary factions believing in mass action
should form an Opposition Block within Congress.. this.. will eventually
grow into the revolutionary party for the people destined to be the leader
of a final struggle, should put forth a Program calculated to give fresh
impetus to the waning enthusiasm of the masses and thus draw them into
the political struggle.. in a letter to Dange he wrote:.. the new mass
party must not part company with the INC but bid for its leadership."
In his letter to Sripad Dange, Roy was responding to Danges'
call in "The Socialist" of September 16th 1922, for a broad legal "workers
and peasants party" to operate within the Indian National Congress (INC).
He agreed with Dange, and made the basic points that the working class
should attempt to take over the leadership, otherwise as the 2nd Congress
of the CI had discussed, the bourgeoisie would ultimately desert and betray
Cited Overstreet and Windmiller, Ibid. p.45-6.
"A revolutionary mass party has to be organised as a
part of the Congress.. The social basis of this party will be the workers
and peasants and the political direction of the party should be in the
hands of the Communists and socialists, who alone can be the custodians
of the interest of the toiling masses. But in order that the communists
and socialists can take an active and leading part in the struggle, determining
its course and destinies by revolutionary and courageous leadership, a
legal apparatus for our activities ins needed. The People's party will
provide the legal apparatus,"
As this and other material ("Memorandum to the Conference
for Organising a Working Class Party in India", Volume 2 Adhikari, Ibid,
p.147.) makes clear, Roy was correctly putting forward the line of the
CI (still following the Marxist-Leninist line) that there was a "revolutionary
significance" to the national bourgeoisie; that it represented for the
Workers and Peasants Party an opportunity to become part of a broader
anti-imperialist united front:
Roy to S.A.Dange. November 2nd and Dec.19th 1922, In
Adhikari, Vol 1, Ibid. p.595. and Vol 2. p.98.
"Upon our ability to formulate these principal points
in the political aspects of our programmer will depend the possibility
of a working alliance between the working-class party and the bourgeois-nationalist
parties. This alliance should be sought during the anti-imperialist struggle."
The same memorandum states clearly that the Workers and Peasants
Party should be distinct from the Communist Party, but that the highest
level members will be in both. He saw the need for the CPI to be underground
and legal, with the WPP as its open above ground organiser. But that it
should also have members whose consciousness was not Communist. (See memorandum,
Contained in Adhikari. Vol 2, New Delhi, 1974, p.147
In accordance, with this he assiduously courted leading
Left Congress men, like Sampurnanand (later Chief Minister of Uttar
Pradesh); but especially Chitta Ranjan Das (C.R.Das) a leading Bengali
politician who in 1921 was President Elect of The INC. Indeed Das would
"I do not want the sort of Swaraj which will be for the
Middle classes alone.. I want Swaraj for the masses, not for the classes.
I don't care for the bourgeoisie. How few are they ? "
Indeed, the police files concluded that the influence of
Cited Ibid. p. 47.
"Imparted more than a Communist tinge to the utterances
of C.R.Das and other Congress leaders."
But Das and others were scared off, by the provocations launched
by the Secret Intelligence agencies and the Reuters Despatches.
Home Pol; 1923, No.111. Cited by Bairathi, S. Ibid, p.72.
An Action Program that had been intended for the INC,
at the 37 the Annual Session at the December 26th, 1922 GAYA Conference;
and penned by Roy, was widely printed as a "Bolshevik" despatch. Enhancing
the imperialist plot to discredit Roy, Roy also 'shot himself in the foot'.
For in Demand Two he did include a Leftist Deviation,
namely that the Principal Means of Production would be taken over and operated
by workers' committees.
This provocation - of leaking his letter - occurred
on the occasion of a major debate between Das and Gandhi on the question
of Non-Cooperation as applied to the Montague-Chelmsford Reforms, and effectively
it stopped any on-going active joint collaboration between the "official"
INC and the Communists. Nonetheless at this same conference, S.A.Dange
and Singaravelu Chettiar openly declared themselves as Communists, and
with Das formed an organisation for labour.
But, the imperialists did achieve their desired effect
- of scaring off collaboration between Congress and communists. It scared
off Das and his faction who backed away from the struggle with Gandhi;
professing abhorrence at tactics of violence being proposed by the Communists.
As well as being scared off from the Communists, Das and his program for
Council entry (to disrupt the imperialists inside the councils) was rejected
by the Congress.
Das then formed a separate party named the Congress
Khilifat Swaraj Party within the INC.
The imperialists now launched the Cawnpore Conspiracy
Case which in March 1924 prosecuted eight Indian Communists, Dange,
Roy, Ramscharanlal Sharma, Muzzafar Ahmad, Shaukat Usmani, Ghulam Hussain,
Nalini Gupta and Myaluram Singaravelu Chettiar. Roy was abroad, but thought
the defence in the Trial was poor, and did not help the cause.
Therefore the charge that Roy was sectarian and Ultra-Leftist
in practical action regarding the National bourgeois, must be rejected
from the evidence of his actual practical work in India.
He correctly applied United Front policy; saw that the
proletariat had to be independent in such fronts, and saw the ultimate
refusal of the national bourgeoisie to light the flames of anti-imperialism
if they were to be themselves quickly engulfed.
In fact in a later judgement, given after his ostracisation
from the ECCI, the British Secret Service saw his role (as compared to
the "vaporous thunderings" of the official ECCI-recognised member of the
CPI, one Deshpande) rather clearly as the biggest enemy they
had to contend with:
"There is no gainsaying that fact that even in the seven
months during which he was at large in India, Roy did very considerable
mischief, despite the fact the Police were continually hot on his heels.
His doctrines gained many adherents in Bombay and the United Provinces,
and at a later date also in Calcutta and its environs. He made serious
and by no means unsuccessful endeavours to impregnate the Congress with
his views and was received well, by several of the Congress leaders in
different parts of India. Even Mr.Gandhi was aware of his presence in the
Congress pandal (Enclosure) at Karachi. Judged from his intellectual standpoint,
Roy, ever a realist, stands out head and shoulders above all other Indian
Communist leaders with the possible exception of Dr.G.M.Adhikari, and his
continuous exhortation to:
In the Communist International, Roy defended his notions.
In the Fourth Congress, in 1922, he
argued to the Congress that:
"Eschew the disastrous ultra-left policy"-
Overstreet and Windmiller,p.148 Citing police intelligence
From "India and Communism p.164.
were calculated in the end to win over many more adherents
to Communism than Deshpande's vaporous thunderings could ever have done."
"There comes a time when these people (the bourgeoisie)
are bound to betray the movement and become a counter revolutionary force.
Unless we are prepared to train politically the other social element who
is objectively more revolutionary to step into their places and assume
the leadership the ultimate victory of the nationalist struggle becomes
problematic for the time being."
This generally correct line of course had to be interpreted
in various settings. But events were moving fast within the Communist International
Cited Overstreet and Windmiller, Ibid. p. 52.
By the Fifth Congress,
despite Roy's opposition, the ECCI was preparing to establish direct relations
between the ECCI and the Indian National Congress. This implied to Roy
an over-reliance on the nationalists, with potential to limit the workers
independence of action. Roy argued that:
"The proposed resolution says that in order to win over
the people of colonial and semi-colonized countries, there must be a:
But the ECCI rejected Roy's implied repudiation
of the Indian National Congress having the sole control of the national
'Further development of the Executive with the national
movements for emancipation."'
It is true that we must always have a connection with these
national movements but it seems to have been overlooked that these movements
have not always been successful".
Roy then quoted Lenin's Second Thesis:
'The CI should support revolutionary movements in the
colonies for the exclusive purpose of uniting the various units of the
future proletarian parties and educating them to the consciousness of their
specific tasks, that is to the tasks of the struggle against the bourgeois
democratic tendencies in their respective nationalities'.
If this is our task concluded Roy;
'Then we must have direct connection with the masses
but the resolution says that we must have direct connection with the national
liberation movements. These include all sorts of classes and aims. We shall
never progress if we stand by this vague formula, our failure has been
due to theoretical confusion."
Cited Overstreet and Windmiller. Ibid p. 70-1.
Furthermore, the ECCI virtually directed the CPGB
to take control of the direction of struggle in India:
"Resolution 18. In addition to winning the support of
the peasant masses and of the oppressed national minorities the ECCI in
its instructions always emphasised the necessity for winning over the revolutionary
movements for emancipation of the colonial people and for all the peoples
of the East so as to make them the revolutionary allies of the capitalist
countries. This requires not only the extension of the direct contact between
the Executive and the national emancipation movements of the Orient but
also very close contact between the sections in the imperialist countries
with the colonies of those countries and in the first place a constant
struggle against the imperialist colonial policy of the bourgeoisie in
Manuilsky publicly rebuked Roy for deviation and nihilism.
The Congress appointed a commission (which included among others Roy, Manuilsky,
Stalin and Katayama) to review the colonial question and prepare detailed
recommendations. At the subsequent Plenum of the ECCI, the Comintern continued
ostensibly to regard the Indian bourgeoisie as having great potential:
Overstreet and Windmiller, Ibid p. 70-1.
"The old Gandhi movement of non-violence has collapsed
and was followed by the Swarajist Party with its policy of parliamentary
obstruction. This Party has come to the point of collapse and is now tending
to decompose into a smaller center group between the bourgeois parties
on the one side and the revolutionary mass movement on the other.. The
Commission proposes the following.. it is necessary for the Communists
to work in the National Congress and in the Left wing of the Swaraj Party,
All nationalist organisations should be formed into the mass revolutionary
Though the Gandhian party was far from collapse, the general
assessment of need to work within the INC was correct at this stage. In
fact, Roy's own practice at this stage was very similar to that argued
for by the CI (See above). He had been a major influence on Das, and the
Cited Overstreet and Windmiller, p. 73-4.
But while Roy had no desire to switch from this line,
the CI was preparing to switch. Actually, very soon the CI was to take
a major swing to the Ultra-Left, adopting effectively a Trotskyite line.
The Communist Party Great Britain (CPGB)
now took up the direction of the CPI, with a resulting serious struggle
between the CPGB and Roy.
Roy charged the CPGB with "imperialism". This struggle
became temporarily patched up (See p.75 Overstreet & Windmiller Ibid,
and Imperialism of the CPGB, by Communist League, M.N.Roy Report Part 1,
April 1977, p.40).
In order to facilitate this take over of the CPI by the
CPGB, Roy was diverted away from Indian affairs. The ECCI arranged
that he be sent to China on a special mission to the Communist Party of
China during their alliance with the Kuomintang; the national bourgeoisie.
The revisionists of the ECCI sent Roy on his mission
to China, anticipating that he would assist them in their covert disruption
of the international movement, particularly if he had to work with Borodin,
their other representative in China. He had after all had a disagreement
with Lenin over the Colonial Theses at the 2nd Congress. Actually Roy wanted
to go to India, and not to China at all. Roy had accepted the Mission at
Stalin's behest and "promise that if he was successful", Roy would then
be sent to India (p.94 Overstreet and Windmiller, Ibid).
Whilst in China he proposed a Marxist-Leninist line
that fitted in well with Stalin's view. Roy defended the line of Lenin
in practice in China. Unfortunately owing to the revisionism of the Chinese
Communist Party (CPC), and the other envoy of the ECCI, Borodin, a correct
line was distorted and the massacres of the Chinese workers took place.
This was nothing less than a sabotage perpetrated by Borodin and the CPC
Both Borodin and the CPC had fought against Stalin's
urgent instructions and Roy's own similar instructions to escalate the
class struggle as the bourgeois allies were about to renege. The ensuing
massacre of the Chinese workers and peasants was not the responsibility
of either Stalin or Roy (M.N.Roy Report, Part II, December 1977. p.1-35).
Bourgeois historians Overstreet and Windmiller agree
that the ECCI was responsible for the debacle:
"Roy's China mission was a failure, but the fault was
not his. The fault lay in the Comintern policy of preserving the Kuomintang
alliance at the cost of weakening the CPC. Certainly the events in China
seemed to confirm what Roy had been arguing ever since his debate with
Lenin; that the bourgeois nationalists could not be trusted and that they
would betray the revolution."
It was NOT Stalin who prevented a timely rupture of
the CPC with the counter revolutionary Kuomintang. It was the Comintern
ECCI revisionists. The details of the failure of the Chinese Revolution
can be found in Part Two of the M.N.Roy Report of the CL, London, 1977.
[Later Note see also: Open Letter to Ludo Martens].
Overstreet and Windmiller, Ibid. p.94
The ECCI, having dislodged Roy as the leader of the Indian
forces, now also dislodged Stalin from the ECCI. This dislodgment was effected
by distortedly presenting the Chinese Revolution as being the Failure of
M.N.Roy's Mission to China and Stalin's leadership. It is true that Trotsky's
open attacks on Stalin were successfully rebuffed. But Dmitri Manuilsky
and Otto Kuusinen were more subtle. They used the debacle to
distort the Marxist-Leninist line on the role of the revolutionary
bourgeois. They now repudiated it saying that the experience in China had
shown its lack of value.
The Chinese experience was in reality a sabotage of
the correct Marxist-Leninist tactics.
It is in connection with the Chinese mission, that Roy
showed his true allegiance to Stalin. When the defeat of the CPC in China
(under the ill-advised leadership of Borodin and the CPC) was made the
focal point of an attack on Stalin by Trotsky, Roy defended Stalin's advice
to the CPC. In this defence he repudiated Trotsky's claim on Roy's allegiance.
It is not surprising that he was considered a "Stalinist" by his enemies
such as Saumyendranath Tagore:
"It is clear that Roy's expulsion was not due to any
difference with Stalinism. Roy the careerist always served the man in power.
He was always the most servile agent of Stalin and is still the Stalinist
with the hope that the wheel of fortune may turn in his favour."
This Tagore, a leader of the Bengal Workers and Peasants
Party arrived in Moscow in 1927, and one of his actions was to denounce
Roy. He accused Roy, when he met with Osip Piatnitsky; (later exposed
as a revisionist, but then the Treasurer of the Comintern) of fabricating
members of the CPI and of misappropriating funds. To these charges Overstreet
and Windmiller find:
Overstreet and Windmiller, Ibid, p. 141.
"It is not fair to accuse him on the basis of the available
evidence. His work in Europe was costly.. he was obliged to travel extensively..
and to bribe, not only to ship literature to India but to assure his own
freedom of movement."
By the Sixth Congress of Communist
International, Roy was publicly excoriated. At this Congress
in fact the line of the CI became overtly Ultra-Leftist (See below). Roy
was actually finally expelled from the CI in 1930. Of course following
this, Roy degenerated into a bourgeois humanism, and gave even more weight
to the bourgeois of the INC. But this occurred after his persecution by
the revisionist ECCI and does not invalidate his earlier contributions.
