On Modi’s Ignominious Yet Cunning Retreat On Farm Laws: A Deceitful Retreat, But A Retreat Nonetheless

On Modi’s Ignominious Yet Cunning Retreat On Farm Laws: A Deceitful Retreat, But A Retreat Nonetheless

November 25, 2021 0 By Yatharth

But To Whom Did He Offer The Apology?

Editorial November 2021

An election is coming,

Universal peace is declared.

And the foxes have a sincere interest in,

prolonging the lives of the poultry.

George Eliot

Nothing feels more outstanding than to believe that Modi is on a retreat trail. We first spotted it when BJP was snuffed out and decimated in Uttarakhand by-elections. It resulted in reduction of some central taxes on petrol and diesel and brought a halt in their price rise. Then came the sudden increase in consumer’s LPG subsidy resulting in lowering of its effective price. It is true that many of us were keenly watching this as something spectacular was being expected after this. We were able to smell something at a distance, but never smelt such a big mole just near our own feet. Truly speaking, we failed in making sense of it well in advance. This time Modi surprised us, too. But, could this glossy surprise blind us or anyone else from seeing what is what? Does anyone have any doubt about his real intentions behind this highly sensationalized U-turn? I hope, none.

Yes, Modi has started retreating and has already announced to repeal (annul) the farm laws in the coming Parliament winter session. A bill to this effect (to repeal the farm laws) is also reported to have been approved by the cabinet and is being expected to be passed by the parliament as quickly as possible. The content of the bill is however in the dark and is being awaited. Among many reasons, it is of course aimed at averting the not-so-distant possibility of a serious confrontation of the state/government with the farmers in the near future, while at the same time it is also motivated by the short-term opportunistic political calculations aimed at securing a victory in UP elections for BJP. If Modi loses UP in the elections, its severe impact will be felt in Delhi. UP and Delhi are adjacent to each other, not only geographically, but also politically. In case of defeat in UP, its shock waves will send trembles to Modi and his government. It will definitely signal the fall of his politics – Modi’s own brand of politics. He will have to think of using other means to hold on to power or else he will have to ready himself to quit if voted out in 2024. Achche din for BJP are probably gone. In such a complex situation, securing a victory in UP is the easiest way to defend Delhi peacefully, and the most peaceful way to secure a win in UP was to declare at least a temporary ceasefire with the farmers. But even for clutching a temporary ceasefire, he needed to give in on some big issue. Hence this well crafted display of artificial benevolence. Modi, as usual when faced with a difficult political situation, tried to play sentimentalese by enacting a melodrama in his speech to overreach the farmers and outmaneuver them emotionally in a nerve racking fight. He even tried to enact altruism in that melodrama to show that he was ready to inflict injustice to himself for the good of others. It also seemed as if to show to the world that he also respects popular dissenting opinions and for this he can even allow a dent in his own carefully built image of a never bending powerful leader if ”some” farmers see benefit in the repeal of the farm laws, which, according to him, would have been of great benefit to the agrarian poor.

Keeping these things in mind, it is not difficult to understand that Modi was left with no other choice than announcing the repeal of the farm laws. In this sense, it is a deceitful retreat. It is no doubt a reversible retreat, but an important retreat nonetheless. The most important thing about this is that he has been forced to retreat. He didn’t voluntarily retreat.  Hence it is a well-deserved victory. The one who was supposed to be invincible has been brought to his knees. Inasmuch as it is a defeat on the part of Modi, it is a victory for the agitating farmers. It has led their fighting morale to a new height. It is a very important victory for it has also enhanced the morale of all the democratic minded and justice-loving people and will definitely strengthen all the social movements that are being waged against capital and for democracy, justice and liberation. It will trigger fresh life in social movements to develop with renewed hope, power and courage. 

But the victorious farmers are still not the final winners. The battle is still heavily poised in favour of corporate and big capital. In the fight for supremacy and forceful monopolisation of Indian agriculture through these farm laws, the big capital has only partially given in. To think that they have given up will be a big folly. The farmers have only held their reign, stopped it half-way in the air, but it is still in their control. The state power is only theirs. Their main accomplice Modi is very much in power, well-entrenched there. Being in power, he has thousand ways to reverse his defeat into victory. Many would have been already underway, otherwise he wouldn’t have so plainly offered apology, the purpose of which is to conceal in its glaze what he is really up to.

