Is there a Charu Mazumdar Thought ?
This is one of the most important question in the world today. Is there a Charu Mazumdar Thought ? Did the Indian revolution, in the 1960's, produce a guiding Thought, through a revolutionary leader who understood the nature of the Indian society?
Nowadays, the Indian revolutionaries say no, as they reject the principle itself of guiding Thought. Is this correct? Let's look at it, as it is, on this 21th of September, the tenth anniversary of the foundation of the the Communist Party of India (Maoist).
Mazumdar and the CPI (ML)
The date chosen for the foundation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) – CPI (ML) was the 22th of April 1969, because Lenin was born on the 22th of April, 1870.
The CPI (ML) was practically directly born from Mazumdar's struggle in the Communist Party of India (Marxist), giving birth to the “All India Co-ordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries” and then the CPI (ML).
In this struggle, Mazumdar wrote numerous documents to propose a revolutionary line whose expression was mainly the revolutionary organ “Liberation”.
How is a guiding thought to be defined?
To understand if there is a Mazumdar Thought, we must define the criteria of such a guiding thought.
A guiding thought is produced by a revolutionary leader understanding the social situation of his country and promoting a genuine revolutionary struggle -through a Party -, on a scientific basis and without compromise with revisionism.
It means that a revolutionary, in a given country, participates in the class struggle and through scientific works, understands the social contradictions, which he explains, organizing the avant-garde on these conceptions, paving the way for the people's war.
India in struggle and Mazumdar
As the revolutionary forming the guiding Thought participates in the class struggle, we have to see which struggles Mazumdar knew. Indeed, we find him in the Tebhaga peasant movement in 1946 and of course most famously in the Naxalbari peasant revolt in 1967.
Speaking about the Tebhaga movement, Mazumdar tells us, as a witness active in the underground:
“The participant peasants in this movement numbered about six million. It should be remembered that in the entire peasant movement this was a golden era. In the massiveness of the movement, in the intensity of emotions, in the expression of class hatred, this movement was the highest stage of class struggle.”
Speaking about the Naxalbari movement, Mazumdar explains:
“If the Naxalbari peasant struggle has any lesson for us, it is this: militant struggles must be carried on not for land, crops etc., but for the seizure of state power. It is precisely this that gives the Naxalbari struggle its uniqueness.”
The “Naxals” and the historic eight documents
This participation led Mazumdar to form the theoretical background of what would be known as the “Naxalite” movement. He organized the rupture with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) which became revisionist.
So, Mazumdar theorized what he thought would be the necessary way for the Indian revolution, notably in what are known as the “historic eight documents”: “Our Tasks in the Present Situation”, “Make the People’s Democratic Revolution Successful by Fighting Against Revisionism”, “What is the Source of the Spontaneous Revolutionary Outburst in India”, “Carry on the Struggle against Modern Revisionism”, “What Possibility the Year 1965 is Indicating?”, “The Main Task Today is the Struggle to Build up the True Revolutionary Party through Uncompromising Struggle against Revisionism”, “Take this Opportunity”, Carry Forward the Peasant Struggle by Fighting Revisionism”.
The nature of Mazumdar's writings
The content of Mazumdar's writings to be analyzed must be divided in four types:
* on one side:
- those dealing with armed struggle, in the spirit of the revolt of Naxalbari, and
- those dealing with the construction of the Party;
* on the other side:
- those dealing with the nature of the Indian society, and
- those dealing with the ideology as revolutionary guide.
The first aspect is related to the form of struggle, the second one to the infrastructure of the country.
India as a semi-feudal semi-colonial country
Mazumdar defends the point of view of dialectical materialism about India. According to him:
“The social system that exists in India is semi-feudal and semi-colonial. So the democratic revolution in this country means agrarian revolution. All the problems of India are related to this one task.”
This is the correct position explaining that India needs a New Democratic Revolution:
“Come, Comrades, let all toiling people unitedly prepare for armed struggle against this government under the leadership of the working class, on the basis of the programme of agrarian revolution. On the other hand, let us lay the foundation of the New People's Democratic India by building liberated peasant areas through peasant revolts.”