THE ATTITUDE OF J.V. STALIN TO THE INDIAN REVOLUTION
Stalin, when addressing the People's of the East had distinguished
by 1925: "at least three categories of colonial and dependent countries":
"Firstly countries like Morocco who have little or not
proletariat, and are industrially quite undeveloped. Secondly countries
like China and Egypt which are under-developed industries and have a relatively
small proletariat. Thirdly countries like India, which are capitalistically
more or less developed and have a more or less numerous national proletariat.
Clearly all these countries cannot possibly be put on a par with one another."
So already, Stalin had distinguished between India and China,
on the basis of the degree of proletarianisation. Though Roy took it "one
step too far", he was saying something very similar to this. Consistent
with these differences in the countries, there were differences in the
maturity and the differentiation of the bourgeoisie; and therefore of the
proletariat. The bourgeoisie was even more likely than to be scared stiff
of the democratic revolution inflaming the socialist masses.
J.V.Stalin. "Political Tasks of the University of Peoples
of the East." May 18. 1925. Reprinted San Francisco, 1975 in : J.V.Stalin.
Marxism and the National Colonial question. p.317-8
"The situation is somewhat different in countries like
India. The fundamental and new feature of the conditions of life in countries
like India is not only that the national bourgeoisie has split up into
a revolutionary part and a compromising part, but primarily that the compromising
section of the bourgeoisie has already managed, in the main, to strike
a deal with imperialism, Fearing revolution more than it fears imperialism,
and concerned with more about its money bags than about the interests of
its own country, this section of the bourgeoisie is going over entirely
to the camp of the irreconcilable enemies of the revolution, it is forming
a bloc with imperialism against the workers and peasants of its own country."
So the Indian bourgeoisie already, in 1925 contained "moneybag"
sections that had reneged. Gandhi's responses at Chauri Chaura confirmed
this analysis (See above) From these differentiations flowed the tasks
of the Indian proletariat:
Stalin, Ibid. p.318
"The victory of the revolution cannot be achieved unless
this bloc is smashed, but in order to smash this bloc, fire must be concentrated
on the compromising national bourgeoisie, its treachery exposed, the toiling
masses freed from its influence, and the conditions necessary for the hegemony
of the proletariat systematically prepared. In other words, in colonies
like India it is a matter of preparing the proletariat for the role of
leader of the liberation movement, step by step dislodging the bourgeoisie
and its mouthpieces from this honourable post. The task is to create an
anti-imperialist bloc and to ensure the hegemony of the proletariat in
this bloc. This bloc can assume although it need not always necessarily
do so, the form of a single Workers and Peasants Party, formally bound
by a single platform. In such centuries the independence of the Communist
Party must be, the chief slogan of the advanced communist elements, for
the hegemony of the proletariat can be prepared and brought about by the
Communist party. But the communist party can and must enter into an open
bloc with the revolutionary part of the bourgeoisie in order, after isolating
the compromising national bourgeoisie, to lead the vast masses of the urban
and rural petty bourgeoisie in the struggle against imperialism."
We can conclude that in the view of Stalin, there were
indeed TWO wings of the Indian bourgeoisie.
J.V.Stalin p.318-9 Ibid.
One wing had already by 1925 concluded a pact with imperialism.
Unfortunately this section is not named by Stalin. But given the nature
of events, as outlined above this faction was clearly that of Gandhi. The
Indian National Congress had already split by this time into two broad
factions. These subsequently reunited at various times, but always stayed
within the same party apparatus, the INC.
Unfortunately, the leadership of these factions, over
the national struggles, was NOT effectively countered by the workers and
peasants, led by the Communists; as had been advised by Stalin.
It should also be clear, that Stalin was one of the
leading proponents of the Workers
and Peasants Parties. These parties in
India had a major role to play and carried great sway.
But, it was precisely these parties that the hidden revisionists
wanted to disrupt. It was also these parties, towards which in practice
Roy had been following a correct line. In his memorandum to the Lucknow
Conference of the WPP, in letters to S.A.Dange, as discussed before, Roy
took a correct line in urging the WPP to take part in the Congress Party.
(M.N.Roy Report part One. Ibid, p.34).
The CI now proceeded to implement a disastrous
Ultra-Left Turn. This in effect took Royism to its logical conclusion-
a step that as we have indicated Roy never actually took in practice. This
logical conclusion was to deny any need to work with and for United Front
with the revolutionary bourgeoisie. As part of this Ultra-Leftism,
"non-pure" Communist organisations, such as the Workers and Peasants Parties
were to be destroyed.
SIXTH CONGRESS COMINTERN
REVISIONISTS TURN ULTRA-LEFT ; OTTO KUUSINEN, AND WANG MING
Stalin was elected to the Presidium of the 6th Congress,
to the commission to draft the "Theses on the International Situation and
the Tasks of the Communist International", and to draft the Programme of
the CI. But crucially, he attended only the opening session of the congress,
and took no part in its proceedings.
The Congress was dominated by Otto Kuusinen.
Kuusinen later showed himself as a proven open revisionist (See his participation
at the infamous 20th Party Congress of the CPSU) but for the moment he
remained a hidden revisionist. At the Sixth Comintern Congress in 1928,
he denied that the Indian bourgeoisie had already joined with imperialism:
"He drew pointed attention to the Congress campaign
for non-payment of taxes in the Bardoli district which was being conducted
under the direction of Gandhi and mentioned Jawarharlal Nehru's participation
in the Congress at Brussels as an example of revolutionary possibilities
possessed by the Indian bourgeoisie."
This statement was incorrect as it tended to widen the Front
in a Right opportunist manner, by inadequately distinguishing between Nehru
and Gandhi. However despite this, the statements did show an overall correct
assessment of the possibility of work with the INC. However, simultaneously
there were far more ominous strains being sounded. As Bairathi puts it:
Shashi Bairathi Delhi, 1987. "Communism and Nationalism
in India." p.222, p.111.
"The realistic moments in the Reports of the 6th Congress
were overshadowed by its basic orientation in favour of inevitability of
treasonable action by the national bourgeoisie. This dominant idea.. was
a serious concession to the Left sectarian deviation."
The Comintern was being directed towards a sectarian mode
that was narrowing the possibility of any principled United Front as advocated
by Stalin above. The line took wing by open and vehement denunciations:
p.111. Bairathi, Ibid,
"The Draft Platform of Action of the CPI denigrated not
only Gandhi but left nationalist reformists like Jawaharlal
Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose as well. Indian communists were directed
to work independently of the Congress party for the "violent overthrow
of British rule" and "the establishment of a Soviet Government and Indian
Federal Workers and Peasants Soviet Republic." S.Bairathi,
In fact the line of the CI was now in contradiction to
both Lenin and Stalin. Lenin had said that:
"We Communists should and will support bourgeois liberation
movements in the colonial countries .. when these movements are really
The Theses of the Congress paid lip service to both Lenin
and Stalin's views on the matter. They also paid lip service to the need
to find genuine national-revolutionary movements to work with; recognise
the division of the colonial bourgeoisie into two sections including the
comprador section; and even speak of a "radical profound objective contradiction
of interest between the national bourgeoisie and imperialism".
Lenin, Report of the Commission on the national and Colonial
Question, Ibid, vol 10, p.241.
However the essence of the later CI Theses is that
no section of the bourgeoisie can be a significant ally:
"The national bourgeoisie is incapable of offering
any serious resistance to imperialism.. The national bourgeoisie has not
the significance of a force in the struggle against imperialism."
The Theses then draw the conclusion that:
Theses on the Revolutionary Movement in the Colonies
and Semi-Colonies, 6th Congress CI, in "International Press Correspondence",
Vol 8, No.88, Dec 12th, 1928. p.1666, 1667.
"Without the hegemony of the proletariat.. the bourgeois-democratic
revolution (in a colonial type country) cannot be carried through to the
In order to be credible, an economic basis for this statement
was required. the Theses accordingly proclaimed that:
"The bourgeoisie.. is by its immediate interests so closely
bound up with landlordism, with usury capital and with the exploitation
of the peasant masses in general that it takes its stand not only against
the agrarian revolution but also against every decisive agrarian reform."
Therefore according to the Theses, the national bourgeoisie
although they may profess to support the national-liberation movement represent
a "vacillating compromising tendency", a "reformist" and not a revolutionary
force in relation to the national-democratic revolution:
Theses Ibid, p.1666.
"The remaining portions of the native bourgeoisie (ie
other than that comprador bourgeoisie-ed) especially the portion reflecting
the interests of the native industry, support the national movement and
represent a special vacillating, compromising tendency which may be designated
as national reformism (or in the terminology of the theses of the Second
Congress of the CI, a 'bourgeois-democratic' tendency)'.
BUT AT THE 2ND CONGRESS OF THE CI IN 1920, LENIN DID NOT
EQUATE THE "BOURGEOIS DEMOCRATIC "TENDENCY IN COLONIAL TYPE COUNTRIES WITH
On the contrary Lenin had asserted that there were two
types of "bourgeois democratic tendency in colonial type countries: a "national-reformist"
tendency and a "national-revolutionary" tendency:
"It was argued that if we speak about the bourgeois democratic
movement all distinction between reformist and revolutionary movements
will be obliterated; whereas in recent times this distinction has been
fully and clearly revealed in the backward and colonial countries, for
the imperialist bourgeoisie is trying with all its might to implant the
reformist movement also among the oppressed countries.. We Communists should,
and will support the bourgeois democratic movements in the colonial countries
only when these movements are really revolutionary."
STALIN HAD ALSO SHARPLY DISTINGUISHED BETWEEN THE "COMPROMISING
WING OF THE BOURGEOISIE OF A COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRY (IE THE COMPRADOR) AND
THE "REVOLUTIONARY WING (IE THE NATIONAL BOURGEOISIE):
Lenin, Vol 10, Ibid, p.241.
"In countries like Egypt and China.. the national (ie
native-ed) bourgeoisie has already split up into a revolutionary party
and a compromising party.. In countries like India the.. national (ie native-ed)
bourgeoisie has split up into a revolutionary and a compromising party."
The 6th Congress Theses
on the other hand, present the political trend representing the interests
of the pro-imperialist forces which seeks to hold back the national-revolutionary
movement of the masses by drawing them into a program of "peaceful constitutional
reform" as a political trend representing the interests of all the national
J.V.Stalin: "The Political Tasks of the University of
the Peoples of the East", in Works, Volume 7; Moscow; 1954, p.149, 150.
"The interests of the struggle for the class rule of
the national bourgeoisie compel the most important bourgeois parties..
still to demonstrate their opposition to the ruling imperialist-feudal
bloc.. this opposition has not a revolutionary but reformist and class
The political conclusion is that the national bourgeoisie
is fundamentally a counter-revolutionary force in relation to the national-democratic
Theses on the Revolutionary Movement in the Colonies
and Semi-Colonies, 6th Congress Ibid p.1667.
"Its chief feature (ie of the "bourgeois-reformist opposition"
of the national bourgeoisie-ed) is that it exerts a braking retarding influence
on the development of the national revolutionary movement."
The bourgeoisie of a colonial type country was then seen
as being essentially as one single block characterised by "ambiguity":
"The position of the colonial bourgeoisie is in the bourgeois-democratic
revolution is .. for the most part an ambiguous one and it's vacillations
in accordance with the course of the revolution are even more considerable
than in the bourgeoisie of an independent country."
If this is so, could one work with these bourgeoisie ?
Apparently not, according to the CI:
"It is necessary to reject the formation of any kind
of bloc between the Communist Party and the national-reformist opposition
(in a colonial-type country-Ed)."
In attempting to cover partly their tracks, to mask the contradictions
of these Theses, with Lenin and Stalin; in verbal presentation Kuusinen
substituted the word "improbable" for "impossible" :
Theses, Ibid, p.50.
"Will the national bourgeoisie of one or another colony,
for instance, a part of the Indian bourgeoisie join up, even if only temporarily
with the national revolutionary camp ? In all probability, not."
The British delegation objected to this loophole (especially
as regards to India) and demanded that the Theses should declare it to
be "impossible" for the national bourgeoisie of a colonial type country
to play a revolutionary role in the national-democratic revolution.
O.Kuusinen, Concluding Remarks: In International Press
Correspondence" Vol 8; no 81, November 21st, 1928.
"It is now impossible for the Indian bourgeoisie to enter
the national-revolutionary camp."
Kuusinen refused to erase this loophole for the moment,
and the British delegation refused to vote for the acceptance of the Theses.
C.Dutt: Speech at 6th Congress In "International Press
Correspondence", Vol. 8, No.76, October 30th; 1928;
"Everyone who speaks about any shadow of a possibility
of the national bourgeoisie playing any positive active part in the national
revolution is spreading illusions."
D.Petrovsky ("A.J.Bennett") Speech at 6th Congress: "International
Press Correspondence"Vol 8; No.72; October 17th,1928 p.1321
But in effect, Kuusinen had already reversed the
decisions of the 2nd Congress.
The "Indian delegates" to the 6th Congress were Shaukhat
Usmani (Sikander Sur), Ghulam Luhani (Spencer), Mohammed Shafiq (Raza),
Clemens Dutt, Mohammed Sipassi (Mahmud), Saumyendranath Tagore (Narayan),
Habil Ahmed Naseem and Masood Ali Shah.
None of them however were accredited by the Communist
Party of India. They were in full agreement with the line of the 6th Congress,
and with Kuusinen.
It was in his Report that Kuusinen now moved to
attack the Workers and Peasants Parties of India, that had been so successful:
"For a time some comrades considered the advisability
of 'labour and peasant parties'.. It is now clearer than before that this
form is not to be recommended, especially in colonial and semi-colonial
countries. It would be an easy matter for the labour and peasant parties
to transform themselves into petty bourgeois parties, to get away from
the Communists, thereby failing to help them to come into contact with
OF COURSE, THE "SOME COMRADES" INCLUDED STALIN WHO FAVOURED
THE FORMATION OF SUCH PARTIES IN THE COLONIAL TYPE COUNTRIES :
O.Kuusinen, Report on the Revolutionary Movement in The
Colonies and Semi-Colonies, 6th Congress, CI In : "International
Press Correspondence", Volume 8, No. 70; October 4th, 1928, 1230-1.
"In countries like Egypt and China.. a revolutionary
bloc of the workers and peasants and the petty bourgeoisie.. can assume
the form of a single party, a workers and peasants party, provided however,
that this distinctive party actually represents a bloc of two forces -
the Communist Party and the party of the revolutionary petty bourgeoisie..
In countries like India.. a revolutionary anti-imperialist bloc.. can assume,
although it need not always necessarily do so, the form of a single workers'
and peasants' party, formally bound by a single platform".
But the attack on the Workers and Peasants Parties (WPP)
was entirely in line with the documents written by Trotsky in June
1928, and submitted to the congress:
Stalin, "The Political Tasks of the University of the
Peoples' of the East",Vol 7; Moscow, 1954; p.149, 150-1.
