A Critical Appraisal Of Shibdas Ghosh’s ‘Cultural Revolution Of China’November 1, 2022
Polemics | SUCI and Cultural Revolution
(A Reprint from SCIENTIFIC SOCIALISM (A Marxist-Leninist Theoretical Journal))
SUCI, since its inception in 1948, was critical of Stalin and took a line against the then Cominform when Stalin was leading it and the world communist movement. Before throwing light on his famous article ”On Cultural Revolution of China”, let us see what he thought of Khrushchev and Stalin. We find in his selected volume one an article on Stalin’s Cult in which late Shibdas Ghosh lauds the merit of the steps taken by ‘comrade’ Khrushchev against Stalin. He writes –
“It is also admitted that in the later part of Stalin’s life this non-Marxist cult grew, developed and dominated in the party life. It is equally true that it has done incalculable harm to the communist movement. There can be no disagreement with Khrushchev and other leaders of the CPSU in so far as these points are concerned; but at the same time, we cannot but say that no serious attempt from any quarter has yet been made to bring to light the root cause of the cult of the individual.” (Emphases in bold added)
So, Mr. Ghosh is in complete agreement with ‘comrade’ Khrushchev on the points where Stalin is abused! Does he also differ from him, too? Yes, he does. He is not in agreement with Khrushchev on the question of ‘the root cause’ of Stalin’s cult.
So, he first kills the goose and later has a feast to celebrate it!
In the whole piece, Shibdas Ghosh nowhere takes pain to describe what he meant by ‘the negative qualities of Stalin’, nor does he point out anyone of them. He just goes on and on prating such things while declaring solicitously to serve the communist movement by setting out to disclose the secret – ‘the root cause of the cult’ and thus providing means to eradicate it completely from the communist movement. These utterances are quite hypocritical as such wisdom of his nowhere shines through the piece.
He also feels himself liberated by the fall of Stalin. It was not possible for him to feel so ‘under the then (Stalin’s time) atmosphere of all pervading influence of the cult of the individual in general and that of Stalin in particular…’
He continues – ‘It is only now that the atmosphere has been freed of this blindness.’ (Bold added)
Not only this. His way of driving blows against Stalin shows his ingenious and crafty nature. On the one hand, he writes that Stalin’s cult had ‘pervading influence’ and done ‘incalculable harm to the communist movement’, on the other hand, he declares that he is against denouncing anyone! Why is against denouncing, while he denounces Stalin so openly? Is he still not feeling, even after the death of Stalin, that the atmosphere has been freed of pervading influence of Stalin’s cult?
The fact is however that he denounces everyone except himself. Shibdas Ghosh had long ago denounced Cominform for not promoting his pet theory of ‘‘Struggle and interaction’’ or ‘discussion in dialogue’ which replaces ”inner party struggle.” He had also criticised Cominform for ‘imposing mechanical centralization’. Actually, he stood for a party where he could have incessantly lectured his disciples throughout his life. In essence, he meant the working-class party not as the general head quarter of the armies of the proletariat where purging also takes place but as debating society where dialogue, discussion and interaction in the form of sermons can go on forever sans centralisation of party work.
But let us come on his understanding on China’s Cultural Revolution.
Shibdas Ghosh’s understanding of “Cultural Revolution”
Shibdas Ghosh displays the same crafty valour when he takes up the task of evaluating the Cultural Revolution. Let’s begin with a quote from his article on the Cultural Revolution of China.
“…Instead of purging through inner-party struggle those who are engaged, according to the leadership of the CPC, in anti-party activities, the CPC has adopted the method of openly involving the whole people in such a gigantic polemical struggle.” (SW, Cultural Revolution of China, Vol-1, emphasis in bold added).
First of all, the fact is that purging had taken place in Chinese communist party before and during the GPCR. It not, how was Liu Shio chi, Deng xiao pi and later Lin Biao and gang of four was removed from the party? So, what is Mr. Shibdas Ghosh trying to do by saying so? He is clearly using the prestige of GPCR (wrong or right is another matter) to drive home his own pet theory of ”dialogue in discussion”, unlimited so far as the course of life of such a thing is concerned, in place of ”inner party struggle’ ‘and occasional purging for which party is often forced. I doubt that even a staunchest Maoist will ever subscribe to this petty-bourgeois idea of defence of the Cultural Revolution. However, this is not true that it is only his pet theory. In reality this trend very well exists, though in fainted amounts, in the other sections of the movement, including those adhering to Maoism or Mao-tse-thought i.e., those that have been tutored against Stalin’s practice. I will come on this in another piece.