The agrarian revolution
The question is here: did Mazumdar formulate the path for this agrarian revolution? Yes, he did it. He analyzed the Indian society and proposed a way to follow. Here is how he explains it:
“Agrarian revolution is the task of this very moment; this task cannot be left undone, and without doing this, nothing good can be done for the peasants.
But before carrying out agrarian revolution, destruction of State power is necessary. Striving for agrarian revolution without destruction of State power means outright revisionism. So, destruction of State power is today the first and principal task of peasant movement.
If this cannot be done on a country-wide, State-wide basis, will the peasants wait silently? No, Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought has taught us that if in any area the peasants can be roused politically, then we must go ahead with the task of destroying State power in that area. This is what is known as peasants' liberated area.
The struggle for building up this liberated area is the most urgent task of the peasant movement today, a task of this moment. What shall we call a liberated area ? We shall call that peasant area liberated from which we have been able to overthrow the class enemies. For building up this liberated area we need the armed force of the peasants. When we speak of the armed force we have in mind the arms made by the peasants. So also we want arms.”
Armed struggle as central task
As the agrarian revolution needs the destruction of the state, then the position of Mazumdar is, in itself, the one of armed struggle. For him, it is clear that:
“We are still unable to realize that in the present era we cannot build up peaceful mass movements. For, the ruling class will not give us and is not giving us either, such an opportunity.”
And despite this:
“There are some comrades who get scared at the mentioning of armed struggles, and go on seeing the spectre of adventurism.”
According to Mazumdar, the only logical consequence of all of this is that:
“If we can realize the truth that the Indian revolution will invariably take the form of civil war, the tactic of area-wise seizure of power can be the only tactic. The tactic of seizure of power of China is the only tactics. The tactic which was adopted by China's Great Leader Comrade Mao Tsetung — the same tactic should be adopted by the Indian Marxists.”
This is not all. The key position of Mazumdar in his affirmation of armed struggle is the politics of annihilation. This is very particular to him; at the beginning of the 1970's, the politics of annihilation was Mazumdar's thought in itself.
Here is how he explains his conception:
“All types of movements have to be carried on at all ages; but the form of the main movement depends on the ruling class. The present feature of our age is that the government is fighting every movement by violent attacks. So for the people, the armed resistance movement has appeared as the most important necessity. So in the interest of mass movements, the call should be given to the working class, the fighting peasantry and every fighting people: (1) Take to arms; (2) Form armed units for confrontation; (3) Politically educate every armed unit.
Not to give this call means pushing without any consideration the unarmed masses to death. The ruling class wants that, for in this way they can break the strength of mind of the fighting masses. The agitated masses today attack railway stations, police stations, etc. Innumerable agitations are bursting forth upon government buildings, or on buses, trams and trains.
This is like that Luddites' agitation against machines. The revolutionaries will have to give conscious leadership; strike against the hated bureaucrats, against police employees, against military officers; the people should be taught — repression is not done by police stations, but by the officers in charge of police stations; attacks are not directed by government buildings or transport, but by the men of the government's repressive machinery, and against these men that our attacks are directed.
The working class and the revolutionary masses should be taught that they should not attack merely for the sake of attacking, but should finish the person whom they attack. For, if they attack only, the reactionary machinery will take revenge. But if they annihilate, everyone of the government's repressive machinery will be panic-stricken.”
The battle of annihilation
Annihilation is not only a decisive tactic – it's the strategy, Mazumdar's thought in itself. Annihilation is considered as the principle in itself of class struggle. Mazumdar says:
“Without class struggle — the battle of annihilation — the initiative of the poor peasant masses cannot be released, the political consciousness of the fighters cannot be raised, the new man cannot emerge, the peoples army cannot be created.