"The cardinal question for us here as everywhere and
always, is the question of the communist party, its complete independence,
its irreconcilable class character. The greatest danger on this path is
the organisation of so-called "Workers and Peasants Parties" in the countries
of the Orient..
Even the "Indian delegation" and the British delegation were
opposed to the Congress Resolution which stated:
Stalin advanced the formula of the "two-class Workers'
and Peasants' Parties" for the Eastern countries.. it is a question here
of an absolutely new, entirely false and thoroughly anti-marxist formulation
of the fundamental question of the party and of its relation to its own
class and other classes.. Without a relentless condemnation of the very
ida of workers and peasants parties for the East, there is not and cannot
be a programme for the Comintern."
L.Trotsky : "Summary and Perspectives of the Chinese
Revolution",In the "Third International after Lenin", London; 1974; p.162-3,
"Special WPP's, whatever revolutionary character they
may possess - can too easily at particular periods, be converted into ordinary
petty bourgeois parties, and accordingly, Communists are not recommended
to organise such parties. The Communist Party can never build its organisation
on the basis of a fusion of two classes, and in the same way also it cannot
make its task to organise other parties on this basis, which is the characteristic
of petty bourgeois groups.. the fighting bloc of the masses of the workers
and peasants can find expression in carefully prepared and periodically
convened joint conferences and congresses of representatives of revolutionary
peasant unions (or their committees) and of trade unions; in certain circumstances
it may be found expedient to create revolutionary committees of action,
coordinating the activity of the organisations of the workers and peasants,
conducting mass activities, etc."
Very soon, however all opposition to the 6th Congress
Theses was effectively crushed:
Theses On the Revolutionary Movement in the Colonies
and Semi-colonies, 6th Congress CI, "International Press Correspondence."
Vol 8, No.88,December 12th,1928; p.1671.
"By the 10th Plenum, 1929.. all opposition to the Leftist
line of the 6th Congress was submerged and the Comintern plunged forward
on its ultra-leftist course.. Kussinen was the spokesman for India.. In
his report he said:
At this 10th Plenum of the ECCI, held in Moscow from July
3rd to 19th 1929, Roy was formally expelled from the CI.
'Our greatest weakness there is the fact that we have
not established ourselves as a Communist Party, A good many Indian Communists
have worked in the ranks of the "Workers And Peasants Party"(WPP).
We have advised them to endeavour to induce these Parties to reorganise
themselves, to assume another form, in keeping with the principles of Leninism."
Overstreet and Windmiller. Ibid, p.139
Otto Kuusinen cited amongst other things, Roy's objection
to the new CI line; which was currently against the formation of an alliance
within the INC between the CPI and the Independence League. Salomon
Lozovsky and Pavel Shubin attacked Roy's "Menshevik sabotage" of the
CPI, and again attacked the loophole left over from the 6th Congress (ie
that it was very improbable - but not impossible - that the national bourgeoisie
might play a revolutionary role):
"In the whole sphere of foreign and home policy, the
national Indian bourgeoisie is turning against the working class and the
revolutionary labour movement. The recent strikes have sharpened this process,
and everyone present here is confronted with the question:
In his Main report to the Plenum, Otto Kuusinen renewed
the attack on the WPP in India, implying that their development had held
back the development of the CPI and alleging that they had carried out
"hardly any work" among the peasantry:
if differentiation is proceeding so rapidly that the
ideologists of the Indian bourgeoisie are already assuming the language
of the Kuomintang.. then is the line laid down by the 6th Congress of the
CI concerning the Indian bourgeoisie correct?..
A year ago at the 6th Congress of the CI.. a decision
was made then that in certain cases in regard to definite concrete tactical
questions agreement with the bourgeoisie was admissible.. It seems to me
that this general line, while it is no doubt correct in principle, is inapplicable
now in India. It is inapplicable because the Indian bourgeoisie has openly
gone into the counter-revolutionary camp, because it is throttling the
labour movement, is making common cause with British imperialism, is openly
declaring war on the revolutionary movements.. we must consider there not
the possibility of agreement, but must consider rather the adoption of
an uncompromising attitude- NO agreement whatever, ruthless struggle against
the Indian bourgeoisie." S.Lozovsky: Speech at 10th
Plenum ECCI, in "International Press Correspondence", Volume 9, no.48;
September 11th; 1928; p.1037.
"Our greatest weakness there (ie India) is the
act that we are not yet firmly enough established as a Communist Party.
A good many Indian Communists have worked in the ranks of the WPP. We have
advised that them to endeavour to induce these parties to reorganise themselves,
to assume another organisational form in keeping with the principles of
Leninism. But not the two-class character of these parties was the worst
thing; much worse was the fact that hardly any practical revolutionary
work has been done yet among the peasantry."
Working in a Marxist-Leninist party was posed in a false
and total contradiction to working in both such a party and a WPP. In other
words, this meant abandoning broad front principles of work, in order to
become purely and narrowly "Communist". P.Schubin lamented that the:
Kuusinen: Report on the International Situation and the
Tasks of the CI, 10th Plenum ECCI, In "International press Correspondence"
Vol 9, No.40, Aug20th, 1929; p.847.
"Liquidation" of the WPP was taking place more slowly
than it should."
But there had been difficulties in going faster for the revisionists.
The WPP were extremely successful at the height of
the strike waves in India in 1928, and were seen to be powerful.
Moreover, the attempts to destroy the Marxist-Leninist
line necessitated camouflage, and there was a welter of charges and counter-charges.
The confusing state of the Congress was summed up:
"This traffic in poorly defined scare words did not serve
to make the 6th Congress a monument to honest political debate, and one
can understand how some of the participants got lost in the dialectical
fog. One Russian, Lominadze, was candid enough to say:
The principal Thesis of the 10th Plenum "On the International
Situation and the Tasks of the Communist International", now proceeded
to reiterate a frankly Trotskyite line. It called for "Soviets Now"
in India, just as Trotsky had called for In China:
'I must say that I read a certain statement four times
without understanding it, and yet these are written for people who know
much less than we delegates."
O&W, Cited p. 118.
"The undisguised betrayal of the cause of the national
independence by the Indian bourgeoisie .. and their active support of the
bloody suppression of the workers on strike, expose the counter-revolutionary
character of the Indian bourgeoisie.. the tasks of the Indian revolution
can only be solved through struggle for the revolutionary democratic dictatorship
of the proletariat and peasantry under the banner of Soviets."
This Leftist line was quickly transformed into public statements:
Theses on The International Situation and The Tasks of
the CI, 10th Plenum ECCI, in J.,Degras (ed):"The Communist Interactional
: 1919-1943: Documents", Volume 3; London; 1965; p.45.
"The Open Letter from the Young Communist International
to Indian youth declared:
Obviously this line is totally and stupidly anti-Leninist,
and sectarian, and could not win the uncommitted. But:
'The National Congress actually retards the revolutionary
movement, it has long ago betrayed the masses of the Indian people.. Sever
your contact with the National Congress and the League of Independence."
YCI : Open Letter to All young Workers and peasants of
India In "International Press Correspondence" Vol
10, no.2, January 9th; 1930; p.25.
"For nearly 3 years (until May 1932) Comintern policy
for India undeviatingly pursued the Ultra-leftist strategy mapped at the
10th Plenum.. with articles by Karl Radek .. The main characteristics of
the Comintern literature of this period are:
The Ultra-Left turn accomplished a devastating toll on the
CPI and its mass links, the WPP.
(1) Violent opposition to Gandhi, Nehru, Bose and the
Congress Party as bourgeois and counter-revolutionary;
(2) Insistence that Gandhi and the Congress had been
repudiated in the eyes of the masses and
(3) repeated injunctions to form a strong illegal CP..
The Comintern (Ed -the authors here write Stalin) had
taken over Trotsky's arguments on the role of the bourgeoisie in colonial
areas and his new analysis of the events in China provided the matrix for
policy in India. Little allowance was made for the radically different
political, social and cultural conditions."
O&W, Ibid, p. 144-5.
As long ago as the period of the 3rd Congress of the CI,
Trotsky had maintained that:
"Imperialism was industrialising the colonial-type countries
especially India and China".
Trotsky had linked this view with his overall denial
of any differentiated bourgeoisie in colonial type countries. This buttressed
his denial of any positive revolutionary role for the bourgeoisie in colonial
type countries. Logically, by this he was led to advocate a one-stage working
class revolutionary process in colonial type countries.
By a re-birth, this process of imperialist industrialisation
of the developing country was later called Decolonisation, by the revisionists.
Actually, the final weapon by which M.N.Roy was ultimately destroyed by
the revisionists in the Comintern, was the analysis of decolonisation.
The revisionist attack was formally launched at the 6th Congress of the
CI. During this congress, the CI leaders vigorously pursued "decolonisation".
"The Russians (Read Kussinen-Ed) were clearly bent on
making decolonisation an odious word. To do this they ascribed
to it a meaning which Roy certainly never intended, namely the voluntary
cessation of imperialist exploitation."
That the attack was clearly a "set up" job, or premeditated,
is shown by the fact that Roy had been asked to prepare a report on the
phenomenon of Decolonisation. This was a word that had not been until then
part of the currency of language in the CI:
Overstreet and Windmiller P. 118
"In the summer of 1927, while Roy was still in China,
the political secretariat of the ECCI after hearing a report from Savmyendranath
Tagore, had set up on the proposal of Nickolai Bukharin, a special commission
to examine the economic and political situation in India, including the
process of "Decolonisation".
M.N.Roy was charged by the CI on his return from China to
prepare a draft resolution on the matter. He later realised that it was
to serve as a means of discrediting him:
As Ghulam Luhani told the 6th Congress of the
CI the following year:
'The term "Decolonisation" was included in what I may
call the references of the Commission. So far as I am aware, it was the
first occasion of the use of the term "decolonisation" in regard to India."
G.Luhani, cited by Communist League, M.N.Roy Report Part
2. p.32. Speech to 6th Congress CI in Inprecor. Vol 8, no.78, No.8, 1928.
"On my return (from China-ed) I was charged to draft
a resolution on the preparatory work accomplished by the Commission. The
resolution drafted by me, which was formally accepted (not because there
was any serious objection to it, but because of waning interests in the
subject) subsequently became the main weapon against me. It was in that
document that all my heresies were discovered."
Actually Roy was very acute and prescient in his diagnosis
of the British path:
Roy Report Part 2. p. 33. Cited from M.N.Roy and B.Varnik:
"Our Differences". Calcutta, 1938; p. 31.
"The resolution (of September 17th-drafted by Roy-Ed.)
developed the political line which Roy had been putting forward for many
years and, despite its continuing confusion of the emerging national bourgeoisie
of India with the counter-revolutionary comprador bourgeois, forecast with
remarkable accuracy the transition of India from a colony to a neo-colonial
The political deviations which flowed from the analysis of
the CI in the 6th Congress were traitorous and represented a revision of
Lenin and Stalin's themes. But "Decolonisation" - meaning an industrialisation
of India - was already taking place. It is significant that the CPGB, then
being parachuted into the leadership of the CPI; itself was divided. Eugene
Varga, the CI economist had already announced in Inprecor:
"The new imperialist policy implies a gradual 'decolonisation'
of Indian which must be allowed to take its course so that India might
develop from a 'dependency' into a 'dominion'. The Indian bourgeoisie instead
of being kept down as a powerful rival, will be conceded participation
in the economic development under the hegemony of imperialism. From a backward
agrarian colonial possession India will become a modern industrial country-
a member of the British Commonwealth of free nations'. India is in a state
Communist League : M.N.Roy Report, Vol 2. Cited p.32-3.
Quoting M.N.Roy: Resolution of 'Decolonisation' Commission Political Secretariat,
ECCI, cited by O.Kussinen Report on the Revolutionary Movement in the Colonies
6th Congress CI in Inprecor. Vol 8. no. 68, Oct 4th, 1928. p.1226.
"So far, industrialisation has changed nothing in the
fundamental character of India's as a pronouncedly agrarian country.. The
British bourgeoisie is by no means pursuing a consistent policy in support
BECAUSE THE DEBATE TOOK PLACE IN THE CI WITH A SECRET
AGENDA BY WHICH TO REMOVE STALIN AND ROY FROM ANY EFFECTIVE DEALINGS WITH
THE CI; THE DEBATE WAS QUITE CONFUSED :
Cited M.N.Roy Report, Part 2. p. 40 From "Economics and
Economic policy in the fourth quarter of 1927"; Inprecor. Vol 8. No. 15.
March 14th, 1928. p 292-3.
"This traffic in poorly defined scare words did not serve
to make the 6th Congress a monument to honest political debate, and one
can understand how some of the participants got lost in the dialectical
fog. One Russian, Lominadze, was candid enough to say :
The CPGB argued that the British were in fact industrialising;
but that this was had nothing to do with any thing called "Decolonisation":
'I must say that I read a certain statement four times
without understanding it, and yet these are written for people who know
much less than we delegates."
Overstreet & Windmiller, Ibid p.118
"The British delegation have been assailed as villains
of the deepest dye, as 'revisionists', 'non-Marxist',and so on and so on,
and there has been ascribed to them in particular that they are in favour
of this bogey 'decolonisation'.. now with regard to 'decolonisation' the
British delegation are not partisans to it."
Petrovsky (The CI representative in Britain and thus part
of the CPGB delegation) dissented from this defence:
R.P.Arnot. Speech at 6th congress cited: Communist League
: in M.N.Roy Report, Ibid. Vol 2. p.44.
"Those who use the word (ie. decolonisation-Ed) rightly
or wrongly, did so with the sole object of emphasising the industrialisation
of India.. I am prepared also to become a target for any possible attacks..
I prefer to speak about 'Decolonisation.'"
This demonstration of an 'independence', on the part of
the CPGB leaders, was unacceptable to the revisionist CI.
M.Petrovsky. Speech to 6th Congress CI. Cited in M.N.Roy
Report, Vol 2, Ibid. p. 44-5.
The leaders of the CPGB not having proven themselves
sufficiently revisionist for the revisionist CI, were therefore replaced
at the 10th Plenum of the CI in 1929.
The new CPGB leadership was sponsored by the revisionist
CI, and included the crypto-revisionist Harry Pollitt (who later
inaugurated the policy of the so called "Parliamentary Road to Socialism").
Although R.P.Dutt's membership was retained, only 12 of the old CC
of the CPGB were re-elected, and 23 new members were added.
To return to "Decolonisation", if the following equation
is true, ie. :
Then it would appear that M.N.Roy was right; and that
Varga and the CI was wrong. Industrialisation was indeed progressing.