Our discussion in this essay is not whether the GPCR is right or wrong. It needs another rigorous discussion. Our question is about the way Mr. Ghosh approaches such an important question as the cultural revolution under the leadership of the working class in power, one that is bound by history to furnish its well-defined duties and successfully deliver as a socio-economic system as superior to capitalism. The point that there is and there can be no exact knowledge or blueprint of the measures to be taken by the working class and its party to pass through a number of serious and tortuous paths to successfully deliver, sends even a coarser warning that the working class cannot be expected to engage itself in a “discussion for dialogue” that allows the things to go out of control i.e., be a victim of anarchism and ultra-democracy. One must always remember that working class party is not a debating society, particularly not so when it is in power. It is the most important weapon of steering the working class and other toiling masses of the difficulties that come while practicing socialism while firmly adhering to Marxism-Leninism. The question of ”inner party struggle” and purging the communist party of alien elements and opportunists from within its own ranks emanates from here. It is a matter of queer surprise that Mr. Ghosh so openly despises Inner-Party Struggle and always prefers, whatever be the situation, open polemics involving millions of masses. Even his own central committee must not have been practicing this. Then what are his sermons for? It is to show that he is above all, more well versed than everyone, be it even our great teachers. That’s why SUCI was a party based more on the teachings of Shibdas Ghosh than those of Marx-Engels and Lenin, let alone Stalin and Mao.
To only see masses, chant revolutionary slogans and converge in thousands and lakhs and to feel drenched in enthusiasm by this in all times, (his teachings are said to be of universal character, that’s why in all times tag is being attached) while desisting from other mundane works is, however, not Marxism or Leninist at all. However, this is true that this kind of shade is found in Mao’s later day works and that’s why I don’t subscribe to a duty of speaking from the side of Mao’s position.
It is really an interesting thing to know that Shibdas Ghosh’s case is a very cleverly taken position. He advocates using a great historical event of the likes of GPCR to prove his petty bourgeois romantic theory. Such people have been present in plenty in the movement. It is another matter that if this is done while concealing the intent, it of course amounts to a non-sense. Replacing ”inner party struggle” means replacing Leninist practice of achieving unity of party actions through democratic centralism, which is but proletarian centralism and nothing else.
What he advocates as universal teaching is that every time when some poisonous weeds appear in the party, we must resort to open polemics like that of GPCR involving millions of masses as a means to cleanse and get rid of those poisonous weeds. These are high-sounding words spoken to show his pretentions of being an original thinker. behind which non-sensical things appear to be working. To say it mildly, this replaces Leninism and Leninist principles of party building and practice.
On basis of such an understanding, he declares-
“I hold that this Cultural Revolution has a sound scientific basis, judged by the yardstick of Marxism-Leninism, and the way the CPC is conducting this Revolution is really magnificent.”
It is not a stuff that anyone can accept. The pretention is that what he says is of universal character judged by the yardstick of Marxism-Leninism. Does he examine how it had the same sound scientific basis as Marxism-Leninism? Nowhere does he take pains to do this. Interestingly enough, all such exercises, knowingly or unknowingly, presupposes that “this most urgent and indispensable task of Cultural Revolution was neglected in the Soviet Union” as he says. But, will such people ever realise that the achievements made under the leadership of Stalin were even of greater importance that not only established material superiority of Socialism over Capitalism-Imperialism, but also represented a particular high level of cultural development of the working class which no socialist could achieve, let alone Mao’s China. Can anyone stand up and say that the working class of Mao’s China was culturally more advanced than Stalin’s USSR on any account? Let me say, I am waiting.
We shall however talk about a little later as to what we should and should mean by cultural development in a socialist society. But, one thing can be clearly said right now that without a development of material conditions of life of working class and a corresponding development of a higher level of social organisation of society in every field, cultural development will be condemned to remain confined to the arena of mind i.e., mental status i.e., a utopia. But this is not Marxism.
Mr. Ghosh talks of the rise of individualism and other shades of bourgeois opportunism and hence the urgent need of the CPC to fight as one of the reasons to launch the Cultural Revolution. But, then he does not at all understand the process of appearance or disappearance of egoism and individualism. He can be accused of dealing with a question which he seldom tries seriously to understand and explain. Although, he solicitously declares to help the communist movement overcome the problem of individual cult.
Let us directly go to a quote from an article of Scientific Socialism (henceforth SS) written by me in 2004 to get an exposition of Marx’s and Engles’ view on the question of individuality and ways to eradicating it.
“(It has been many times forgotten by many of our leaders including Chinese leaders that) idea, thought, culture and morality etc. have had no independent history of their own and hence contradiction between egoism (individualism) and selfishness, collectivity and individuality etc. pertaining to the domain of culture and ideology could not be dissolved merely in the men’s brain alone. Only with the development of material production and the resulting higher forms of men’s material intercourse will men’s thinking and the product of their thinking will change for they are nothing but the “ideological reflexes and echoes” of the men’s real-life processes. This is the Marxist teaching. In Maoism or Mao-thought, the active side of Marxism supersedes everything else…taking one side of Marxism and pulling it over and over again. So that it finally turns non-dialectical, non-materialist and hence non-Marxist.”
Again, SS writes-
“Till the time mankind ushers in communism and finally crosses the narrow horizon of bourgeois rights, the contradiction will remain with little more collectivity every time when a step forward is taken towards communism. At the same time, individuality loses its validity materially more and more, and we will have little less individuality every time as mankind materially progresses towards communism. When a condition really arrives materially so that we can completely do away with individuality, of course materially, then collectivity, selflessness etc. will also become immaterial.”