The Economic Times, the mouth piece of India’s big capital writes this on its editorial page, – “Is the repeal of the three farm laws the end of agricultural reform in India? There is no reason for such pessimism. … There are many roads to Kashi. If one is closed, others beckon. In fact, we have held that there are better ways to the needed agri reforms than that held out by the three laws that were passed in a hurry and now would be repealed.”(bold added)[1]

Farmers! Keep these words in your minds. Insofar as farmers, the toiling farmers above all, are still far away from the final liberation from the yoke of the world-wide exploitative system i.e. the victory over capitalism and imperialism, achievable only under the leadership of the proletariat in a joint effort and alliance with all the toiling sections including farmers, the present victory is not going to be a permanent victory. It must be remembered that the present farmers’ fight, undoubtedly the most important and formidable fight so far against big capital, is a part and parcel of a still greater battle being waged for long that encompasses not only farmers but all oppressed and exploited sections of the people. Although it is true that the farmers have played a pivotal role in this dark phase, but it is equally true that this is not the peasants’ fight alone, just as the farm laws weren’t just anti-farmers. It wasn’t being driven by typical narrow minded dreams. The farmers’ clarion call that they won’t allow the bread to be imprisoned in the Iron chests of the Corporates proves that the movement could not have travelled such a long distance without arousing the poor masses’ aspirations for a complete end of exploitation; it couldn’t have been so popular and widely acclaimed cutting across all strata and sections of the people without striking a chord with the poor people’s dream and expectations; it proves that it isn’t their movement alone and hence it is not their business alone to decide and declare as to when and where this movement will stop. The sympathy of all the oppressed and exploited sections to this struggle was and is a key question so far as the moral strength of this movement is concerned. Farmers must better not forget it for their struggle is not finished as yet. The enemy is right at their door. Their miseries too are not over. They also can’t be over without the elimination of this capitalist system. Without these things stitched together, such a huge appeal was impossible. And without such huge appeal it would have been impossible for this movement to become as much invincible.

So, the movement or struggle against capital/big capital is not going to cease or stop with this. Hopefully, farmers aren’t going stop half-way. But even if they do so, which is not impossible given too many unfavorable conditions[2], their life conditions will again force them for the fight, will bring them again to the battle ground. So, the fight against capital will go on without any significant break, till the final victory, even if farmers are ready to partially quit after certain more demands are met giving them temporary relief. In that case, other sections will continue the fight based on their strength and preparedness. No one can say right now with full clarity as to what will happen after then. Even the working class may be forced to come on the centre stage, take up the cudgel and rekindle new hopes of liberation in the hearts of all other oppressed and exploited classes. Many things are in the dark as of now. Only one thing is as clear as day light – the general crisis of capitalism which is the outcome or result of complete dominance of finance capital in the whole economy is not going to yield and this will force all without exception to come and choose sides in the battle ground.  

And the things can also be seen so far moving in the right direction. Farmers aren’t quitting. Reports coming from them suggest that they understand that any half-way victory can be overturned so long as capitalist system is in place and it is not overthrown. They know that this victory has arrived partly because important state assembly elections are round the corner, but more importantly because the state was in no way comfortably poised to deal with the farmers’ movement without taking extreme steps i.e. unleashing heavy repression. But this wasn’t a viable option before the state as it posed serious threat to the stability of both – the government as well as the state. Such an extreme step was fraught with these dangers that scared the capitalist class as a whole. The state also knew that a countrywide reprisal of all the oppressed classes is also awaiting. The frustrations and grief of countless number of people are but heaps of ready-made gun-powder lying just few inches below the surface. The heap is getting larger as the unprecedented and barbaric economic loot of the big capital is being carried more and more nakedly and unashamedly. The people’s anguish, depression and frustration may any day blast. What is needed is just a small spark to ignite the accumulated anger. If the state had acted irresponsibly i.e. let loose bloody repression on peasants as it tried to do in Lakhimpur Kheri, it could have sent thousands of sparks flying in the air capable of setting the whole forest on fire. The kind of uproar that instantly raised in the whole country following the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre was a pointer to this threat and Modi along with his Masters didn’t fail to grasp it. They timely understood that ”people” can’t be taken for granted and duped all the time by communal politics and hate-mongering. Modi and his clique rightly anticipated a people’s revolt in the making. We may ignore it, and out of frustrations due to organizational weaknesses we do ignore it, but ruling classes don’t. Those who only see elections as the reason of Modi’s retreat are profoundly mistaken.

* * *

Has this situation changed with the announcement of withdrawal of the farm laws? Has the threat of people’s revolt disappeared with this? Has the big capital loot subsided with this? Will it ever subside if capitalist system is not done away with? Will the corporate quit its effort of monopolising the economy including the agriculture sector? Will not the second or higher phase of capitalist development in agriculture continue to take place even after the repeal of the farm laws?