"DECOLONISATION" = INDUSTRIALISATION ;
The relative weight of the proletariat was still weak,
which is why Stalin's policy of the WPP had been the correct one. But there
was in fact, an industrialisation. Whether the term "Decolonisation" was
appropriate is another issue. Clearly, British imperialism had no intention
of leaving the Indian stage if she could help it. The process of industrialisation
has been outlined above in the Political Economy section.
We must agree with the delegate who complained that things
were not clear. Decolonisation was a masquerade debate with a hidden agenda
to throw out Roy, and finally destroy his influence in the CPI of India,
in order to place a subservient CPGB in the saddle of the CPI.
The CPGB certainly knew that Britain had recently reversed
its' Tariff Policy in India - allowing an industrialisation to proceed
OVER the objections of British Industrialists (see part one). Unless the
CPGB had the resolved intent to challenge revisionism in the ECCI, they
would not clearly state the facts. The Opportunists of the CPGB made their
choice. Indeed of the CPGB delegation, only Petrovsky was honest enough
to not indulge in the half way house of accepting industrialisation as
fact, yet attacking the shibboleth around the word decolonisation.
It has been noted that the British bourgeois political
economists have noted the trends towards an increased industrialisation
in India and the manner in which Britain was "disengaging" under the pressures
So much so that current bourgeois commentators like Tomlinson
have themselves taken up the term Decolonisation. Indeed one of the sources
used in the text here is entitled: "The Political
economy of the Raj. The Economics of Decolonisation In India." B.R.Tomlinson.
1. Her own real weakened position;
2. Attacks from the WPP and the INC.;
'3. Attacks from other imperialism;
The modern day political economists have access to secret
despatches. These have shed some light on the thought processes of the
imperialists. For instance; Lord Hardinge, Vice-Roy of India. Despatch
to the Secretary of State for India, November 1915:
"It is becoming increasingly clear that a definite and
self conscious policy of improving the industrial capabilities of India
will have to be pursued after the war unless she is to become the dumping
ground for the manufacture of foreign nations who will be competing the
more vigorously for markets, the more it becomes apparent that the political
future of the large nations depends on their economic position.. after
the war, India will consider herself entitled to demand the utmost help
which her Government can afford, to enable her to take her place so far
as circumstances permit, as a manufacturing country."
IT IS CLEAR THEN THAT THOUGH VARGA MAY HAVE DISAGREED,
THERE WERE SIGNS THAT THE BRITISH WERE AT LEAST DISCUSSING THESE NOTIONS.
THE ABOVE DESPATCH WOULD NOT OF COURSE, HAVE BEEN SEEN IN THE PUBLIC LITERATURE
DOMAIN, AND ON THIS THE CI AND VARGA MAY BE EXCUSED.
Desai A.R. Social background of Indian Nationalism. p.98
in Kidron,M. Ibid p.13,
BUT, Varga and the CPGB must
have known of the formation of the Industrial Commission chaired by Sir
Thomas Holland of the Munitions Board in 1916, in India, whose report
"It's report of 1918 which is noteworthy for its clear
exposition of a detailed and subtle plan for Indian industrial development,
advocated that central government play a major role in industrialisation
by the investment of social overhead capital, the promotion of technical
education and research, the provision of industrial banks and the supply
of direct financial and entrepreneurial assistance to private industry
Finally, Varga also should-must-would have known that the
British were beginning to re-negotiate Tariffs and the Indian traders and
industrialists were partaking in discussions at the Ottawa Summit of
August 1932. This was signed between India and Britain and a separate
set of agreements were made between India and the Dominions.
Tomlinson, Ibid. p.58-59.
These type of Agreements (see above section in Political
Economy of the post war years) stated above, were impelled by several factors.
Firstly the need for British imperialism to ensure that in case of war
the Indian state could produce goods; the need to prevent penetration of
foreign capital and goods- especially in the cotton industry Japan. And
finally, the continued pressure from Indian industrialists.
THE TWO FLANK ATTACK ON THE CPI:
ON THE RIGHT FLANK BRITISH IMPERIALISM, ON THE LEFT
FLANK THE REVISIONIST COMINTERN
The generally correct tactics of Roy (following Stalin's
guidelines) had left a very definite legacy promoting joint activity with
progressive elements wherever possible. This is shown by the repetitive
need of British imperialism to rupture by provocation Roy's ties with the
more militant Congress elements. Furthermore, the WPP disparaged by Kuusinen
as valueless were in actual fact, arming the workers and peasants daily.
During the years 1927-8, a great strike wave had begun in India which
showed the power of the developing movement.
In November 1927, the British Government announced that
an All British commission would be set up to visit India and make recommendations
for a new Constitution for the colony. In December 1927 the WPP issued
a manifesto calling on the Madras session of the INC to boycott the Simon
Commission (headed by Sir John Simon) and to mobilise the Indian
people for full independence. As discussed above, the progressive wing
of the INC led by Jawarharlal Nehru called for similar demands. The pressure
of the WPP undoubtedly helped and the CPI official History agrees :
"The Congress session under left-wing pressure not only
adopted the complete independence resolution, but also a directive to its
branches to organise mass demonstrations all over the country to demonstrate
the nation's will to boycott the Simon Commission."
1928 opened with mass demonstrations throughout India against
the Simon Commission. In April began the six month long strike in Bombay
led by Communist leaders of the WPP (Bombay). In May during the strike,
the famous Girni Kamgar (Mill Workers) Union (GKU) came into being
with a membership of 80,000. In Calcutta also large scale strikes of jute
and railway workers took place, led by the WPP (Bengal), and here too militant
trade unions came into being:
Central Party Education Dept. CPI; "Guidelines of the
History of the CPI", Ibid, p.19.
"The workers came to recognise the red flag as
the symbol of their class solidarity.. they also came to recognise the
red flag as their symbol of their solidarity with the working class of
the world, which was fighting for similar aims, and with the first socialist
state-the Soviet Union.. A new red flag working class movement had emerged..
The peak that the strike upsurge reached can be seen from the following
official strike figures:
No. Of Man-Days Lost(Million)
A British Intelligence report confirmed this picture:
This strike upsurge was and the mass activities
were, led by the WPP which the Communists had set up."
Central Party Education Dept; CPI:"Guidelines of the
History of The Communist Party of India," Delhi,1974; p.19.
"By the end of 1928.. there was hardly a single public
utility service or industry which had not been affected, in whole or in
part by the wave of Communism which swept the country during the year."
Government of India; Home Dept:"India and Communism", Simla,
When the British proposed at the Simla Legislative Assembly
in 1928 the Public Safety Bill, it was obviously targeted at the
Communists. But it was vigorously opposed by the nationalists.
Motilal Nehru opposed it on both legal grounds
and also he saw that it would be used against the nationalists. His son,
Jawaharlal Nehru argued to the press on February 4th, 1929, that
the Government was very mistaken if they if it imagined that this legislation:
"Can make their hold secure over India and stop the flow
The bill being defeated, by a vote of 60-61, it was re-introduced
tied to a clause to cut money from abroad for organisations. Again both
Motilal and the younger Jawaharlal argued against it as being ultimately
a weapon against the nationalists:
From Nehru, Selected Works, Vol 3, p.317. Cited Bairathi,
Ibid. p. 113.
"Jawarharlal called the Bill 'The slavery of India Bill
or the safety of Bureaucracy Bill'.
By April 29th, 1929, H.G.Haig Secretary to Government
of India wrote to Langsford James, Barrister-at-law that:
The elder Nehru .. said 'What harm is there in allowing
Communistic ides to come into India? ..I have met many of the Communists..
I do not hesitate to cooperate with them.. We are all peaceful revolutionaries..
We want a bloodless revolution,,"
Cited, Bairathi, Ibid, p.114.
"From political point of view it would be expedient to
convince the public that Communism is not the kind of movement which should
receive the sympathy of the nationalists. The opposition to the Public
Safety Bill has created an artificial and false atmosphere which must be
set right as soon as possible."
The British, if not the Ultra-Left CPI were well aware
of the dangers in a United Front of the Nationalists and
the Communists. As H.G.Haig wrote to one J.C.Crerar:
Home Pol; 1929; F. No. 10IV/29, Cited
by Bairathi, Ibid. p.114.
"Communism contains grave dangers to the very classes
who support the extreme nationalist movement and our aim should be to do
nothing which will produce an artificial union between the two movements
which if left to themselves may tend to diverge. We should be very cautious
in taking action against Communism which may arouse for the Communists
any general sympathies among the nationalists or provide the nationalists
what they are searching for at the moment, namely a good rallying cry for
an intensive anti-government agitation."
To effect an education of the nationalists, the Government
had released a letter, dated December 30th, 1927 from M.N.Roy to the CC
of the CPI and the WPP. This letter intercepted by the police, was read
into the record of the Legislative Assembly on September 10th 1928, and
became known as the "Assembly Letter".
Home Pol; F.No..18/Xv/1928, p.17; Cited, Bairathi, Ibid,
In this letter Roy emphasised the importance of members
of the CPI working in and playing a leading role in the "Workers and
Peasants Parties" (WPP).
In the letter, Roy further advised that the CPI should
affiliate with the CI, and the WPP to the League Against Imperialism (established
at the Congress of Oppressed Nationalities in Brussels from February 10th
to 15th 1927, where Jawaharlal Nehru had played a role). His letter also
warned against the direction of the CPGB, in particular of their envoys
Philip Spratt, and Benjamin Bradley:
"The centers in Berlin and Paris are the agencies of
the CI to look after Indian affairs. The CPI will have its relations with
the CI though these centers and not through London. Any British comrade
that may come to India comes to work there under the supervision of the
CC of the CPI. He has no superior right."
In addition the letter purported to paint Jawaharlal Nehru
as an agent of the Communists:
M.N.Roy Assembly Letter, Cited by Overstreet and Windmiller,
"It Characterised Jawaharlal Nehru as 'liaison agent
between Moscow and India.' It was used by the Government to crate differences
between the Communists ad the nationalists.. In a communication to the
editor of Forward, Roy denied having written such a letter.. Nehru also
expressed his doubt about the genuineness of the letter."
We may surmise that Roy was doing something right that British
intelligence kept trying to derail him.
Bairathi, Ibid, p.114-5.
Meanwhile, as Imperialism's dancing partner, the CI
antics were directly parallel to those of British imperialism.
Thus the Sixth Congress
as we have saw, had now adopted an anti-WPP line.
The first Workers and Peasants Party was formed in
Bengal on 1st November 1925:
"Originally its name was the Labour Swaraj party
of the INC.. The INC was its platform and the Party was to exist within
the Congress as its labour section. The founding members were Qutubuddin
Ahmad, Hemant Kumar Sarkar, Qazi Nazrul Islam and Shamsuddin Hussain..
The WPP in Bombay was also formed as a Congress Labour Group in 1925. Later
on it became the Congress Labour Party. Finally its name was also changed
to the Workers and Peasant Party.. with S.S.Mirajkar as secretary.. It
announced that the INC and its leaders represented the interests of the
propertied classes and that its aim was to liberate the Congress from the
stranglehold of the class interests of its leadership.. Gradually WPP were
formed in other parts of india as well. In April 1928, A WPP was formed
in the Punjab under the name of the Kirti-Kisan Party.. The aim of WPP's
was to achieve complete independence by widening the base of the anti-imperialist
struggle. Their policy was to make the maximum use of the Congress machinery
by making it a mass organisation."
Roy had advocated for a long time illegal and legal parallel
organisations. Stalin had before him, advocated massive wide broad mass
Worker and Peasant parties that
were not Communist. These were the manifestations of this line. In the
"Masses of India", of November 1926, and Inprecor (International Press
Correspondence) of December 1926:
Bairathi, Ibid, p. 95-96.
"On the eve of his departure for China, Roy had commended
the example of the Kuomintang to the Left Wing of the Indian National Movement.
In his article entitled "From Gaya to Gauhati," Roy observed:
So successful had the policy been that even the anti-Roy
members of the CPGB "controllers of the CPI", like Philip Spratt as yet
continued to extend the WPP's over India - thereby opposing the CI ruling.
'The Kuomintang has been successful in uniting all revolutionary
nationalists in the struggle against foreign imperialism. The same thing
can be done by the Indian nationalist movement.'
He advocated the formation of "united fighting front" of
the petty-bourgeois radical elements inside the nationalist movement with
the proletariat and peasantry to 'overthrow the compromising bourgeois
It was abundantly clear that in the conditions of colonial
India the development of such broad, legal mass workers and peasants parties
(WPP) under the Communist leadership, as advocated by Stalin, had been
successful in enabling a tiny handful of Communists to independence and
lead masses of workers and peasants along paths of militant struggle:
"To sum up, the workers and peasants' parties in four
provinces (Maharashtra, Punjab, Bengal, United Provinces- Ed) succeeded
in effecting a break-through and in unleashing mass activities, in building
militant red-flag activities, in holding peasant demonstrations and conferences
under the red-flag. They formed a left wing inside the All India Trades
Union Congress (AITUC) and also a nucleus in the INC".
In 1928, February-March it was decided to have an All-India
conference of the WPP, in order to unite the four provincial parties into
one. It met December 21st-24th 1928, in Calcutta, presided over by Sohan
Singh Josh of the Kirti-Kisan Party of Punjab, and declared
that the WPP:
CPI: "Guideline History", Ibid, p.22.
"Was the only organisation which can unite and lead all
the mass revolutionary forces of the country."
But, by now even this type of conference was actually
contrary to the stand of the CI which had called for the dissolution of
the WPP. As the Colonial Theses had said :
Bairathi, Ibid, p.98
"Special Worker and peasants parties, no matter how revolutionary
they may be, can be all too easily transformed into ordinary petty-bourgeois
parties. Therefore organisation of such parties is inadvisable."
As the CPI official history puts it:
In Degras, Vol 2. 1923-28,pp.526-48.
"The criticism of the WPP at the 6th Congress of the
CI was known, but no decision was taken to discontinue the WPP as an open
forum for the CPI."
THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE CI HAD SENT A MESSAGE TO
THE CPI THAT THE WPP WAS NO LONGER A SECTION OF THE CI, ORDERING THE CPI
TO DISSOCIATE THE WPP FROM THE INDEPENDENCE FOR INDIA LEAGUE ORGANISED
BY JAWAHARLAL NEHRU AND THE OTHER CONGRESS LEFT-WING LEADERS.
CPI, "Guidelines for History of CPI", Ibid, p.26.
THE LETTER ARRIVED ON THE THIRD DAY OF THE CONFERENCE.