So, the contradiction between individuality and collectivity isn’t anti-thetical to each other i.e., is a seeming contradiction. One doesn’t exclude the other on its own. It appears as contradiction due to presence of capitalist relations so individual interests appear opposed to collective interest.
The task before us is to understand the process of disappearance of the contradiction between egoism, selfishness and individuality on the one hand and selflessness and collectivity on the other as a historical process i.e., as something which is inalienably and materially bound with the historical process of the formation of classes which themselves are conditioned by real premises and which followed one another in the human history.
At this juncture, we may all agree that the materially arranged (systematic) chain of classes that have appeared up till now in human history has come to its final link i.e., the proletariat which, as a result of its historical position, ensures the possibility of abolition of “subsuming of individuals under definite classes” (Marx’s words). Marx says that with the communist revolutions, the rule of classes along with the classes themselves will be abolished and that “the proletariat no longer counts as a class in society” and “is in itself the expression of the dissolution of all classes, nationalities” and that “it has no longer any particular class interest to assert in the real sense of the term.”
Let me quote a paragraph from SS author here about it-
“When such a class (the proletariat) is in the driving seat of society and reshapes it in its own image, it is conditioned by the material premises (the capital funds, the level of productive forces, the materials and of course the natural as well as geographical and other conditions) and fulfils its historical mission while, on the one hand, acting in “completely changed circumstances and, on the other, modifying the old circumstances with a completely changed activity” – as Marx says. The rise to power of the proletariat is the very basis of the very unique evolutionary phase of ‘Man’ which marks the departure of ‘Man’ from his earlier evolutionary phases. Those earlier phases of ‘Man’ were but the subordinate varieties of ‘Man’ i.e., they were not men, rather, they were classes, estates etc. like those subordinate varieties of ‘Man’ i.e., the individuals that have remained subsumed in different classes in the class divided society.” These are all Marx’s words.
”So, the rise to power of proletariat is very important as it materially makes possible for the proletarian ‘class’ interests (not in the sense that other classes mean) to become the general interests of the whole mankind in the due course of time i.e., when there will be no more classes, even when the class of peasants as a proletarian-friendly and socialist class no more exists and is completely elevated to the position of the proletariat, of course, voluntarily.”
When Shibdas Ghosh forays into all types of solicitously cooked up issues in his desperate attempt to justify his hypocritical formulations regarding the main causes that the CPC looked forward to and based itself upon while launching the Cultural Revolution, he never stumbles upon any of the Marxist formulations or understanding by which his high-sounding promises could be justified. He touches, let alone what he grasps, the question of Cultural Revolution only with the angle of petty-bourgeois romanticism and gets instantly inspired by slogan shouting masses in millions and sees no other things.
Of course, the question of how to approach the Cultural Revolution under a working-class regime is lot more vexing. It requires more than common sense to deliver a fruitful discussion or “discussion in dialogue” (as SUCI friends would like to call it). Shibdas Ghosh, the ideological patron of SUCI, talks about the self-complacency of the Soviet (Stalin’s) leadership so freely without any sense of history that one is but surprised by his boldness. Let us see how he does it.
“Naturally, when after the socialist revolution it was necessary to further intensify class struggle, when the practice of proletarian culture ought to have been further heightened, when it was indispensable to keep uninterrupted this practice and the process of struggle in order to uplift the standard of proletarian revolutionary character against the infiltration of the influence of the bourgeois ideology and culture into the party and the social life, when it was necessary to hold aloft the banner of Cultural Revolution in order to raise the cultural and political standard of the people to conform to the needs of each and every change of the character of the socialist productive system, the fact that this struggle got slackened due to the self-complacent attitude of the Soviet leadership after the attainment of some stability in the social system following revolution, actually led to this inevitable fall of political and cultural standard and provided the breeding ground for revisionism. Whether the CPC explained all these points so elaborately and lucidly in support of their program of the Cultural Revolution, is not the point.’’ (Ibid, italics added)
So, Mao also melts away by the shine of Mr. Ghosh’s wisdom. This is not any worthy criticism of Mao. It is on his part craftiness and ingenuity, simple and straight. One can easily see Mr. Ghosh’s proud boast despite which he is as miserable as ever before. In his self-opinionated drive, he loses all sense of history. Who else than a big head can talk like this about the ‘Stalinist’ Soviet Union where every battle was fought till the last and in the most proletarian manner under the leadership of Lenin and later Stalin. This is a true case of a man getting too big for his boots. It is as if there is no other way to defend the Cultural Revolution than to criticize the then Soviet leadership! This is pitiable and shows hollowness of thought.