Only by waging class struggle — the battle of annihilation — the new man will be created, the new man who will defy death and will be free from all thoughts of self interest. And with this death defying spirit he will go close to the enemy, snatch his rifle, avenge the martyrs and the peoples army will emerge.
To go close to the enemy it is necessary to conquer all thought of self. And this can be achieved only by the blood of martyrs. That inspires and creates new men out of the fighters, fill them with class hatred and makes them go close to the enemy and snatch his rifle with bare hands.”
And this is universal:
“The annihilation of the class enemy — this weapon in our hands — is the greatest danger of the reactionaries and revisionists all the world over.”
The militarized Party
The consequence of Mazumdar's conception was that the CPI (ML) was a militarized Party operating from the underground. The primary task of the cadres was armed struggle.
Mazumdar explains here:
“The meaning of the Party Activist Groups today is that they will be "combat units". Their main duty will be political propaganda campaign and to strike against counter-revolutionary forces.
We should always keep in mind Mao Tsetung's teaching — "Attacks are not for the sake of attacking merely, attacks are for annihilating only". Those who should be attacked are mainly: (1) the representatives of the state machinery like police, military officers; (2) the hated bureaucracy; (3) class enemies.
The aim of these attacks should also be the collection of arms. In the present age these attacks can be launched everywhere, in cities and in the countryside. Our special attention should be paid especially to peasant areas.”
For Mazumdar, the whole era was marked by armed struggle; he speaks of “the age of armed struggle”, he says: “Today, in the age of the revolutionary upsurge”. Because of this, he calls to voluntarism, to the spirit of sacrifice:
“Again and again the unrest among the peasants of India has burst forth. They have repeatedly sought guidance from the Communist Party. We have not told them that the politics of armed struggle and the gun-collection campaign constitute the only path. This path is the path of the working class, the path of liberation, the path of establishing a society free from exploitation.
In every State throughout India the peasants are today in a state of unrest, the Communists must show them the path.
That path is the politics of armed struggle and the gun-collection campaign. We must firmly uphold this one and only path of liberation.
The great cultural revolution of China has declared a war on all kinds of selfishness, group mentality, revisionism, tailism of the bourgeoisie, eulogy of bourgeois ideology--the blazing impact of that revolution has reached India also. The call of that revolution is--"Be prepared to resolutely make all kinds of sacrifices, remove the obstacles along the path one by one, victory shall be ours."
However terrible the appearance of imperialism, however ugly the snare laid by revisionism, the days of the reactionary forces are numbered, the bright sunrays of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung thought shall wipe off all darkness.”
Armed struggle as demarcation line
The consequence of Mazumdar's position was the rejection of revisionism of the CPI (Marxist), because this party pretended to launch the revolution one day, but did not engage in armed struggle.
Therefore, armed struggle became the criterion, the line of demarcation:
“It should be remembered always that if the words "Seizure of Political Power" are left out, the Party no longer remains a revolutionary Party. Although it will remain a revolutionary Party in name then, it will be actually reduced to a reformist party of the bourgeoisie.
When speaking of seizure of political power, some mean the Center. They think that with the gradual expansion of the limits of the movement, our only aim will be to capture power centrally. This thinking is not only wrong; this thinking destroys the correct revolutionary thinking within the party and reduces it to a reformist party.”
China's ideological help
The position of Mazumdar was well known by Red China, which supported it. This is what Mazumdar means when he says:
“That is why the international leadership has been reminding us time and again of the importance of building up a Party.”
Indeed, the Communist Party of China greeted fraternally both the CPI (ML) and Mazumdar. Building the Party was a task that had to happen quick; Mazumdar says:
“We must immediately take in hand the task of building such a party. It may not be possible right now to build up such a party on an all-lndia basis but that should not discourage us.
We must begin our work wherever we can build up such a party no matter how small that area may be. We must shed fears of being in the minority and advance with unshakable faith in the thought of the Chairman.”