"The victorious progress of this struggle (against
imperialist oppression and feudal repression-ed) demands in our view, above
all the creation of an independent class party of the proletariat ,and
the formation of a real revolutionary bloc of workers and peasants under
the leadership of the proletariat not in the form of a united WPP, but
on the basis of cooperation between the mass organisation of the proletariat
on the one hand and the peasant leagues and committees on the other.. The
organisation of the WPP .. does not imply by any means the fusion of the
WPP into ONE party.. The Indian proletariat will be the champion of the
national revolutionary fight and lead to victory.. All the toilers, if
it organises and consolidates its vanguard. the Communsit Party, which
will educate the working masses in the spirit of a clear-cut and unmistakable
class policy.. Concerning organisational forms, your Conference will have
to discuss the question of separating the workers organisation from the
The letter went even beyond the 6th
Congress Colonial Theses in characterising the entire Indian
bourgeoisie as "counter-revolutionary".
ECCI: Letter to All-India Conference of Workers and Peasants'
Parties, December 2nd. In J.Degras (Ed). "The Communist International:1919-1943:Documents",
Volume 2; London; 1971; p.559, 562, 563.
"Each day brings and will bring fresh proof of
the treachery of the bourgeoisie, of it cringing before imperialism, of
its intention to bargain and to come to terms with the latter behind the
backs of the toilers of India and at their expense."
Moreover The ECCI declared the "Greatest danger" to the
revolutionary movement to be the "bourgeois nationalists" especially the
"petty bourgeois intellectuals" organised in the Independence League:
Letter ECCI, Ibid, p.560.
"The greatest danger to the organisation of the masses
to the creation of a revolutionary bloc of the proletariat and the peasantry
and to the proletarian leadership of this bloc, consists not only in bourgeois
nationalism as such, but comes form the organisations and groups of "prominent"
petty bourgeois intellectuals actually influenced by the former, the "Independence
League".. The "Independence League ".. assists official Swarajism in its
nefarious play with the slogans of 'independence' and 'dominion status'..
Your Conference .. cannot fail to dissociate itself from the confusion
and twaddle which characterises the advertised League platform with its
lavish promises," ECCI Letter Ibid, p.560-1.
This Left Deviationism in relation to the colonial-type
countries had its counterpart in relation to Germany in the ECCI's assertion
the social-democracy, and not fascism constituted the "main enemy" of the
German working class in these years. This analysis has been published separately
by the CL (See Subject Index web-site).
The WPP Conference adopted a Resolution that took a mid
point on this, heeding the ECCI to some extent:
"WPP members cannot enter the Independence League
as members.. The WPP can only work with the Independence League in a united
Front on the basis of its propaganda for independence, which .. has objectively
But the Conference resolved that members of the WPP should
continue to work with the INC, but as a concession to the ECCI, it declared
that this would only be "temporary", and that they would not accept office
in the INC without special permission of the ECCI (Labour Monthly Vol.
11, March 1929, p.160). Further instructions came through Dr.G.M.Adhikari
from the ECCI to dissolve the WPP, which were ignored until the Meerut
case effectively completed the destruction of the WPP by incarcerating
Resolution of the All-India Conference of WPP, Cited
by P.Shubin:"The Conference of the WPP in India", In "International Press
Correspondence", Vol 9, No.16, April 5th, 1929; p.348.
The leadership of the CPGB, as yet not purged
further by the ECCI (At the 10th Plenum as discussed above), supported
the defiance of the ECCI. The CPI and the CPGB refused to liquidate the
WPP (Labour Monthly Vol 11, No.3, March 1929; p.159). Robin Page Arnot
in a pamphlet published later in the same year explicitly declared:
"This (the WPP-ed) is a two-class party.. As a
form of organisation it was expressly condemned in the Colonial Theses
of the Sixth Congress of the CI as one which Communists should not attempt
to build. But this Worker and Peasants Congress, the speeches at it, and
its decisions, its resolutions, all give an unmistakable feeling of a real
conscious mass movement for the first time in India, a real proletarian
As discussed above, the ECCI would purge those such as Robin
Page Arnot for their temerity in defying the CI's analysis. But more importantly,
this betrayal of the WPP by the CI, at just a time when the mass struggle
was taking off, and the vicious polemics against the Congress - all safely
destroyed any chances for an effective broad anti-imperialist front. One
where the Communists could have led the class coalition.
R.P.Arnot: "How Britain Rules India", London; 1929; p.30.
THE FINAL BLOW TO THE WPP WAS DEALT BY THE BRITISH,
WITH THE LAUNCHING OF THE MEERUT CONSPIRACY CASE, ON 20 MARCH 1929.
This lasted three and 1/2 years, and crippled the Communist
movement, by depriving it of virtually its entire leadership of 31 at a
time of uprising. As Rajani Palme Dutt commented:
"The arrested included the Vice-President, a former president
and two Assistant Secretaries of the TUC, the Secretaries of the Bombay
and of the Bengal Provincial Trade Union Federations; all the officials
of the Girni Kamgar Union, as well as a number of other unions; and the
secretaries and other officials of the WPP.. Three members of the All-India
Congress Committee were arrested, including the Bombay Provincial Secretary
of the Congress."
COMINTERN REVISIONISM TURNS RIGHT, DUTT FOLLOWING.
R.P.Dutt: "India Today", London, 1940; p.378-9.
Having over the previous years destroyed the possibility
of any effective joint united front, it was now safe for the hidden revisionists
to call again for a United Front.
At the Seventh Congress
of the CI, the line switched again, under the direction of the hidden
revisionists Georgii Dimitrov and Wang-Ming. This time to a Rightist
Dimitrov now declared that:
"In India the Communists must support, widen and participate
in all anti-imperialist mass actions even if led by national reformists.
R.Palme Dutt and Ben Bradley in their article observed that the Indian
National Congress could play a leading role in the work of creating the
anti-imperialist people's Front and Congress might itself become the United
Wang Ming "severely chided" the CPI
for its past failure to join actively in the national-imperialist struggle:
Bairathi, Ibid, p.223.
"Our comrades in India have suffered for a long time
from Left sectarian errors, they did not participate in all the mass demonstrations
organised by the National Congress or organisations affiliated with it."
THESES, laid out the new turn and were
printed in Inprecor (International Press Correspondence) Vol 26. February
29th, 1936, pp 297-300.
Cited, Overstreet and Windmiller, Ibid, p.158.
BUT THE ECCI ITSELF HAD EXPRESSLY FORBIDDEN SUCH TACTICS!
BY NOW THE CPGB WAS DIRECTING EVENTS IN THE CPI.
THE CPGB WERE LED IN THIS ENDEAVOUR BY RAJANI PALME
DUTT AND BEN BRADLEY.
THE CPGB HAD NOW NO NEED TO WORRY ABOUT ATTACKS ON
THEM FOR BEING IMPERIALISTS, LAUNCHED BY M.N.ROY.
ROY HAD AFTER ALL BEEN EXPELLED, AND HIS INFLUENCE
ROY HIMSELF NOW DRIFTED INTO LIBERALISM.
THE DUTT-BRADLEY THESES STATED THAT CONTRARY TO THE
STANCE OF THE ULTRA-LEFT 6 TH CONGRESS :
1. THERE WERE TWO WINGS OF THE CONGRESS.
Though Dutt and Bradley had previously only seen "left
national reformists" (A term that Lenin had not used- as discussed above),
there was now identified a progressive element that pressed for:
"A Line of irreconcilable struggle with imperialism,
for an advance of the program to reflect the growing influence of socialist
2. BUT IN FACT THIS WAS NOT A REVERSION TO THE STALIN
LINE OF THE UNITED FRONT IN THE COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRIES.
Dutt-Bradley Theses. In Inprecor Ibid.
For where Lenin and Stalin had called for independent
WPP, that themselves should take part in forums of the revolutionary bourgeoisie,
Dutt and Bradley identified the Congress as :
"The United Front of the Indian people in the national
THE CLASS UNDERSTANDING OF THE TWO WINGS OF THE BOURGEOISIE
WAS OBFUSCATED, PROMOTING CONFUSION.
As Dutt and Bradley put it:
"The National Congress can play a great and a foremost
role in the work of the realizing the anti-imperialist People's Front.
It is even possible that the National Congress, by the further transformation
of its organisation and programme, may become the form of realisation of
the Anti-Imperialist People's Front, for it is the reality that matters
not the name".
We have shown thus far, how the Congress was a United
Front of the comprador and the national bourgeois.
THIS PROPOSAL OF DUTT AND BRADLEY URGED A FOUR
CLASS COALITION, OF THE COMPRADOR BOURGEOISIE, THE NATIONAL BOURGEOISIE,
THE PEASANTRY AND THE WORKERS.
Its purpose was NOT to revert to Leninist-Stalinist
understanding of the national liberation struggle in colonial type countries,
but to further confuse and disorient the Communist movement.
3. MOREOVER THE PRINCIPLE OF INDEPENDENCE OF ACTION
OF THE COMMUNISTS IN THE UNITED FRONT WAS IGNORED.
In practice the line taken was for 'Unity", but this was
bought at the price of ignoring class issues.
4. THE THESES STATED THAT "TRANSFORMING THE CONGRESS",
This would require "collective affiliation" of mass organisations.
The Constitution of the Congress would require democratisation. An unambiguous
anti-imperialist program should be adopted. And finally it must eliminate
the "dogma" of non-violence.
These points are correct.
However it should be asked how likely they were ever
to be adopted; and whether they were merely a veneer to an underlying opportunism.
In light of the subsequent policies below inlcuding support of Gandhi at
a critical time), it is clear that there was never any real intent to implement
The main vehicle by which the CPI now moved to a United
Front was via the Congress Socialist Party (CSP) (See p.32), At
the Meerut Second Conference of the CSP, in January 1936, led by Jayaprakash
Narayan and Minoo R. Masani, the CSP engaged in an alliance
with the CPI.
The proposal originated from the CSP, not from the CPI.
The CPI were reluctant to accept, but the Dutt-Bradley Theses were put
into effect with a newly appointed leader of the CPI. One P.C.Joshi,
who was made General Secretary. Under his direction the CPI effectively
penetrated the CSP, with numerous conversions to communism. The CSP National
Executive grew alarmed, but continued.
In fact the disagreements in some instances came from
the CPI being to the RIGHT of the CSP:
"Indeed when disagreement came between Socialist
and Communists,it was often because the CPI had moved too far to the right.
For example in an editorial in the March issue of Communist, the CPI declared
its support for the "struggle of the Indian capitalists against the domination
of the British finance capital". The interests of all four classes converge,
said the editorial, on the issue of anti-imperialism. To the Socialists
this was a betrayal of Marxism."
THE LEADERS OF THE CPI THEN ENGAGED PERILOUSLY CLOSE TO
Overstreet and Windmiller,Ibid,p.163-4.
"The Socialist leader, Madhu Limaye, state
that the CPI and the CSP functioned "in unison", at about the beginning
of 1937, the Communists seemed to have moved closer to the Socialist point
of view. At that time, the two parties entered into the so-called "Lucknow
Agreement" which according to the Socialist Interpretation, signified
that they would eventually merge in a single organisation.. But organisational
and theoretical rivalries proved too great.. The CSP concluded that the
Lucknow Agreement was dead."
Owing to the discovery of internal documents of the CPI stating
that thee CPI was the only socialist party, the CSP grew
alarmed but did not expel the Communists.
Overstreet and Windmiller, Ibid, p.164-5.
NOW THE CPI PROPOSED "IMMEDIATE MERGING OF THE TWO
"According to Narayan the Socialist dismissed the
proposal as being patently insincere. relations between the two groups
deteriorated.. the Communists had almost succeeded in capturing control
of the National Executive. at the Lahore Conference .. by the narrowest
margin the Conference adopted Narayan's slate.. after.. cooperation between
the two parties . had only limited range of action.. primarily as the result
of a working agreement on personal level between Narayan and Joshi.."
AS TO BE EXPECTED FROM THE FORMULATIONS NOTED ABOVE IN
THE DUTT-BRADLEY THESES, WORK WITH THE CONGRESS PARTY WAS CONDUCTED FROM
A RIGHT DEVIATIONIST LINE.
Overstreet and Windmiller, Ibid, p.165-66.
Initially the CPI took a correct principled approach
to the issue of party independence. Thus when Dange openly supported the
All India Trades Union Congress AITUC over Congress candidates in Bombay,
he was threatened with disciplinary action by the Congress. Dange was President
of the AITUC and member of the All India Congress Committee. He replied:
"My choice is with the TUC, for the workers and the national
BUT THE CPI CHANGED THEIR LINE TO A RIGHT
OPPORTUNIST ONE SOON AFTER:
and he offered to resign from the Congress if necessary."
Cited Overstreet and Windmiller, Ibid, p.168.
1. THEY SUPPORTED GANDHI OVER SUBHAS CHANDRA BOSE:
This occurred at the very time when Bose's candidature
for re-election as Congress President was opposed by Gandhi. Here was an
opportunity to split off the more determined section of the INC from the
"Gandhi announced that he would consider the re-election
of Bose as a vote of no-confidence.. The Leftists supported Bose, and he
won the election. But when the Gandhians threw down the gauntlet and refused
to serve under Bose on the most important Congress body, the Working Committee,
it was clear that the Leftists could capture the Congress only at the cost
of splitting it.. At the Tripuri Congress session (March 1939),
the Socialists officially proclaimed their neutrality by abstaining; the
Communists chose unity under Gandhi."
The CPI cadre were confused, as
Ajoy Ghosh wrote in the National Front:
O&W, Ibid, p.168.
"This was a repudiation of the line we had hitherto
advocated.. this decision has given rise to tremendous confusion in the
ranks of our supporters and has definitely harmed the prestige of Communists...
Has not Tripuri meant the smashing up of the entire Left including the
Communists? Did not the Communists follow a tailist policy throughout the
Session ? Were they not obsessed with ideas of unity and did they not,
therefore try to placate everybody and end up by placating none? Did they
not in their eagerness for unity vacillate at every step, renounce their
entire political line and even their fundamental principles? These are
the questions that are being asked."
2.OTHER ERRORS OF A RIGHT DEVIATION RAPIDLY FOLLOWED :
National Front, II, March 19, 1939, p.96-101. Cited in
Overstreet and Windmiller, Ibid, p.168-9.
"The intensity of the attacks on the Congress right wing
were modified. The Party now expressed its dissatisfaction with the "vacillating"
position of the rightist leadership, but it disavowed any intention of
unseating that leadership. It was an error, New Age explained, "to make
the Right the target of attack instead of imperialism,"; in place of undermining
that leadership the Party would now endeavour only to influence it; with
confidence that "the entire national force including the national reformist
bourgeoisie can be won over to struggle against imperialism."
3. MOREOVER THE LABOUR POLICY AND MILITANCY OF THE
TRADE UNIONS WAS WOUND DOWN.