One more act of self-delusion of his is one in which he wants to have us believe that one of the most important aspects warranting Cultural Revolution was the need of uniting the whole country as ‘one man’ and on the basis of this firm understanding of the ideological and political unity, he says, China declared “No power on this Earth can destroy China.” (Page 208, ibid)
All right, but, the least of the big questions about you and cultural revolutions of China that you must answer is this: To defend China, why at all do you pour heaps of scorn on Soviet leadership under which such an act of the greatest valour and sacrifice Soviet people had already performed in the second World War? What do you have to say about those unbelievable sacrifices that the soviet people had to make to halt the German advance. If a Cultural Revolution of the type Mr. Ghosh likes is what is at all needed for this, then, how come, the USSR did all that? Does he have any reply? Perhaps, he is confused because he does not hear such valorous statement from Stalin and does not see thousands and lakhs of people converging daily at Red Square shouting revolutionary slogans and chanting super revolutionary mantras, nor does he come across such a “discussion in dialogue” as Cultural Revolution that he would like to have taken place in the Soviet Union!
What a non-sensical understanding of history! That too by a man who promises to help the movement get the problem of cult of individual eradicated forever.
Let’s see another gem in his piece-
“Moreover, the Chinese leaders do also find that with the relatively growing economic stability and advancement of the society as well as with the increasing material wellbeing, individualism of a new variety is growing in the mental make-up of the individual. This new trend of individualism manifested itself in a socialist society”. (Page-209)
But just a few pages earlier, he says something which contradicts the essence and the reason he tries to have us believe as to what is the possible reason for the continued presence of bourgeois opportunism in Chinese society. Let me quote-
“Moreover, the transition to socialism in Chinese society is taking place relatively peacefully, despite the turmoil you feel from outside. The internal contradiction is, no doubt, relatively peaceful.” (Page-203, emphasis added)
What does he do to make do with such inner contradictions is unthinkable for a simple person like me? But does he analyze this phenomenon? No, not at all. Does he take any proper clue from this for his further explanation of the cultural revolution? No, not at all, again. Then what is it for? It is just for the same reason to prove that “the tendency of individualism and various shades of opportunism are growing among the party members and the people…. bourgeois, petty bourgeois, and even feudal ideas and norms of behavior are infiltrating the party life.” (Page- 202-203). Hence the need for a cultural Revolution! The present piece is full of such things and he goes to rattle on without any sense.
This much is not the end. What he says further is really a testimony to his self-opinionated character. He says-
“Ideological Struggle took place in Russia also. But there it remained confined within the party. Such a method of struggle, however, cannot remove the doubts and apprehension from the mass mind and touch it. Hence people cannot rally round the party as ‘one man’ on the basis of a clear and correct understanding. Even if they do so sometimes, they do it either under the overall impact of the leadership, or under duress or from a wrong notion, or not out of conscious but blind emotion for the party”. (ibid)
How does a man like Shibdas Ghosh who himself has remained throughout his life and even after his death the only and only authority of his Party, go on talking like this? Can he assure the world that everyone in his party understands him and his politics (leave Marxism, please!) hundred percent, and is as much wise as Mr. Ghosh himself? Are his cadres not emotionally attached with him, the great scholar? Are the masses that the SUCI leads conscious enough to pass the test of clear and correct understanding, the hallmark of Mr. Ghosh’s Cultural Revolution? Isn’t it then better for the SUCI to start an academy or a Gurukul with a signboard to educate and train for ever hundred percent communists? What a demagogy!
We know, even good communists of one time can fall prey, in another time, to deviation and turn a traitor if not corrected in time. Once a communist is not a guarantee of being a communist for all time to come. The only thing that can be best done to ensure this is that he must lead a constant inner fight and maintain a constant vigil by being objective and dialectical. Only this can guarantee a communist to remain a communist till the end of his life. Other gossips about it are only useless things. So far as the education of the masses is concerned, they also learn through their own experience as they have been educated from the time immemorial. Of course, the role of the party is unquestionably a central role.
It sometimes seems that his sense of history had completely failed, else he would not have talked that in Russia people were having apprehensions about the things taking place, and they were not conscious. And et al. Then how could they build socialism in a country where thousands and one problems and difficulties, the ones that also often occurred due to the traitors of Communism, always confronted and tested the mettle of the soviet people and leadership? Oh! Sorry, Mr. Ghosh does have an answer to it! Soviet people were emotional, he would say.
One is really surprised!
But, remember, it is not enough for you to justify your criticism of Stalin by such useless words. You better follow the same old imperialist trick according to which Soviet people were bullied by Stalin and his comrades! It is easier to stand a chance in the bosom of imperialism!
Those who have learned from the history of revolutions, better known that people at large participate in a revolution not by directly learning Marxism-Leninism, but by their devoted actions under the leadership of the vanguard of the revolution – the party in whose hands lie all the commands of the revolutionary actions. After all, a revolution is not a debate and a communist Party not a debating club. And also, it is not about all men exerting in all directions at the same time and hence the need of centralism is paramount in every type of revolution that human history has witnessed up till now. Of course, this is even more needed in Proletarian Revolution. But, even in the earliest human revolts, we can see an authority working at the top, a well-planned centre always in operation, amidst the hotch-potch of the stormy revolutionary actions during the last “wild” days.