The finance capital leading the economy always means the monopoly of big over small. And monopoly capital can’t survive for long without establishing monopoly. This is the quintessence of new capitalism – the monopoly capitalism of 21st century. That’s why we have always said that today’s capitalist system – capitalism of 21st century – can not withdraw the farm laws in essence. Similarly, the monopoly capitalist state cannot give the legal guarantee of MSP which would actually mean giving a guarantee of purchase of all crops of all farmers by a capitalist state. Then how can we reconcile the withdrawal of the farm laws with this?

First of all, it doesn’t mean that it is impossible in any condition. No sensible person will ever say so. When we say that that India’s capitalist state of today cannot withdraw the farm laws ever or accept the demand of statutory guarantee for MSP, we only indicated the historically imposed limit upon capitalism under which the state dominated by big capital can’t ever roll back its drive for growth of capitalist monopoly as it will amount to foregoing the inner general laws of capitalist accumulation – concentration and centralisation. The tendency of capitalist accumulation is towards the concentration of all capital in a single world trust. But it must be understood as a tendency and not an accomplished fact. Other factors work as counteracting factors. Mass upsurge against deprivation, hunger, poverty, displacements and dispossession etc. – which are all but the outcome of capitalist accumulation – work as a big counteracting factor. Politics works here on this tendency. Either it puts temporary limit on this tendency or the resulting intensification of contradictions within the system due to this tendency may altogether lead to a complete seize of the economic system and finally it may cause an internal blast that will turn capitalism into its opposite i.e. socialism. This is how this tendency works. If a strong counteracting factor emerges so that it forces this tendency to take a slow, zigzag and turnstile path, the capitalist state has to put brake on this tendency i.e. retreat from going further ahead with the same speed. What does it lead to? Does it lead to the negation of the historical limit? No, in no way. It only means that with every such compromise and retreat, the capitalist system is left with lesser space for itself to maneuver when such a counteracting factor appears next time once again. It means that the space between where the capitalist system stands now and where the last wall signifying its historical limit diminishes and accordingly its maneuverability to deal with such crises as created by counteracting factors is heavily dented. Therefore, the chances of using repression as a method to quell the mass upsurge (the counteracting force and factors), and therefore chances and possibility of precipitation of the revolutionary crisis which also threatens its existence, for avoiding which it had earlier retreated many times in the past, becomes imminent and non-negotiable in the last.

Coming to the present movement, we have been saying that the state can accept the main demands of the movement only in case when the capitalist state itself is threatened of its existence i.e. when the movement becomes such a potential force that it is capable of unleashing a revolutionary energy that can overthrow not only the present government but also the social system itself. Did this condition exist before Modi was forced to retreat? Yes, it certainly did. Not only that this condition existed before Modi chose to retreat, seeing the angry mood of the people at large against Modi’s deceitful character we can say that the threat of a serious revolutionary crisis still exists, even after the declaration of the repeal of the farm laws. People are still disenchanted on a large scale. Anger is still pouring out in plenty. Our statement that a capitalist state can accept such demands that collide with its boundary only when the movement threatens its existence stands fully vindicated as Modi retreated only when such a threat existed, though in its original form which cannot be the photo copy of what its theoretical treatment presents it to be. It is important to see the difference between the shape which a historical incident may actually and originally take and the one that the theoretical presentation of that incident presents in its purest form. It is naturally that both look different from each other but only in external appearances. Any original incident occurs only thus, and not in the copy paste fashion of its theoretical presentation.

* * *

Now there are two possible situations confronting the capitalist state as of now, after the withdrawal of the farm laws. Firstly, Modi, the bluff master, as he is known for, may opt to still continue to cheat the peasants by enacting a law in its place which is similar in spirit to the old farm laws. Secondly, he may opt to really put brakes on the big capital and its monopoly for some time and leave it to general economic and market forces to do the rest for them, which will also bring the same result but spontaneously, as the farm laws would have brought forcefully using the force inherent in the laws.

Let us discuss these two options. In the first case, the peasants won’t withdraw from the struggle, not even in the least possible sense. It will further accentuate the pitch of movement leaving no option for the state other than to use force in the last. But that will again be fraught with dangers that would threaten the very existence of the state, given that the extreme repressive measure may ignite accumulated anger of the people at large, and not only that of farmers. In the second case, the loot and growth of monopoly capital will be seriously challenged. That will fuel the finance capital’s tendency to outflow. This will lead to collapse of the whole economy in a big way precipitating huge mass unrest.