New Age V( May 1939), p. 501. In Overstreet and Windmiller,
The policy was to be based upon:
"An attempt to secure the cooperation and support of
Congress Committees." Any tendency to force a Leftist stand upon non-Communist
labour leadership" is nothing short of disruption" it said. the old tradition
of conducting workers struggles in isolation must be ended,"and strike
tactics must be conceived" with a view to win public sympathy and Congress
This phase represented a swing to the Right, and effectively
denied any independence of action to the Indian Communists. This situation
pertained right up to the Second World War. As Harry Pollitt (crypto-revisionist
leader of the CPGB) put it:
"The question of paramount importance in India in our
view is the unity of all national forces under the leadership of the Indian
WHAT MORE OPEN REPUDIATION OF A CORRECT UNITED FRONT IN
A COLONIAL TYPE COUNTRY COULD THERE BE?
From H.Pollitt, in National Front, II (March 19, 1939);
p.103, Cited Overstreet and Windmiller, Ibid, p.170.
THIS WAS NOW A COMPLETE RIGHT DEVIATION FROM A CORRECT
MARXIST-LENINIST VIEW OF THE ROLE OF THE TWO WINGS OF THE NATIVE BOURGEOISIE
IN COLONIAL TYPE COUNTRIES.
THE CPGB HAD DONE ITS WORK FOR THEIR REVISIONIST CI
In fact the Government of India of the British
in the secret police files contains an assessment made by the Governors
of the Bombay and Bihar to the Vice-Roy on the Communist Party of India
(CPI) and its wartime offer of support in 20th September, 1943. This report
revealingly analysed the CPI as being a nationalist, and NOT an
"It (the CPI) is primarily a nationalist party working
for Indian independence notwithstanding its lip service to internationalism;
and a large proportion of its members are attracted to its fold because
it stands for the overthrow of British rule."
The British Imperialists recognised that there was an effective
fusion of policy between the CPI and the INC. Sir Richard Tottenham in
a Secret note:
Home Pol; files 7/5/44-pol 1 Cited Bairathi, Ibid. p.196,
"Expressed the government's fear of the revolutionaries
who formed the bulk of the CPI's membership and favoured M.N.Roy against
P.C.Joshi (Of the CPI-Ed) as a counterweight to the Congress; because of
the latter's insistence of the release of national leaders and formation
of a national government as the most effective means of struggle against
In fact under Joshi's leadership (controlled by R.P.Dutt
of the CPGB) the policy of the CPI was being watered down to be virtually
indistinguishable from the INC:
Cited, Bairathi. Ibid, p. 196-7.
"The Central Committee meeting in Bombay in October 1944
"agreed to play down the "People's War" slogan in view of the improved
situation on the Burma Front, declaring however at the same time that the
Party was "As a whole too weak to adopt any policy which might bring it
into conflict with the Government."
It must be thought strange for a Communist Party to say this
when the world's admiration for the Soviet Union and its feats was at a
height because of the Anti-Fascist War, and shortly before the powder
keg of a Naval Mutiny in Bombay was to blow up. Thus after the Second
World War, militancy was again high:
Cited, Bairathi. Ibid, p. 196-7.
"B.C.Dutt.. became the leader of.. a relatively minor
act of protest in January 1946 that snowballed into an armed revolt that
shook the military foundations of the Raj:
The Communist leadership itself declared:
'Our group started staging little demonstrations to arouse
the other ratings. In one of those subversive activities I was arrested..
we went to the breakfast table, somebody said: 'the
food is rotten! We won't eat it!' We all came out..
we managed to get the other important barrack Castle Barrack, where the
seamen ratings were with us. By evening all the establishment in Bombay
had thrown their officers out.'
Within 48 hours the revolt had spread.. led by a committee
of Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims.. maintained throughout a communal activity which
was unique in the prevailing climate of sectarian hostility and Muslim
separatism. The mutineers appealed to both the Congress and the Muslim
League to join in leading them.." that was our first mistake "..The politicians
took fright at the prospect of an armed insurrection which might jeopardise
the bargains.. they joined in the call to the rating to surrender. Though
abandoned by the politicians, the Mutineers received unexpected support
from Bombay mill- workers who there up barricades in the city's industrial
areas and fought pitched battles with the British troops.. According to
'For the first time the British had to bring in tanks
to put down the workers in Bombay city.. they all rose irrespective of
the political parties.'
The government acted swiftly to prevent a repetition of 1857..
B.C.Dutt maintains.. that if the politicians had backed the ratings, India
might have achieved independence without partition."
Zareer Masani. "Indian tales of the Raj", Berkeley, 1987.
'The Party had played no part in the organizing the rebellion
and that the Communist participants had acted strictly on their own."
Socialist Party commentator Madhu Limaye passed the
Cited, Overstreet & Windmiller; Ibid; p. 236.
"The Communist leadership was "Confused and bewildered"
in the face of rising fever of popular discontent; committed to a collaborationist
line, the party was slow to detect much less to seize opportunities for
more militant action. According to Limaye it;
In fact, in the words of the bourgeois historians of the
CPI, in the immediate post war period, the CPI was:
'reluctantly followed in the wake of these demonstrations,
appealing for the creation of a United Front."
Cited, O&W Ibid. p.236.
"Seeking not revolution but respectability."
In pursuit of respectability, the party took up its electoral
rights- in of itself a correct move.
O & W p.236
BUT THEN IT PROCEEDED TO ACCEPT THE COMMUNAL
"For a total of 1,585 provincial legislative seats,
the Party put up only 108 candidates; and it announced that where there
was no Communist candidate the CPI would support the Congress candidate
for general seats, and the Muslim League candidates for Muslim seats. Thus
the CPI gave notice that it accepted the communal differential in legislative
representation.. it won only 8 seats.. its victories were confined to Bengal,
Bombay, Madras and Orissa.. the CPI won only 2.5% of the total popular
THE CPI HAD BY NOW CAPITULATED TO A DIVISION OF INDIA
ALONG RELIGIOUS AND UNPRICNCIPLED LINES.
O&W Ibid. p. 236-7.
ULTIMATELY THIS HELPED TO LAY THE GROUNDWORK FOR THE
BRITISH IMPERIALIST PLAN TO DIVIDE INDIA INTO TWO STATES ALONG THE LINES
THE OLD BRITISH POLICY OF DIVIDE AND RULE WAS BEING
AIDED BY THE COMMUNIST PARTY.
It is perfectly safe to say, that by this time the party,
(Still firmly in the hands of the revisionists) had basically ceded to
the Indian National Congress full hegemony. Moreover this action of the
CPI to enhance communalism was not the first or the last. The opportunist
and incorrect tactics with reference to the National Question, will be
dealt with in Part Two. As outlined, Rajani Palme Dutt and Ben Bradley
of the CPGB, were important in effecting this revisionist victory in India.
Before discussing Russian Indologists, such as Dyakov,
we briefly discuss the CPGB attitude to the Mountbatten Plan, and its
advice to the CPI. This Plan as is well known, aimed to allow a faltering
Britain to retire from India physically, but maintain its position as the
imperialist power over a Neo-Colony.
By the time that the Mountbatten Plan was announced,
R.P.Dutt had already been heavily involved in the right opportunist shift
of the CPI. His statements over this period were critical to the formation
of policy to the CPI. In March 1946, Dutt arrived in India as a Reporter
for the Daily Worker, covering the Cabinet Mission to India:
"At the outset Dutt.. confirmed the correctness
of the current CPI strategy - collaboration of all anti-imperialist anti-feudal
classes in a "unified national front". But he suggested important tactical
adjustments. Though he subscribed to a variety of Congress-League-Communist
United Fronts.. the crux of his advice was.. that there be a From-Above
alliance between the Communist and the Congress. Deploring the split between
them, he wrote:
ACCORDINGLY DUTT WENT TO GREAT LENGTHS TO ACHIEVE THE
MARRIAGE OF CPI AND THE INC.
'It is to be hoped that this breach may be overcome at
the earliest possible moment in view of the paramount importance of national
unity in the coming period."
Cited, Overstreet and Windmiller. p. 237-8.
He forced the CPI to repudiate their Electoral Statements
on the Constituent Assemblies for all the regional nascent Nationalities.
This was a move that Dyakov very strongly condemned.
But Dutt went further, he in essence again wished to take
away from the CPI its' independence of room and identity, from that of
"Dutt described the Congress in the most sympathetic
terms.. he did not challenge that they wished "to
break the stranglehold of British monopoly" and to
pursue large scale industrial development." Dutt laboured personally to
effect a Congress - Communist reconciliation, In a dramatic move he broached
the problem directly not only with Gandhi, Nehru, but to others such as
Sardar Vallabhai Patel and S.K.Patil who were noted for their
hostility to communism.. Dutt went further and pressed his Indian comrades
to modify their tactics in order to propitiate the Congress - most importantly
to extricate themselves from their position of open support to the idea
of Pakistan.. the CPI must make it clear that self-determination for the
"Seventeen nationalities" of India was not the same as the Leagues' demands
for a single Muslim state.. furthermore Dutt made a constitutional proposal
that was in flat contradiction to the election manifesto's demands for
17 sovereign states based on linguistic entities. Ignoring the CPI's scheme
for a confederation of 17 constituent assemblies who would send plenipotentiary
representatives to a central body, Dutt proposed a central Constituent
Assembly directly elected by the people, with "sovereign" power to determine
the constitutional framework of India. "
THE CPI NOW FELL IN AND SENT A MEMORANDUM TO THE CABINET
MISSION THAT ACCORDED WITH DUTT'S PRESCRIPTION.
Cited, O&W. Ibid. p.238-9.
THE CPI BASICALLY AGREED TO THE MOUNTBATTEN PLAN WITH
ITS PARTITION OF INDIA.THEY HAD NOT CHALLENGED THE HEGEMONY OF THE INC
IN THE INDEPENDENCE STRUGGLE. INDIA WAS NOW DIVIDED INTO TWO STATES, THAT
IN CONSTANT TENSION WITH EACH OTHER ALLOWED FOREIGN IMPERIALISMS TO CONTROL
THIS WAS THE DENOUEMENT OF THE RIGHT PERVERSION OF
UNITED FRONT TACTICS THAT FOLLOWED THE 7 TH CONGRESS OF THE COMINTERN.
BUT BEFORE THAT RIGHT TURN, THE ULTRA-LEFT TURN OF THE COMINTERN AT THE
6TH CONGRESS, HAD COST THE WORKERS AND PEASANTS OF INDIA, THE LEADERSHIP
OF THE NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE STRUGGLE.
AS A DIRECT RESULT OF THE TWISTS, THE RULING CLASS
OF INDIA WAS NOW A CLASS COALITION COMPRISED OF :
1. THE PAN-INDIAN MARWARI NATIONAL BOURGEOISIE;
(led by Jawaharlal Nehru);
THIS CLASS COALITION RULED INDIA FOR THE NEXT PERIOD.
2. THE COMPRADOR BOURGEOISIE (Led
By Sardar Vallabhai Patel and others);
3. AND THE LANDLORD CLASS (Led
by Sardar Vallabhai Patel and including the Princely
WE WILL DISCUSS IN DETAIL THE FUTURE CLASS SHIFTS THAT
WERE TO OCCUR, IN PART TWO.
BUT IN BRIEF THESE MAJOR SHIFTS WERE TO BE :
1.THE GREAT IMPERIALIST POWER TO WHOM THE COMPRADORS
WERE ALLIED TO.
According to the fortunes of the great powers, the dominant
foreign imperialism to whom the compradors were tied were the British,
then the USA, then the Russian social imperialists (after the death of
Stalin. The competition between the Soviet social imperialists and the
USA capitalists imperialists, allowed a certain limited room for manoeuvre
for even the compradors. Especially since there was no principled Communist
2. THE RELATIVE STRENGTH OF THE MARWARI NATIONAL CAPITALISTS
VIS A VIS THE COMPRADOR FACTION.
The class coalition was an unstable one. At varying times
one was more dominant than the other. The Nehru wing proceeded to install
a State Capitalist regime that within tight confines, tried to build an
industrialised state. They were hampered at every step by the instruments
of foreign Western capitalist imperialism such as the World Bank etc. The
state apparatus suppressed the other developing national classes of India.
At varying points, the dominant faction of the ruling coalition became
the comprador capitalist class.
REALPOLITIK : BRITISH IMPERIALISM IN A JAM :
Hugh Dalton Diary February 1947:
It has been asked how Britain could possibly relinquish control
of India voluntarily? After all, the keystone of the Indian Jewel in the
Crown of British Imperialism was critical to Britain's position as an Imperialist
power. Lord Curzon had warned in 1907, that if India were lost so
would a great deal else be lost:
"If you are in a place where you are not wanted, and
where you have not got the force, or perhaps the will, to squash those
who don't want you, the only thing to do is to come out.. The Tories are
making a good deal of hoot about India, but I don't think that one person
in a hundred thousand in this country care tuppence about it, so long as
British people are not being mauled out there."
Cited by Tomlinson, Ibid, p. 149.
"If India were lost: "Your ports and coaling stations,
your fortresses and dockyards, your Crown colonies and protectorates will
go too. For either they will be unnecessary as the toll gates and barbicans
of an empire that has vanished, or they will taken by an enemy more powerful
BUT ACTUALLY, THE BRITISH DID NOT "LET INDIA GO VOLUNTARILY".
THEIR OBJECTIVE POSITION WAS WEAK.
Cited by Paul Kennedy. "The realities behind Diplomacy.
Background influences on British External Policy, 1865-1980. London.1981.
In the face of a continuing loss of control over events
in India, the only alternative to attempting to leave India as a full Imperialist
power, was to crush the INC and worse the developing mass movement. This,
though led badly and opportunistically, still had the potential under correct
leadership of drawing together a huge discontent. The Bombay Naval Mutiny
had indicated how delicate the situation was. Moreover, Britain was in
fact "Shoved" off the stage by the brutal attitudes of its partners in
crime. Its erstwhile ally, the USA, now took its chance and called in its'
"Three weeks after the General election, the war
was over. The first consequence of this sudden end was the equally abrupt
termination of Lend-Lease. The new American President stuck to the letter
of the law. .... he decided to stop all Lend-Lease shipments forthwith.
Not only were there no to be no new contracts but supplies in the pipeline
were to be paid for and a new inventory was to be prepared of all items
still under United Kingdom control. Thus what had happened the United Kingdom
with roughly 2/3 of the funds needed to finance a total external deficit
of PS 10,000 million over the six years of war was withdrawn unilaterally
and without prior negotiation."
Mr. Atlee, then Prime Minister
summed up the alarming situation in the House of Commons on 24 August,
Alec Cairncross. "Years of Recovery. British economic
policy 1945-51". London. 1985. p.3-4.
"We can of course only demobilize and reconvert gradually,
and the sudden cessation of support on which our war organisation has so
largely depended puts us in avery serious financial position.. Our overseas
outgoings on the eve of the defeat of Japan were equivalent to expenditure
at the rate of about PS 2000 million a year, including the essential food
and other non-essential supplies which we have received hitherto under
Lend-Lease but must now pay for. Towards this total in the present year,
1945, our exports are contributing PS 350 million and certain sources of
income mainly temporary such as receipts from the US Forces in this country
and reimbursements from the Dominions of war expenditure which we have
incurred on their behalf, PS 450 million, Thus the initial deficit which
we start the task of reestablishing our economy and of contracting our
overseas commitments is immense."