Now when emotions and enthusiasm of the working class is so much under attack, let us have a short excursion into it to understand what does it really means in a socialist society in general and in the so-called Stalinist Soviet Socialism in particular.
The question of emotion of the working class for its vanguard party, leaders and for socialism is not something which should be criticized so long as it corresponds to the real situations and originates from the correct cognition of its tasks of fulfilling the historical mission of taking the whole society forward by overthrowing the rule of capital and monopoly capital. If the proletariat does not have emotions for its Party and its leaders, only under whose leadership the above tasks are to be carried out and the mission fulfilled, what will their emotions for? For the bourgeoisie? For their peddlers?
It is also a matter of being constantly sensitive to the party’s call at every critical juncture. There are times when ever-changing situations warrant quick and hasty decisions apart from those being required to be kept secrets. Every member of a revolutionary party that is really preparing for a final assault on capital are well aware of it. In that condition, how can a party go for “discussion in dialogue” to please the petty bourgeois fashion of a few super-revolutionaries. This is apart from the fact that the science of Marxism-Leninism cannot be made subject to any type of democracy, genuine or otherwise.
After the successful overthrow of the rule of capital, the main task of the working-class Party and the revolutionary mass of people was changed. It means that now, as Lenin puts it, “we have to deal with an enemy in mundane economics, and this is a thousand times more difficult.” Lenin says that the old revolutionary phrases don’t come to our rescue here. It is also not a matter of text book style of work. The working class and its Party have to act in a given condition and learn step by step, but quickly as well as cautiously while putting down every resistance of the bourgeois who are involved in corruption, in corrupting the revolutionary ranks, cultural high handedness of the bourgeois elements in administrative work, pilfering and sabotage of the economy being resorted to more than often by the bourgeois hidden elements. In all these, the proletariat by his enthusiastic actions and the feeling of supreme sacrifices for the cause, assist and walk hand in hand with the party and the leadership and come forward in a positive manner and sensitively by understanding even the body language of his leadership at every level and acting vigorously at the slightest mention. Only such a party of the proletariat can finally register a win over bourgeoisie.
This enthusiasm and communist sense of duty among the general mass of the proletariat originates from within and not to be imported from outside (for examples, sermons which is so prevalent in bourgeois society to get over the problem of alienation of the working masses) and must be least preached from outside as Mr. Ghosh seems to have been doing all the time. It originates primarily because of the erstwhile order of things having been done away with and replaced by new social relations i.e., production relations that do away with the earlier alienation of the workers from the means of production. Now they can understand that what they do is for the collective use of the society and the old method of superiority of private appropriation of the fruits of the proletarian labor has become a matter of the past.
Under the conditions of capitalism, the conditions of labor confront the proletariat and laborer as an alien force and hence the alienation of workers grows along with the growth of capitalism. This alienation is the result of and manifested as underpayment, unemployment, excess of labor and reserve army of capitalism, poverty and hunger, malnutrition, wage-cuts, layoffs, closure, retrenchment under the condition of overproduction (that happens quite often in capitalism), …. so on and so forth. As a result, disinterest in work and taking work as a burden on the part of the workers and laborers are quite common in capitalism. Under socialism, such situations become things of the past and hence a huge upsurge of mass enthusiasm and motivation appears among the working class. This is how workers’ emotions and enthusiasm take shape in socialism. It must never be posed as a question of being able to become theoreticians on the part of the working class. This is another non-sense of gigantic proportion. Before imagining this, any serious communist must first of all think of materially changing the old mode of life of the working class.
Such an understanding is not even idealism. It is equally deplorable to put to them moral demands to become selfless and shed off individualism. Here are Marx and Engels speaking on Individualism and collectivity vs selfishness and egoism-
“They (communists) know that this contradiction is only a seeming one because what is called the ‘general interests’ is constantly being produced by the other side, the private interest and in relation to the latter it is by no means an independent force with an independent history – so that this contradiction is in practice constantly destroyed and reproduced. Hence, it is not a question of the Hegelian “negative unity” of two sides of a contradiction, but of the materially determined destruction of the preceding materially determined mode of life of individuals, with the disappearance of which this contradiction together with its unity, also disappears…” (The German Ideology, CW-5 page. 247)
And hence there is no need to express this contradiction theoretically. This is how this matter occurs in Marxism. So, all the high-flown expressions of Mr. Shibdas Ghosh about methods and principles of solving all these have nothing to do with Marxism-Leninism.
