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Beyond politics? Rediscovering Lenin: How communism in India can become movement

By NS Venkataraman* 

Nearly a century has gone after Vladimir Lenin,  who was the initiator and doyen of communist movement in the world,  passed away.  The dream of Lenin to usher in a world led by working class, that would have no exploitation and total equality have gone for a toss.  Why has this happened? Who is responsible for this? Has communism collapsed under its own weight?
Voice of the toiling and much exploited working class  were heard loudly for the first time in the world,  when Karl Marx gave the clarion  call that  “workers in the world have nothing to lose except the chain”.
Vladimir Lenin was a staunch follower of Karl Marx and he broadly tuned his thought process based on Karl Marx philosophy.  It can be said that Lenin somewhat modified the advocacy of Karl Marx  and  took forward the working class movement based on, what he  perceived  as democratic centralism led by the working class.
As the revolutionary working class movement was gaining strength under the guidance of Lenin,  Soviet Union under the leadership  of Lenin became  a one party socialist  state governed by the communist party (the Bolsheviks ultimately became the Communist part Party of Soviet Union).

Collapse of communism started in Stalin  era

When Lenin passed away due to a debilitating stroke in January, 1924,  the communist party went under the control of Stalin   in Soviet Russia.
The rise of Stalinism under  Joseph Stalin, resulted in  a situation,   where  the state virtually substituted itself for the working class. The Stalin regime was marked by repression,  rigorous state control and  denial of rights for people including those belonging to working class, for whom the communist movement was originally launched and progressed. 
What Karl Marx and Lenin wanted  was much different from what happened under Stalin’s leadership in Soviet Russia and in subsequent period in several so called communist countries including China and Cuba. 
Certainly,  Karl Marx and Lenin should   have turned in their grave,  as they  would  have felt very angry and  upset about   the misuse  of their advocacy   with regard  to the progressive and welfare oriented working class movement,  by Stalin and other leaders of communist parties in  different countries in subsequent years.
One can say with reasonable confidence that the communist movement caused by Marx and  Lenin  lost all its shape and style and consequently lost its momentum and finally the communist governments collapsed in several countries including in Russia and erstwhile Soviet Union.
Perhaps, only two countries today claim to have  communist government namely China and Cuba, which is a false claim.

Scenario in China, Cuba

The so called communist government in China today  has no iota of  communist philosophy in it’s functioning style and  at best,  can be described as a government run by coterie of so called “people or working class representatives”.  It is virtually a dictatorship form of governance where state is controlled by a closely knit team that constantly struggle to protect the power by  hook or crook  against another team.
There is no doubt that China has achieved extraordinary level of technological and industrial progress  and is claiming a super power status now.  But, this has not happened by   strictly following the philosophy of communism  which has the self emancipation of the working class at its core. 
On the other hand, the so called  communist government in China has liberally adopted the capitalist methods and the industrial infrastructure and other projects in China are much led and guided by private sector and multinational companies and  share of  participation of state in such economic  activities are steadily declining.
The communist philosophy calls  for  “land for the peasants  and bread for the workers”, that would lead to taking into social ownership of all forms of wealth and properties   and introduce economic reforms rooted in socialist principle of cooperation and equality.  Lenin certainly wanted   to ensure personal freedom  for the people  that would challenge the various forms of oppression. 
As a movement wedded to the philosophy of fighting against exploitation, there is a clear goal for communists in India
What is happening in the so called communist China is one hundred percent against such advocacy of communist philosophy echoed by Lenin.
Today’s Chinese government is doing great damage to the glorious philosophy enunciated by Karl Marx and Lenin by claiming itself to be a communist government and totally acting against the philosophy of communism, as understood by devoted and convinced communists all over the world.
Situation  with regard to communist movement in Cuba is no better than in China. 

Scenario in India 

After independence,  India had the  glorious opportunities to promote and practice communist philosophy  at its best,  particularly under the leadership of towering personality like EMS Namboodripad,   who could understand and explain the   core communist philosophy in its true sense.
Unfortunately, the communist movement in India appears to have lost its sense of direction after the glorious time of EMS Namboodripad by converting itself to be a  mere hate brigade against capitalism   instead of strengthening the working class movement and its inherent strength and power. 
Unfortunately, the Communist Party of India was led so badly that it came to be identified with tactics like ghero and violent strategies and coercion to brow beat the promoters and managers of industrial and commercial centres.   In the process, communists in India lost the race to   those who advocated democratic socialism as against the “oppressive” communism.
Communists in India have split under various nomenclatures without any reason or justification,  perhaps, due to ego centric leaders.
Today,  it appears that  communism has lost its sheen in India and is unable to stand on its own based on the strength of communist philosophy and the standards of original thought leaders like Karl Marx and Lenin.
Lenin   wanted  that the working class must move ahead to   achieve social revolution. 
After independence, communists in India  had the glorious opportunity to get into power and achieve social revolution by participating in the democratic process and contesting in  democratic elections. In such process, some sort of success  was achieved by EMS Namboodripad and Joti Basu,  well acknowledged communist leaders in the country.
However, after such success, in the subsequent days, instead of seeking votes on the basis of communist philosophy in election and waiting for its time by building the party,  communist parties in India are reducing themselves  by seeking alliance with parties,   some of which  have corrupt  and feudal type of dynastic and communal  leadership.  In such conditions, communists do not seem to be convincing when they talk about core value of communist philosophy. 
The core value of communist philosophy still remain highly relevant in India.
The level of political and administrative corruption in the country  are creating a scenario, where the results of welfare measures are not reaching the people, particularly those in the lower income group.
During the time of Karl Marx and Lenin, the capitalists  were  exploiting the people. Today, in India,  the corrupt forces are exploiting the people. 
As a movement wedded to the philosophy of fighting against exploitation, there is a clear goal for communists in India to root out corruption in the political, private and public life.  They can attain power in democratic elections to spread social revolution, by taking up the anti corruption cause with full force at their command.
Today, Indian communist movement needs a   leader  who could be a worthy successor  to  Lenin.
---
*Trustee, Nandini Voice For The Deprived, Chennai

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