The Party as condition for the higher stage of the revolution
The Indian revolution made indeed a great jump with the birth of the CPI (ML), because without it, the struggles would have been isolated. In a correct manner, in a position which is the one of the social-democracy historically as it was revolutionary, the Party is necessary to bring the movement to a higher stage:
“Revolutionary authority cannot grow if we depend only on the local initiatives for developing all these struggles along the same path and to a higher stage. As a result, the struggles will fail to develop to a higher stage. For taking these struggles forward it is necessary to build an all-India Party and a centre recognized by all revolutionaries. Self-imposed discipline is essential for building up this centre.”
And so, all the duties were interconnected :
“The main aim of our politics will be to establish consciously this armed struggle on mass base. The basic three points are, (i) Worker-peasant unity under the leadership of the working class. (ii) Consciously establishing armed struggle on mass base, and (iii) firmly establish the leadership of the Communist Party. It is imperative not to leave aside any of these three tasks.”
Building of the Party as the key
The conclusion of the inter-connection of the tasks is that the building of the Party is the main aspect to evaluate the level of the Indian revolution.
“The future of the revolution depends on how quickly we can build Party organizations among our classes during this period. On this will depend whether we shall be able to lead this revolutionary upsurge or not.
It may be that this upsurge will take place during the coming struggle to seize the crops. Let the revolutionary intellectuals come forward and help build the revolutionary party by spreading and propagating the thought of Chairman Mao among the workers and peasants.”
“Our cardinal tasks, therefore, are: to build up the Party and to get it entrenched among the landless and poor peasants. The building up of the Party means the development of the armed class struggle. And without armed class struggle the Party cannot be developed and cannot entrench itself among the masses.”
Mazumdar's thought considered as reflection of Mao Zedong's Thought
When explaining all of this, Mazumdar considered only that he was saying again the conception of Mao Zedong. Mazumdar tries to be the most disciplined activist and he affirms Mao Zedong's thought as thought to follow :
“We must ceaselessly propagate the politics of agrarian revolution and the thought of Chairman Mao among the working class.”
“The Quotations of People's War published by the Central Committee of the great Communist Party of China is now available with us, a Bengali translation of which has also been published. This book is meant for revolutionary workers and peasants. We should make this our propaganda and agitation material. Whether a worker is revolutionary or not will be judged on the basis of the number of workers and peasants to whom he has read out and explained this book.”
“The political organization of the youth and the students must necessarily be a Red Guard organization, and they should undertake the task of spreading the Quotations of Chairman Mao as widely as possible in different areas.”
Here we find the key. Mazumdar was recognizing the universal aspect of Mao Zedong's contributions. He was in fact both doing this and forming a thought – a thought that he thought was Mao Zedong's one, and not his own.
That's why he can say :
“The People's Democratic Revolution in our country can be led to a victorious end only on the basis of the thought of Chairman Mao. The extent to which one assimilates and applies the thought of the Chairman will determine whether one is a revolutionary or not.
Moreover, the extent of the revolutionary upsurge will depend on how widely we can spread and propagate the Chairman's thought among the peasants and workers. This is because the Chairman's thought is not merely the Marxism-Leninism of the present era, the Chairman has advanced Marxism-Leninism itself to a completely new stage. That is why the present era has become the era of the Chairman's thought.”
Mazumdar's and Mao Zedong's thoughts – united abstractly
The consequence of Mazumdar's not understanding of both side of the question – his thought as Indian national expression and as application of universal Maoism, brought an ideological confusion, all the aspects being mixed.
This is clear when Mazumdar says :
“In the present era, Chairman Mao's thought is the highest development of Marxism-Leninism. Chairman Mao has not only creatively applied Marxism-Leninism but has enriched Marxism-Leninism and developed it to a new stage. Mao Tse-tung's thought can be called the Marxism-Leninism of the era in which imperialism is heading for total collapse and socialism is advancing towards world-wide victory.
Chairman Mao has taught us that in a semi-feudal, semi-colonial country, peasants constitute the majority of the population and that the peasantry is exploited and ruled by three mountains, namely, imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. This is why the peasants are extremely eager to make revolution. Therefore, the proletariat must rely on the peasants in order to achieve victory through People's War.