Do we understand that the efficiency that USSR achieved were not the result of some basic changes that had occurred in the Soviet Union? We can understand it from the experiences of the “shock work” teams and the “Stakhanovite Movement” and many other such things that give enough light on the level of consciousness of the proletariat and the collective farm peasants of the ‘Stalinist’ Soviet Union. The ”Stakhanovite Movement” in particular not only organized team works and improved technique and efficiency and gained enormously in labor-productivity, but also represented a mass movement which overcame the objections of conservative engineers, did a lot of planning at the grass root level that were later recognized by the highest Soviet Planning bodies. The enthusiasm for learning more and more in the efficient method of production and management was such that the whole world stood in disbelief. The plans that were meant to be completed in 5 years were completed in three and a half or 4 years, the whole plans often had to be revised for the sake of allocation of funds and materials. Mr. Morris Dobb writes that many a time and in many industries this movement considerably lowered the cost of production. (See on page 475)
Molotov, in his report to the 18th party congress in March, 1939 said –
“Our plans for increased labor productivity during the second Five Year Plan period were exceeded because no plan could have made provision for the rise of the Stakhanov Movement”
What would Mr. Ghosh say about it? Were these not a movement, though certainly not a “discussion in dialogue”? Yes, Mr. Ghosh, it was a real movement and a living propaganda and agitation against the world of Capital. It had created both a sense of fury and fear in the hearts of the capitalists and the imperialists. But it wasn’t still the things you would have believe they should have. Sorry! Not only that I didn’t happen in USSR, for God’s sake it must not happen anywhere. If it happened in China according to you, it was a special case, the best thing that can be said about it. Universalizing it by you or by Mao or anyone is wrong and must be criticised. We’ll shortly come on all this in our next issues, if health and other engagements that curtail my time would allow me to do so.
We know that the many bourgeois economists, from the very beginning, raised the question of workability, accountancy, accountability, rationality and efficiency and what not in the socialist economic system. We, however, know that the Stalinist Soviet Union came out victorious by all accounts and with flying colours. And then the Soviet Union became a real spectre – the one Marx had written about in the beginning sentences of the ever-enduring Communist Manifesto.
Then, to fight against this spectre, all the bourgeois and the imperialists started anti-Soviet and anti-Stalin propaganda, invented cock and bull stories and exaggerated each and every thing to their end. The theory of Creative Marxism, originally initiated by Charles Bettelheim as a theory of rejection of possibility of an efficient USSR as socialism, has also come of age. Mr. Ghosh’s assertions about Soviet Socialism are also very much akin to it with only difference that he is quite a dwarf in front of them.
We very well know that Revolutionary phraseologists and demagogues are the worst enemies of the working class and its cause. The history of the International Communist Movement in general and the Indian communist Revolutionary Movement in particular is testimony to it. I request the readers to have courage to see how it is in plenty in this piece by Mr. Ghosh. He writes on page -219 (ibid)
“Due to a superficial knowledge of socialism and also due to the influence of modern revisionism, a group of socialists think that the main objective of socialism is to anyhow increase production. These so-called Marxists, in utter disregard of the inherent internal contradiction and the fundamental economic laws of socialist system, even advocate the introduction of a policy of material incentive to gear up production. As a result, the rate of production may be boosted temporarily but in no time, it may put at stake the socialist economy and endanger the socialist system by generating in all branches of production a speculative trend and by bringing about anarchy in production. As the main aim of socialism is to ultimately create abundance in production, these so-called Marxists vulgarize it by saying that the working class wants to increase production for individual benefit, both material and cultural. Naturally, according to them, socialism will have no meaning to the working class if it cannot provide them with more material benefits in comparison to the advanced capitalist countries. Under cover of this queer explanation of socialism, the old sense of bourgeois individual freedom and right makes its debut in a socialist society. It does not and can never bring proletarian revolutionary dedication among the working class” (page-237, emphasis added)
These are the words of a pure charlatan, words that only he can understand and explain.
According to him, Socialism is not about increasing production, the working class does/should not produce for itself and to talk of production in socialism is to vulgarise Marxism. Then what is socialism for? Is it Monasticism? Is it some sort of a mental state? Is “discussion in dialogue” a socialism? Perhaps yes, according to him. He seems to address the working class like this – “Hey, working class! listen. You should overthrow capitalism, but not for increasing production, and if you do so, be selfless, hundred percent. It is not for you; it should not benefit you! Enjoy its fruits mentally and be satisfied!”
This is what Mr. Ghosh really means, if we leave the bushes of words as it is. Refuting Lotta, SS’s author (Ajay Sinha) had written way back in 2004, in SS’s second issue-
“If such is the case why can’t men think of living in heaven even when he is materially very much living in the hell. And then everything is sorted out soon. There is then no need of doing revolution and changing the capitalist production relation. It is just a question of one’s ability to be blind to the material surroundings and dissolve all the contradictions, arising therefrom, in one’s mental territory – the brain”
Let us try to understand for ourselves the real import of Marxian Historical Materialism so far as this issue of emphasis being given on increasing production under socialism is concerned.
That all the class-struggles aiming for emancipation finally turns on economic emancipation (words of Engels) is such a truth that only people like Mr. Ghosh will deny. The very issue of proletarian revolution as the beginning of the era of a completely new era of social revolutions is understood to have arrived because the contradiction between old production relations is putting heavy constraint on further development of productive forces.
If we say that the working class revolution will finally succeed in changing the present relation and solve this contradiction, we do so keeping in mind that the solution of this contradiction will spur the onward march of the productive forces and carry forward the whole society into an era of uninterrupted development of productive forces and plentifulness of social wealth in the form of use-values so that man could be victorious over nature keeping in mind that he even than cannot behave with nature as a victor but as a part of it, for if it is destroys mankind will also destroy. True modern civilization arrives where all the scarcity that man has witnessed up till now becomes a memory of the past.