In concluding the accounts, Cairncross presents the gloomy
sums that faced the British imperialists:
A.Cairncross, Ibid p. 6
"No one could tell how long it might be before exports
could be boosted.. British officials had.. concluded.. that a very substantial
excess over pre-war volume of exports was indispensable.. the war had reduced
income from invisible as well as visible trade. There had ben heavy shipping
losses. The gross tonnage lost.. was 28%. To the loss on freights had to
be added the reduction in income from foreign assets which had paid in
1938 or one quarter of retained imports. A large part of private portfolio
holdings had been disposed of either after requisitioning or voluntarily:
sales of investments during the war were in excess of Pounds Sterling (PS)
1000 million. Other foreign assets - in Malaysia - for example - would
take time to yield an income or yield an income that fell short of pre-War
earnings, especially if allowance was made for the large and continuing
fall in the value of money. The change on the assets side was dwarfed by
the debts that had been run up all over the world, mostly in countries
like India and Egypt, where the occupying power had incurred heavy military
and other expenditure for which payment was made in sterling. The sterling
and dollar liabilities accumulated during the war reached a total at the
end of the 1945 of Pound Sterling (PS) 3500 million. When sales of foreign
investments and of a small amount of gold and dollars are added in, the
net change on capital account between the outbreak of war and the end of
1945 amounted to no less than PS 4,700 million. The United Kingdom ended
the war with the largest external debt in history." Cairncross.
The financial picture of trying to resuscitate the Home economy,
and at the same time preventing the Indian sub-continent from exploding
into revolution did not make much sense to the British.
THE IMPERIALISTS THOUGHT THAT THEY COULD MAKE A BARGAIN
WITH INDIAN INDUSTRIALISTS AND LEAVE THEM THE STAGE, WHILE THEY CONTINUED
TO PULL THE EFFECTIVE STRINGS.
The British were not totally correct, but they did effectively
hamper an Indian independent development, as the history of so called "Western
Aid" showed, over the next 30 years. But in fact, as they physically left
the sub-continent, hoping to remain the imperialist pay masters of the
new Indian neo-colony, the USA rapidly stepped into their shoes. These
developments will be discussed in detail in Part Two.
But the British did not entirely succeed in extinguishing
the thirst for full control by the Indian bourgeoisie with whom they made
bargains, and this forms the history of the State Industrialisations carried
out under the Mahanoblis Planning Commissions (See Part Two).
That the British had their suspicions about the underlying
desire of some of the Indian industrialists is made clear by their approach
to Partition. The main purpose of Partition was to enable the Imperialists
to continue to dominant the economy of the Indian sub-continent. This would
be performed in two main ways.
Firstly Partition in fact
effectively divorced the raw material from the heavy industrial base for
working on the raw material. The internal balance of Trade at Partition
expressed in millions of rupees shows this clearly:
A. RAW COTTON, RAW JUTE, FOOD
B. COAL, IRON, COTTON TEXTILES,
SUGAR AND JUTE MANUFACTURE.
Cited "Eastern Economist" January 2nd, 1948.
The Second major reason for
the Partition was the even more simple raison d'etre of divide and rule.
The British had long known that the Indian sub-continent was composed of
"The notion that India is a nationality rests upon that
vulgar error which political science principally aims at eradicating..
India is .. only a geographical expression, like Europe or Africa, It does
not mark the territory of a nation and a language, but the territory of
many nations and many languages."
The false notions that India's nationality depended upon
religion were played upon to create even further disruption and chaos.
All players on the poetical scene agreed for differing reasons to this
tactic. We have already outlined above the view of D.N. that the big bourgeoisie
of Marwari-Gujerati-Parsi background induced the Indian National Congress
not to seriously contend Partition; because this would hamper the emerging
regional bourgeoisie who would challenge the newly dominant Central bourgeoisie.
Sir John Seeley: "The Expansion of England", London,
The CPI contributed to this subterfuge by including
the so called nations of "Hindu" "Moslem" and "Sikh" in their catalogue
of the Indian Nations.
Their approach to the elections was also opportunist,
as outlined above. They agreed that there should be separate electoral
rolls,and that they would defer in a Hindu area to a Hindu candidate and
the same in a Moslem area, if they were sanding no candidates themselves.
We will deal in detail with the CPI's twist on the national
question at a later stage, in Part Two.
SOVIET VIEWS ON INDIA - DYAKOV .
Dyakov, a Soviet Indologist, was clearly correct in his
general line on the issue of the multi-national state of India. His views
are therefore of interest to us. During the period 1948-50 stage moreover,
his pronouncements make some sense. It is also clear that there was a major
difference of opinion in Indologists in the USSR, concerning the class
character of the Indian state.
Dyakov disagreed with the CPI in its analysis of the Mountbatten
Plan for Indian partition and "Independence".
Whereas the CPI thought it to be progressive (See below),
Dyakov denounced it:
"The hollowness of accusations about subservience to
Moscow quite frequently hurled at the CPI can be seen from the widely divergent
assessments of the Indian political scene by Soviet commentators and the
CPI's official statements and resolutions. Whereas the Soviets denounced
the Mountbatten plan as a betrayal of the national cause and criticised
Nehru for accepting it, the CPI declared the settlement a forward step
and pledged the Party's cooperation to the Nehru Government. The Party
continued its line of "loyalist opposition" for about half a year after
the Soviet experts on India assembled in a special session of the Academy
of Sciences on June 1947 had written off the new Indian Government as reactionary."
But the genesis of this final line went through a sequence.
p.210, Bairathi, Ibid.
Initially the line of Dyakov was that the national bourgeoisie
ultimately betrayed the revolution in 1947. Later on, Dyakov would retroactively
revise his opinion as to when the betrayal came. Dyakov does not
explicitly name the section of bourgeoisie that were represented by the
INC. Nonetheless, since one does not expect a comprador bourgeoisie to
do anything but retard the movement for national liberation; it is clear
that the bourgeoisie of the Congress that Dyakov refers to are national
Another India commentator, E.Zhukov, however seems
to have undertaken some varying positions. His views were later to be in
a sharp contrast to Dyakov. In the pre 1947 era he declared for the UN;
a position which seems naive and objectively a hidden support for imperialism:
"U.N. trusteeship can "accelerate the progressive development
of colonies along the path to complete independence.. he referred favourably
to the Anglo-Soviet-American coalition" which led the forces of democracy,"
and urged that its program - presumably the Atlantic Charter - be applied
to the colonies."
Dyakov, prior to the Mountbatten Plan, was also commenting
on the Congress; making clear that he considered it a class coalition:
1945, Cited by Overstreet and Windmiller. Ibid. p. 225.
"He commended the heterogenous composition of the Congress
and the broad support it received from the masses. He did not identify
its leadership with any single class, merely remarking that the bourgeoisie
played a "large role" in it. He stated that the Congress aimed at complete
independence for Indian and that its social and economic program was, under
Indian conditions "progressive". He described Nehru as a "progressive democrat,"
and praised him for his:
It is possible that Dyakov had a very poor assessment of
the role of the CPI, since he discussed it rarely:
"in the main correct appraisal of the international situation."
However other Congress leaders were typified, said Dyakov,
by Abul Kalam Azad, whom he characterised as far less progressive,
although not an orthodox Gandhian like the "narrow nationalists" Sardar
Vallabhai Patel and Rajendra Prasad."
A.Dyakov, INC Leaders, New Times May 15th 1946.
p 27-29. Cited Overstreet and Windmiller. Ibid,
"One of the most striking features of the Soviet commentary..
was its almost total disregard of the CPI. Though they discussed the Congress
and the League at length, they scarcely mentioned the CPI, much less identified
it as the vanguard of the national-liberation movement. The reason.. may
be discerned in a comment by Dyakov:
Even immediately after the announcement of the Mountbatten
Plan for India Dyakov still referred to Nehru as a "Left wing progressive"
(p.249, Overstreet and Windmiller). But very shortly after, Dyakov attacked
the Mountbatten Plan:
'The social and political activity of the masses in India
remains at a very low level, and their degree of organisation is considerably
inferior to that observed in democratic countries. This being so, a political
party like the Congress embracing comparatively limited circles, is in
a position to formulate in its program a number of propositions which have
the support of considerably broader sections of the population."
Cited Overstreet and Windmiller, Ibid. p.228.
"Denouncing the plan as a British manoeuvre calculated
to perpetuate imperialist control of the subcontinent, he declared that
the Indian leaders in accepting it, had "abandoned
their former position". They had done so he said because the "top levels
of the India's wealthy classes are exerting strong pressure on National
Congress leaders and compelling them to agree to a compromise." Indian
businessmen desired a bargain with imperialism, Dyakov said, whereby they
would share the domestic market and avert revolution.. Dyakov hedged his
Zhukov at this point came out strongly against the Congress
and stated that the Indian big bourgeoisie had:
'We still do not know what their motives were
(ie Congress), but from the comments in the Indian press
it can only be judged that certain political circles thought it better
to consent without delay to at least a partial satisfaction of the demand
for independence rather than leave the whole question hanging in the air
Moreover, Dyakov commended Nehru's assertion that the
Constituent Assembly would act as a sovereign body and not be limited by
the British proposals."
Overstreet and Windmiller, Ibid. p.253.
"Capitulated to imperialism because they feared the masses
more than they had feared the British. They did not desire full independence,
but instead were content to strike a mutually profitable deal with the
British whereby formal independence would be qualified by continued imperialist
economic and military connections.. Nehru was now called a "rich man" and
accused of moving to the right with such reactionary leaders as Patel.
Another notable feature of Zhukov's pronouncement was his emphasis on the
role of the working class, which he said was now more than ever the leading
force of the anti-imperialist movement.. the peasantry by contrast was
backward, being immobilized by illiteracy, the caste system, and the remnants
of feudalism in the countryside. Zhukov proposed a.. strategy against imperialism
and its allies, feudalism and monopoly capitalism. Though this strategy
required an attack on Nehru's government, its identification of the government
with the big bourgeoisie connoted a moderate program; that is the united-front-from-below-tactic
designed for an appeal not only to the petty bourgeoisie but to the middle
bourgeoisie as well."
However the USSR India specialists had differences in their
line between themselves:
Overstreet and Windmiller, Ibid. p. 254-5.
"The differences in the more extreme views of Balabushevich
and Dyakov and the somewhat more moderate stand of Zhukov should not be
overlooked. The former considered that the Nehru Government represented
not only the big bourgeoisie but the middle bourgeoisie as well and that
the latter had turned reactionary. In place of Zhukov's four-class strategy
against imperialism, feudalism, monopoly capitalism, Balabushevih and Dyakov
proposed the there class strategy against capitalism (excluding the entire
class of the bourgeoisie and relying only on the workers, peasants and
the petty bourgeois intelligentsia). The Moscow debate signalled the birth
of a new line towards the National movement in Asia."
To resolve these differences, an extraordinary step was
taken. The Academy of Sciences in June 1947 held a Special session to discuss
the Indian situation.
O&W Ibid p.211
At this session, the keynote address was delivered by
Zhukov. His views have been summarised above; drawn from an article published
in July 1947, that formed the basis of Zhukov's Keynote address
at the Academy of Sciences.
Zhukov disagreed fundamentally with Dyakov and Balabushevich.
The latter two felt that the Nehru Government represented
not only the big bourgeoisie, but the middle bourgeoisie as well, and that
the latter too had turned reactionary. The different class balances had
of course different corollaries for the CPI:
"In place of Zhukov's Four class strategy against imperialism,
feudalism, and monopoly capitalism, they proposed the 3 class strategy
against capitalism. Whereas Zhukov's formula called for a moderate program
as the basis for opposing the Nehru Government, that of Dyakov and Balabushevich
required a very radical program aimed at revolution.. though Dyakov and
Balabushevich were saying in effect that Indian had passed to a higher
stage of revolution, they did not draw on the Stalinist formula for China
to assert that this higher stage was the agrarian revolution."
On the Partition of India both Balabushevich and Dyakov
were also in agreement:
Overstreet and Windmiller, Ibid. p.257 .
"According to Balabushevich the partition of India was
"the result of a deal of the Indian bourgeoisie with English imperialism."
He declared that: "The Indian bourgeoisie and the leadership of the National
Congress have gone over completely to the camp of reaction and imperialism."
Dyakov said that the partition of India demonstrated "That the Indian bourgeoisie,
which plays which plays a decisive role in the leadership of the Congress,
came to a compromise based on the abandonment of its' own demands." The
current situation, he declared is a result of "The cupidity and treachery
of the Indian bourgeoisie which for the sake of its profits is prepared
to sacrifice the independence of its country."
It is of interest that both Balabushevich and Dyakov at this
time revised their earlier slightly rosier opinions of the Congress:
O&W p. 256.
"Both B. and Dyakov condemned the Indian national
leadership not only unqualifiedly, but retroactively. B stated
the Congress had been revealed as "bankrupt" during the war, and in the
immediate postwar period "the reactionary policy of the National Congress
and the Muslim League had only strengthened the position of British imperialism
and permitted it to manoeuvre." In a similar vein Dyakov asserted that
the Congress Interim Government had begun to take a reactionary line in
1946; "coming openly to the defence of the interest of the Indian bourgeoisie".
Finally, we should note that Dyakov later on changed his
mind about the role of Mohandas Gandhi. But this was at a much later
time, when revisionism had been openly and brazenly victorious. His earlier
opinions are cited above, are for the most part of a correct orientation.
Now Dyakov thought differently:
O&W p. 256.
"The question concerning which class Gandhi represented
in his ideology has aroused great discussion.. The following views have
been held. Gandhi was a representative of the landowners, of the national
bourgeoisie.. of the peasants. This is a very difficult question to decide.
Gandhi was a very complicated figure."
For the reasons we have stated above, we would disagree
with this analysis of Gandhi. Dyakov's later comments
came after Kuusinen and other revisionists in the CPI had praised Gandhi.
The same Kuusinen who in the 20th Party Congress of the CPSU attacked Stalin,
in the wake of Khruschev.
O&W Ibid, p. 521.
"If one approaches Gandhi as a political and ideological
leader, then one must recognise that he acted as a representative of the
national bourgeois.. The fact that all the political activity was mainly
concerned with his striving for the independence of India testifies also
to the fact that he could in no case have been a representative of the
landowner class. In summing up.. Basically Gandhi, played a positive role
in the development of the national liberation movement. It was precisely
as a result of Gandhi's activities as a leader of the National Congress
that organisation transformed into a mass party. Our unconditionally negative
attitude towards Gandhi's non-violent tactics have been refuted by the
facts. The national Congress adopting those tactics under conditions of
a general stirring of the anti-imperialist movement, succeeded in inspiring
very broad - and also backward-masses for the struggle."