Chairman Mao has taught us that the peasants are the main force of the revolution and victory in the revolution depends on arousing and arming the peasant masses. It is the duty of the revolutionary party of the proletariat to go to the peasant masses and painstakingly work among them for a long period with a view to building up areas of armed struggle in the countryside.
Failure to realize the importance of this peasant question gives rise to "Left" and Right deviations within the party. And democratic revolution is primarily an agrarian revolution. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the proletariat to provide leadership in this agrarian revolution.”
This is both universal and Indian.
Mazumdar's Thought exists: the synthesis
Therefore, we must say that there is a Mazumdar thought, synthesized in the following position :
“In India, which is now like a volcano, the revolt of the peasant masses can be victorious only by successfully applying the thought of Chairman Mao, that is, by rousing the peasant masses with the politics of seizure of power and thus enabling them, under the leadership of workers and poor and landless peasants, to participate actively in carrying forward the agrarian revolution; by driving out the class enemies from the countryside by means of guerrilla struggle, expanding such areas and establishing liberated zones; by building up a people's army from among the armed guerrilla groups and by encircling the cities from the countryside and finally capturing them.
Only thus can India be liberated. So the rebellious masses in every area must follow this road to achieve victory.”
The failings of Mazumdar's thought
There is of course a bad consequence in the non-understanding of the double aspect of Mazumdar, who was on one side Plekhanov bringing Marxism and Lenin formulating it in a given country.
It was easy, indeed, for leftism to move in the sense of applicating a Chinese template, moving away from the Indian society. This is what happened for a part, India was considered as China before 1949 and that was all.
We must here notice that, unfortunately, there are no documents of Mazumdar as such dealing with the superstructure of the country.
We don't find in Mazumdar's works a materialist explanation of Hinduism, Indian literature and movies, or poetry, whose history is so rich, etc.
This comes from the non-understanding of both aspects of his thought, and unfortunately the confusion brought militarism, a huge Bengali youth mass movement trying to be “red guards” before being crushed with violence in a massive scale, and finally the entire collapse of the CPI (ML).
Mazumdar himself was arrested on July 16, 1972, tortured for ten days isolated from the world, before dying on July 28, 1972. The CPI (ML) collapsed soon afterwards, with many split groups appearing.
The question of Mazumdar's legacy was of course central, with the principle of annihilation as the main debate. In the 1960's-1970's, to be for annihilation meant to be with Mazumdar, to reject it was to reject him, either as leader of the CPI (ML), or outside of it, and then against both the CPI (ML) and Mazumdar.
Since the 1970's and until today, there are many currents pretending to uphold the CPI (ML) from the 1970's in a way or another, but rejecting Mazumdar's line as “leftist”. Those people say that the armed struggle was separated from the mass movement, that it was militarist, leftist, a blind copy of China's democratic revolution, etc.
Already at the time of Mazumdar, some people around Kanhai Chatterji formed the Maoist Communist Center, rejecting annihilation under this same pretext of a separation of the peasant struggle.
Today, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) upholds both Mazumdar and Chatterji.
Mazumdar's thought and India
But it is not possible to uphold both Mazumdar and Chatterji at the same level. If at their time, two parties existed, it was for a good reason, it is not possible to evacuate this question. Still, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) has no position about it.
The reason for this is that the logical conclusion that should happen is to recognize Mazumdar's thought and to separate the universal aspect and the Indian aspects.
This would permit to understand the real process of the birth of the CPI (ML), to see how Mazumdar reactivated dialectical materialism in India.
Instead of this, Mazumdar's “leftism” is forgotten, as his requirement to have a perspective from the top, and therefore the national aspects are erased: as astonishing as it can seem, the Indian Maoists have no study about Hinduism, Islam and Bollywood. The Indian culture is not a topic – and this is the missing aspect which permitted Modi's fascist propaganda to have such a terrible success in India.