Now success in elevating socialism to a higher level i.e., communism essentially puts the demand for abolition of division of labour. It necessitates, as Marx says-
“a complete revolutionising of the old mode of production from top to bottom and an organization of production in which all men will do productive labour of his own share so that productive labour ceases to be a means of subjugating men and becomes a means of emancipation” (Ibid)
Such an organisation will offer, Marx continues-
“Each individual has an opportunity to develop all his faculties – physical and mental, in all directions and exercise them to the fullest. Such a condition can arise only when all the present conditions of labour and hence the labour itself is abolished.” (Ibid)
Those who one-sidedly despise production or emphasis on production, productivism etc. must, however know that, according to Engels,
‘It is only due to further technological and scientific development leading to an uninterrupted development in production under socialism that the abolition of division of labour (without which every cry of cultural upliftment under socialism will remain a utopia) is possible and can be carried through without being detriment to the labour productivity.’
Engels is quite explicit on this issue in the same paragraph –
“…On the contrary, thanks to the modern industry it (the demand for abolition of division of labour) has become a condition of production itself.”
Engels quotes Marx and says further –
“The employment of machinery does away with the necessity of crystallizing this distribution (division of labor) after the manner of manufacture by the constant annexation of a particular man to a particular function. Since the motion of the whole system does not proceed from the workman, but, from the machinery, a change of persons can take place at any time without an interruption of the work”
”So, the division of labour is rendered superfluous by technological development and hence the technical basis of modern industry is revolutionary” – so concludes Engels.
He says –
“The machinery rebels against division of labour.”
What is all this, Mr. Ghosh?
As the scientific technological progress of society and the productive forces suffice to reduce the labour time to a minimum, it is only then that the masses will have enough leisure time from work to develop other faculties to optimum level, which will lay the basis of real cultural development worth its name. If Mr Ghosh despises all these things and still talks so much of cultural movement etc., he can only find himself among saints and sadhus. It is better for his ideological followers to establish a sect of communist religion and a community of communist saints and sadhus.
The reduction of necessary labour time to minimum under the rule of capital will, however, lead to huge unemployment under capitalism. And here is the role of the proletariat which, under its rule, gives the socialised character of the productive forces a complete freedom – freedom from the character of capital – to work itself out so that the efficiency of production reaches such a zenith that the socially necessary labour time reduces to minimum without creating unemployment. This is a stage when everyone will enjoy what he invests in the form of labour to the society. Then labour ceases to be a burden. On the contrary, it becomes the prime necessity of man’s being and existence.
This is how the question of emphasis on production and development of technology stands in relation to theory and practice of socialism. For the sake of people like Mr. Ghosh it is necessary to clarify that like everything else the classes themselves did have historical justification. And the abolition of classes and ideologies inherited thereby can be abolished only by a particularly high level of historical evolution, the aim of attainment of which constitutes the historical mission of the working class while rallying all the toiling masses in its own favour. The completion of this historical mission cannot be done just by any class, but only by the working class. Why? Because only this class can rule without exploiting others i.e., it is not a class in the real sense of the term and ”represents the dissolution of all classes and nationalities historically produced up to now.”
Many kind hearted and enlightened men filled with generosity may feel the need to abolish division of labor and bourgeois rights, but, without the presence of favourable material conditions, such dreams cannot be turned into realities. Such dreams first of all have to present themselves as a historical necessity by a particular, materially achieved degree of historical evolution of material production. Why?
Let us listen to Marx and Engels-
“ .. The separation of society into an exploiting class and exploited class, a ruling class and an oppressed class was the necessary consequence of the deficient and restricted development of production in former times. So long as total social labor only yields a produce which but slightly exceeds that barely necessary for the existence of all; so long, therefore, as labor engages all or almost all the time of the great majority of the members of the society – so long, of necessity, this society is divided into classes. Side by side with the great majority, exclusively bond slaves to labor, arises a class freed from directly productive labor, which looks after the general affairs of society, the direction of labor, state business, law, science, art etc. It is therefore the law of division of labor that lies at the basis of the division into classes ……” (emphases in bold added)
Here Engels directly raises the question of plentifulness and abundance of yield as the material pre-requisites for the abolition of classes and the ideology inherited therefrom. He says further even more clearly. Just listen –
“It (the division of labor) was based upon the insufficiency of production. It will be swept away by the complete development of modern productive forces. And in fact, the abolition of classes in society pre-supposes a degree of historical evolution at which… the existence of class distinction itself has become an obsolete anachronism. It supposes therefore, the development of production carried out to a degree at which appropriation of the means of production and of the products and with this, of political domination, of the monopoly of culture and of intellectual leadership by a particular class of society, has become not only superfluous but economically, politically, intellectually a hindrance to the development.” (Emphases in bold added)
It is now clear as to who vulgarizes Marxism? It is clear that culture is primarily not a matter of phraseology, but, a very serious question of the political economy of socialism, finally connected to development of productive forces?
