Are the Indian Communists (Marxists) trying to embrace Loksatta agenda? A good sign for India.This is exactly the feel after reading these lines from Dipankar Gupta’s article "Sitaram Yechury Reloaded":Apr 25 2015 : TOI (Hyderabad)To be Marxist or to be communist, that is the question That is the question for Sitaram Yechury as he takes over from Prakash Karat the post of CPM general secretary .Yechury is clearly aware of this dilemmaThis exercise led him to believe that his party's future lay not in “class struggle“, but in meeting youth aspirations.To do this with best results ¬ focussing on health and education ¬ must receive top priority , he argued.If he succeeds, this could well become the Yechury model for parting the waters for CPM. Communists have done themselves to death by denial. Their general secretaries are not supposed to ever admit they were wrong; it is just that people have not understood them right.The phrase “class struggle“, so central to communist speak, is of little use in a democracy. Give them a czar, a warlord or foreign occupier and the communists can wade right through them with their hammer, sickle and perhaps an automatic weapon. Class struggle sits well with conspiracy and cabal of the Leninist kind, but is dysfunctional in a democracy.Indian communists had, in practice, all but abandoned class war, but still hung on to the romance of an “armed struggle“. This obsession showed up in a near comical fashion when Ajoy Bhawan, the CPI headquarters in Delhi, was built in 1970. As the architect, Cyrus Jhabwala, had neither designed a secret escape route, nor a battlement, some party workers despaired at their options in the event of a fascist armed attack. Yechury is different. As the Uncle Sam apparition does not scare him, he reportedly opposed his party's withdrawal from UPA-I on account of the India-US nuclear pact. It did not even take time to stir, history instantly proved him right! In this connection it is worth recalling that Marx was against the setting up of a communist party and he said this, of all places, in the Manifesto of the Communist Party . One possible explanation is that he did not want revolutionaries to get into a tight knot, appropriate ideological authority and act like any other vested interest group. Yet, he was nowhere nearly as unambiguous on this point as his friend and collaborator Friedrich Engels was in his famous “Introduction“ to Class Struggles in France. After a study of the “concrete content“ of the post-Bonapartist period, Engels plainly stated that democracy had made armed struggle obsolete. In his view, properly coordinated “legal action“ of the workers' party was far more effective than any amount of “illegal action“.To think along these lines may seem distant from the way communists usually think, but the fault lies with them and not with their classics. If you do not believe this, take a look at the concluding section of Chapter 2 of the Manifesto.Here Marx pointedly advocates for universal education, for progressive income tax and for the eventual erasure of the town-country distinction.Interestingly many social democrats, the world over, quickly walked away with these ideas. Yet, strangely enough, traditional communists ignored such issues, waiting instead for the revolution to come first. Land to the tiller“ has remained a war cry among communists till this say , as if they still cherish the “town-country difference“.In addition, it is impossible to ignore the tremendous surge in rural non-farm employment. While at the all India level, 32.1% of rural occupations were non-farm in 2010, it was as high as 47.3 % in West Bengal. According to the National Sample Survey , only Kerala ranked higher with a figure of 64.3%.
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