Cited from A.M.Dyakov and I.M.Resiner, in O& W. Ibid,p.521.
YUGOSLAV REVISIONISM ENTERS THE DEBATE
After the Mountbatten Plan, the Yugoslavs entered
the debate on the role of the national bourgeoisie. Larger issues of more
general theoretical concerns than just India were being raised. Andreii
Zhdanov at the First Cominform meeting, held in Poland in September
1947, denied the neo-Trotskyite line. This line denied any progressive
role for the national bourgeoisie was left in 1947:
"Balabushevich and Dyakov however did not endorse the
cry for a violent revolution to smash the institutions of bourgeois democracy
given by the Yugoslav Party theorist Edvard Kardelj in an article
published in January 1947 in the official organ of the Yugoslav party.
In Kardelj's view the bourgeoisie as a whole had turned reactionary and
had to be met with violent revolution. As against this line Soviet theorist
Zhdanov called upon the Communist Parties to lead national resistance
to the "plans of imperialist expansion and aggression
along every line."..
Zhdanov did however point out that:
But in his calls for an intensified anti-imperialist
campaign in the colonies Zhdanov did not sanction an all out capitalist
strategy. Nor did he hold that the bourgeoisie as a whole had turned reactionary."
Cited p.210-211. Bairathi. Ibid.
"The weakening of the imperialist states had aggravated
the "crisis of the colonial system". In desperation
the imperialist powers resorted to several devices to maintain the subjection
of the colonies. They had tried to crush the national movements by force,
producing colonial wars such as those in Indonesia and Viet Nam. Or they
had erected a Red Bogey to justify their continued power, in this way:
At this meeting, the Yugoslavs pushed the line that:
"They are seeking to keep India and China under the sway
of imperialism and in continued political and economic bondage".
In the current international situation, he declared:
"The chief danger to the working class.. lies in its
underrating of its own strength and overrating the strength of the enemy,"
Communist parties must lead national resistance to:
"The plans of imperialist expansion and aggression along
O&W p. 267-8.
"The democratic and socialist revolutions must
"intertwine", and that therefore the Communists must attack
the bourgeoisie as a whole. It was to this speech
that the CPI radicals paid the most eager attention; extracts from this
together with parts of the Marshall Tito's main report to the Yugoslav's
Party's Second Congress were reprinted in the official CPI journal. According
to Ajoy Ghosh, the Indian radicals regarded Kardelj as the
greatest Marxist thinker outside Russia.. S.A.Dange made a trip
to Prague.. he apparently served on his return as a carrier of the Yugoslav
line; R.P.Dutt later referred to him as "one of the main vehicles
for Titoite political influence in the CPI."
Why should the Yugoslavs get embroiled in this debate
at this particular juncture?
would appear that the main political aim of the Yugoslavs here was to further
obscure the differentiation between the first stage and the second stage
of the revolution in a colonial country. Obviously this would mean that
clarity in the international movement was replaced by obfuscation; it would
tend to retard the revolutionary process in the colonial countries.
Secondly, the Yugoslavs were clearly tied to imperialists,
in particular the British and the USA. The strategy being outlined by the
Yugoslavs would objectively aid imperialism by damaging the likelihood
of successful anti-imperialist struggles being launched. This would apply
also on the Continent of Europe in the People's Democracy. Here the successful
application of correct United Front tactics were crucial for the carrying
over into the socialist part of the revolution.
But, thirdly and crucially for the Yugoslavs,
this obfuscation would have the added benefit of obscuring the fact that
the Yugoslavs had not entered (nor even wished to enter) the Socialist
FOR IF ONE CAN "INTERTWINE" THE DEMOCRATIC AND SOCIALIST
REVOLUTIONS, IT IS NO LONGER NECESSARY TO DISCUSS THE TWO STAGES - THE
SOCIALIST AND DEMOCRATIC.
Of course Lenin and Stalin point out that Marxist - Leninists
should move from the First revolution to the second Socialist phase without
a "Chinese Wall" in between. Lenin and Stalin had pointed out that the
more resolute in the vanguard of the First revolution the proletarians
are, the quicker it is possible to move into the second stage.
It is not surprising that the Yugoslavs would apply
this line to the People's Democracy.
The Yugoslav explanation of the People's Democracies
(then being set up in the European countries following the defeat of German
fascism), was that they were a new type of state directed at foreign imperialism:
"A Peoples Democracy was a new transitional state form
being neither a bourgeois nor a proletarian government, It pursued the
parliamentary machinery of bourgeois democracy, but employed it in the
interests of a worker-peasant alliance. Moreover it directed its policy
primarily against foreign capital (that is against imperialism) the big
bourgeoisie (monopoly capitalism) and the big landlords (feudalism), In
short it adopted the anti-imperialist strategy. But by mid-1947, this view
of Peoples Democracy was apparently under attack from.. the Yugoslav Party..
they asserted that these states must intertwine these 2 revolutions, in
order to press on to socialism. They suggested.. a more drastic policy
aimed against the bourgeois capitalist class as a whole, and not merely
at monopoly capitalism and feudalism. And they suggested that the institutions
of bourgeois democracy must be smashed and replaced by new forms of "Soviet
Democracy" - the forms to be determined by specific circumstances.. (footnote
no.9:) "a number of works cite evidence of the Leftism of the Yugoslav
THE YUGOSLAVS TAKE CONTROL OF THE CPI - AN ADVENTURIST
O&W, Ibid. p.258.
Unfortunately, the Yugoslav revisionist leadership had
taken hold of the CPI.
One set of revisionists in the control of the CPI
were substituted for another.
That initial set had been Joshi, who had obeyed
the dictates of R.P.Dutt and the behest of the revisionist controlled CPGB.
Following the Cominform Meeting, the new set of "foreign
leader revisionists" for the CPI were led by the Belgrade revisionists,
whose tool was Ranadive.
They were to move the CPI into an Ultra-Left form of
attack upon the State. The CPI declared a "War" against the Nehru Government:
"The radicals in the CPI.. in the second week of December
1947 the Indian Central Committee met in Bombay, and the radical faction
challenged Joshi.. the radical faction was well armed, Ranadive secured
majority support for his line and displaced Joshi as the new leader of
the Party.. in a new resolution the CC announced a complete reversal of
the Party's course. The resolution denounced as "opportunism" the assumption
made by Joshi and Dutt that the Nehru government could be influenced by
popular pressure or that it might even be reorganised to include leftist
forces. Instead the resolution called for an uncompromising struggle against
the government. Following Zhdanov's thesis that the world was now divided
into two hostile camps, it declared that Nehru's policy "is only leading
to subservience to the Anglo-American Imperialist Camp.. the Russian academicians
had long before reached agreement on Nehru."
Ranadive now entered a Terroristic ultra-Left phase of
O & W, Ibid. p.269.
In order to do this he had to attack those actually
leading an insurrection. This was the Telangana Insurrection leadership.
Joshi had ignored Telangana to this point. At the 2nd All-India Party Congress
in December, 1948 when Ranadive took control, Telangana was used as a positive
example. Ranadive became General Secretary. Ranadive and Bhowani Sen
proclaimed that Telangana was the new model for CPI policy. Dutt
in Labour Monthly now followed closely and approved the new line. The line
"This people's democratic revolution involved the completion
of the tasks of the democratic revolution and the simultaneous building
up of Socialism.. the CPI must mobilise the working class, the peasantry,
and the petty bourgeois. The Nehru Government represented the interest
of the Indian national bourgeoisie; this government must be attacked by
a new democratic front, a genuine fighting alliance of the masses."
BUT HAVING DECLARED WAR ON THE NEHRU GOVERNMENT, THE CPI
HAD NOT GONE UNDERGROUND. IT WAS DEVASTATED BY ARRESTS AND DECLARED ILLEGAL
ON MARCH 26TH, 1948.
Overstreet and Windmiller, Ibid, p.273.
Within one month of the Second Congress of the CPI, the
party was desperately floundering. But the top leadership was deliberately
excluded from arrest and left outside. Only now did they go underground.
Ranadive from hiding issued declarations for general strikes and peasant
rising, for which no work had been prepared, and the appeal fell on dry
soil. The party deteriorated at this time into individual terrorism. The
Congress party was incorrectly labelled as being Fascist. This adventurist
path soon lost the CPI support.
After the exposure of the Yugoslavs by the Cominform,
the CPI was rebuked.
"That the situation was far from being revolutionary.
He did not describe the Indian scene in terms of "revolutionary upsurge",
as had Ranadive, but spoke merely of the "peoples' great disappointment"
with the new government. He declared that the Government of India and Pakistan
"are becoming more and more isolated from the masses", and are " becoming
tools of the imperialists."
Telangana, an open insurrection had taken an avowedly Maoist
line by exempting the rich peasantry from CPI attack. This class
collaboration was of course inconsistent with the Ultra-Left swing of the
CPI and it was condemned by Randive:
O&W, Ibid, p.281.
"Communist parties in the non-Hindi regions wanted a
doctrinal pretext for local alliances with aggrieved regional caste groups
whose interest conflicted with the Marwaris.. To ally with any capitalists
or landowner was intolerable of course for B.T.Ranadive, then secretary
for the CPI.. he screamed heresy at the Andhra Communists.. with their
leadership in the wealthy Kamma landowning caste, the Andhra Communists
had good reason to espouse the Maoist line in India. The Andhra Communists
had established ground rules at the start for the Telengana insurrection
in 1948 which assured most of their Kamma brethren went unscathed.
So long as the middling rich farmers who make up the bulk of the caste
stayed above the battle, they were classified in Communist
strategy as neutralized. This outright deviation from the Ranadive line,
which saw all landowners as equally villainous.. Ranadive attacking the
Andhra Secretariat, publicly charged that in Andhra Communist ranks:
Of course the Andhra Communists had been Ultra-Rightist,
or Maoist on this issue.
"It is the rural intellectuals, sons of rich peasants
and middle peasants that preponderate in important positions. The party
politically based itself on the vacillating politics of the middle peasants
and allowed itself to be influenced by rich peasant ideology'".
Selig Harrison, Ibid. p.162
Nonetheless, an Insurrection had already been mounted.
A parallel can be made to Stalin's view that the Kuomintang
Generals should not have their lands expropriated, whilst they cooperated
with the worker and peasants. The Andhra Communists do not say this but
their line appears to be similar:
"The Andhra Communists had made no secret of their "Rich
peasant" policy within the party. They explicitly declared themselves on
this point in a 1948 program report.. which stressed 2 major tactical rules
Eventually, following the attack of the Stalin controlled
Cominform upon Yugoslav revisionism, the CPI shook off the Yugoslav domination.
"1. In delta areas the pressure of population would be
heavy and as such slogans should be raised for the distribution of lands
belonging to rich ryots among the poor peasants and labourers.
Ranadive also singled out for special attack another
statement of this position in a 1948 Andhra statement discussing
tactics towards Government rice procurement for rationing:
2. Propaganda should be carried out to convince the ryots
about the just demands of the workers, and we should also effect compromises
with those of the ryots who would follow with us. Assurance should also
be given that we should not touch the lands of rich ryots."
"In the matter of procurement of paddy the Secretariat
believes that it is possible to neutralize the rich peasants as the government
plan goes against the rich peasantry also. Though the rich peasantry as
class is not standing firmly in the fight, it is parting with paddy with
Harrison, Ibid. p. 163.
But it was the CPI pro-Mao faction that would
unseat the Ranadive faction.
For as long as it had been untrained in thinking for itself,
the CPI had of course to substitute a new master. The history of the party
appears to have been from the days of Roy's expulsion, a new line and a
new International Big Brother.
THIS TIME IT WAS THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CHINA:
"The Andhra document specifically justified the policy of
"rich peasant" by pointing to Mao.. It was not until the summer of 1950
after the Cominform Journal had:
WE END HERE; & LEAVE THE SITUATION AT THIS POINT,
UNTIL PART TWO.
"Endorsed the path taken by the Chinese people",
that the Indian Communists replaced Ranadive with the Andhra
leader C.Rajeswar Rao, profusely apologising to Mao and praising
"New Democracy" as a model for India."
Harrison, Ibid. p.163-4.
THE ASSESSMENT OF THE MAOIST DISTORTION INTO THE STRUGGLES
IN COLONIAL TYPE COUNTRIES WILL BE ANALYSED IN RELATION TO INDIA FURTHER.
PART TWO WILL ALSO ANALYSE THE CLASS CHARACTER OF THE
INDIAN STATE, AFTER 1948.
PART TWO WILL ALSO EXAMINE THE MULTI-NATIONAL NATURE
OF INDIA, AND ITS' IMPLICATIONS FOR THE CURRENT STRUGGLES IN INDIA.
CONCLUSIONS OF THE PERIOD UP TO 1948.
1. There were two wings of the Indian bourgeoisie. One
had already capitulated to imperialism by 1925. The other had some progressive
role for it left.
2. However unless the Communists had an independent stand
and pushed from the left in a united principled front, the revolutionary
wing would also tend to collapse.
3. In the event of a significant mass movement developing,
even greater was the tendency of even the revolutionary bourgeoisie to
shrink from the final hurdles.
4. A class coalition of the Marwari Pan-Indian national
bourgeoisie and the comprador bourgeoisie, and the landlord class had taken
control of the Indian state after the reactionary Partition of India.
5. By 1947, Dyakov proposed a three class strategy against
capitalism in India, seeing no future progressive role for the bourgeoisie.
6. Since the Pan Indian Marwari class was now in power,
and obstructed progress to the Democratic stage, they can no longer be
a class ally of the Indian workers and peasants. But the developing regional
national bourgeoisie, themselves oppressed by Pan- Indian bourgeoisie can
be a temporary ally of the Indian workers and peasants.
7. The CPI fell into disastrous turn after turn. In all
its turns, it was led away from the correct Marxist-Leninist strategy of
class alliances in the colonial type countries led by the working class.
8. At the end of 1948, there was not a revolutionary situation.
The adventurist turn of the CPI under Ranadive, and encouraged by the Yugoslavs
was an error.
9. The CPI had capitulated to distortion of the National
Question in India, laying the ground for future disastrous errors here.
10. The beginning of the incorrect turns can be directly
traced to the hands of the clique around Kuusinen, Manuilsky, and Dmitrov.
They sabotaged the Comintern and overturned a correct understanding and
implementation of the United Front.
THE SWINGS FROM ULTRA-LEFT TO RIGHT TO ADVENTURISM,
HAD LEFT THE WORKING CLASS AT THE MERCY OF THE NEW RULING
COALITION OF INDIA.
ONCE MORE, INCORRECT THEORY HAD ALLOWED HUGE PRACTICAL
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