Although it is like testing one’s own patience, yet it is important to listen to him for a few more minutes. He elaborates his views on “On Withering Away of State” and “Where in Lies Emancipation of Individual.” While discussing withering away of State as the final culmination of the development under socialism, he does not see the presence of Imperialist encirclement as the main obstacle, nor does he see the bourgeois rights and other related problems such as transformation of the collective farms into State farms i.e. the collective property of the whole working people and therefrom transforming the existing relation of limited area of exchange of commodities between the proletarian State and collective farm peasants by higher forms of social organization as well as higher form of men’s material interaction. He cannot see all these things, doesn’t have patience for this. He only sees –
“The contradiction that exists between the individual interest and the social interest (that) is antagonistic in nature. So long as antagonistic contradictions between the individual and the state, on the one hand, and between the individual interest and social interest, on the other, remain, the state will not wither away i.e., it will not disappear even after the problems relating to production and other issues have been resolved…” (emphases added)
This is truly splendid from the point of view of exposition of a great leader and thinker that he is! Let us discuss.
This is perhaps no one’s case that the solution of the problems relating to production per se will lead to the withering away of the state. Who has said this, Mr. Ghosh? Based on this shadow boxing, however, what you say is a caricature of Marxism. Your high sounding talk of abolition of individual interests and the need of its theoretical treatment vis-a-vis social or collective interest as Hegelian negative unity of opposites may seem extraordinarily revolutionary to your disciples, but it is totally out of place in Marxism. I have already quoted Marx and Engels extensively on this point.
Secondly, what is this State Vs individual? Let’s hear from Mr. Ghosh himself –
“And so long as the State exists as a reflection of this antagonistic contradiction (State Vs Individual), even in socialism the individual must have to submit to the social interest, and the trend of revolt against the repressive character of the socialist state would appear repeatedly in individuals and, for this, the social objective would suffer time and again. Time and again the individual would revolt and his indifferent attitude towards social problems would grow more and more. As a result, the appeal of the nobility of communist ideology and the power of communist dedication would lose their attraction, or it would lead to the trend of liberalisation. In other words, more and more demands for greater individual freedom and rights would be raised. And if this process continues, then this would give birth to revisionism and that would only help in the restoration of capitalism” (emphasis added)
One really wonders what Mr. Ghosh is up to. In his solicitous drive, Mr. Ghosh completely goes out of track. Where is the Class Approach? Who will revolt? “Individual” he answers. Who is that individual? there is no answer. Is that individual a worker or a toiler? Possibly yes. Why will he revolt? because of his individual interest. But why is his individual interest not satisfied? What is his individual interest like? There is again no answer.
We have already discussed that the individual interests become collective interests under proletarian rule. If individual interests of workers are not being satisfied, it also means that collective interests are also not being satisfied. Then it means he is certainly not talking about socialism. He must be talking about either capitalism or some other system. He is completely out of track as the essay is approaching the end.
Let us not forget that in socialism, the state power is working class State power and no other state. They execute their rule i.e., the dictatorship over the bourgeois and all the other exploiting classes through and with the help of the communist party which in the role of their own vanguard. When no such need of a vanguard party exists, the party and state both will vanish. What is strange about it? Is there any contradiction in this?
If Mr. Ghosh finds a contradiction, he must clearly say so and only then he would understand the futility of his own logic. In that case he will have to doubt the communist Party itself which is the most powerful weapon in the hands of the proletariat to crush the resistance of the enemies once and for ever. For all those who raise a question that the rule of the proletariat through the communist Party as their vanguard is a distortion of the dictatorship of the proletariat are mostly those who are badly mistaken and undermine the steering role of the communist party. We can only ask them to be not dragged in such phraseologism and pundit-like wisdom.
For them, let us ask a question: if the bourgeois can rule through their representatives, why not the proletariat? We know that to negate the role of the communist Party is to negate Leninism? But what can be said, if someone is supposed to have raised himself above Marx, Engels and Lenin?
Lastly, let me admire Mr. Ghosh’s braveness/boldness. He is also ”realistically sound in smelling. ‘He talks in the very same manner and language, and has used the very same dictionary of words with which Chinese communist literature is immensely abash with (such as egoism, individualism, collective interests, cultural movements etc.), he puts up a brave front and dons a preacher’s gown for the Chinese Communists, too. Let us see how. He writes-
“The Chinese leadership, in my opinion, while fighting individualism, has moved close to grasping the root cause of the problem. But till now, they have not succeeded in providing a clear and precise theoretical basis of the problem I have discussed so far.”
Now let us take leave of Mr. Ghosh. Let SUCI give the necessary clarifications, if any. One thing is clear that Mr. Ghosh had great self-confidence and an unlimited appetite for incessantly talking ‘Marxism’, almost in a religious manner without being any shy.
 Well known as China’s ”Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” (GPCR) under the leadership of Mao
 This part of the sentence is a remoulded part
 the phrase in bold has been newly added.
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