This is what I could have discussed in it in the fewest of words. We have been saying there is no middle path possible here, neither for the farmers whose constantly deteriorating life’s material conditions have brought them into struggles and whose morale has been led to new height with this nominal victory, nor for the capitalist state which is reeling under decade’s long unyielding economic crisis. There are only two possible ways to salvation for the ruling capitalist class. One, if farmers just run away from the scene by accepting ignominious defeat for themselves or the leadership turns traitor and backstabs the farmers. Another is that the unrelenting crisis is anyhow overcome for a considerable time of period so that enough economic space is at the disposal of the big capital to economically satisfy at least a large section of the population. But both seem unlikely. Given the permanently crisis-prone, too much aged, and seriously moribund condition of capitalism, which is ailing with untreatable cancer, it can in no way, not even by magic, resurrect itself into youthful old days and acquire new teeming life and fill its body with new fresh strength. We know both the options are not available. So long as it can survive, and so long as people are allowing it to survive, it has been surviving only as a cancerous outgrowth on the body of the society.

Even if, for the sake of avoiding fatal confrontation with the farmers today, the capitalist state accepts the demand of statutory guarantee (meaning for all farmers) of MSP for all crops, it will immediately lead to another round of not one big confrontation, but many big confrontations, which, if not led by mature revolutionary forces with a clear working class revolutionary perspective, may lead to chaos and anarchism, though its chances are meager given that a strong and comparatively much more matured leading centre, learning quickly and positively from experiences, has emerged. It means that the need of revolutionary transformation of society will be even much more visible than ever before. This is what it’s most natural result will be, when the historical limit of capitalism, under whose constraint the capitalist state can’t accept such demands as ones that collide with its boundary, confronts and comes in acute contradiction with the political necessity of compromising and retreating in the face of a stubborn mass movement i.e. a counteracting force or factor. Political deftness has a limit and here it can’t rescue the big capital. It is of some use only in the arena of political struggles that usually build up in and around bourgeois political parties that swear allegiance and subservience to the same class of big capital. Once a counteracting force or factor grows out of this arena so that it collides violently with the boundary of capitalism, such things as political deftness become obsolete.

That’s why we are able to say that when their further demands will be met, it will instead of satiating them, enhance the people’s appetite for more. It will ignite the much needed fire in their hearts making them aspire for their dream of final liberation come true. This is exactly how a revolutionary crisis like situation unfolds the hidden energy of the masses and forces them to come on the top of the surface, if other favourable conditional are of course present. In this sense only, the achieved victory will have any meaningful worth. This is how this victory can exhaust its worth. Any other course that it will take will turn this victory useless or null and void for the farmers as nothing precious is going to happen in their life even after the repeal of the farm laws. This takes us again to the same turn. If farmers aren’t made aware of ill effects of the existence of the capitalist state and if they are not called upon to overthrow it, the whole movement will become worthless. All such exercises to continue the movement will prove to be of no avail.

That’s why, till the final victory, it must be taken and regarded as a reversible and temporary victory. But it is nonetheless a great victory. The enormity of its importance in these dark times can be easily understood. It is palpable and can be plainly comprehended, though in a limited sense, by the appreciable increase in moral strength of those who have been fighting against fascist onslaught on the ground. Streets thronged by ”People” have emerged superior to the corridors of power, yet again. The revolutionary idea of supremacy of ”People” stands vindicated, yet again. It is proved beyond doubt once again that ”People”, and not the parliament, is supreme, and law or an institution is pious only till ”People” has willed it. ”People” can unlaw any thing, even the Parliament or a government. ”People” can make even the most powerful, bite the dust. Parliament can be taken over by the fascist goons and bluff masters from within, but not the streets where the soul of democracy resides, where people’s will resonates, and where people’s power reigns. To take over the streets, fascists need to take over or enslave people. As soon as they begin doing it, an ignominious defeat awaits them, sooner than later.

* * *

Modi, while retreating, also offered apology. But for what? He apologised for not being able to convince a section of the farmers about the benefits of the farm laws! But, to whom did he offer the apology? There is no clear answer. It has however been interpreted as well as propagated with a purpose by the media, Godi or otherwise all alike, that he has offered apology to the farmers.

But this interpretation is misleading. The theory of Modi apologizing to farmers is a hoax, a complete imposturous prank. It is a bluff of a fully grown bluff master that Mode in all these years has so proficiently proved he is. To say that ‘Modi’ has offered apology to farmers because he couldn’t convince those same farmers about the benefits of the farm laws is awkward, meaningless and above all a sinister game to still hoodwink the people into thinking that he respects people.

It is true that he could not convince the farmers. He also could not convince other people, though he tried hard to drive home his pet idea that the farm laws are for the poor. He could not convince anyone about the utility of the farm laws in bringing down the prices of the eatables. People at large could see through skyrocketing prices the real design and mechanism inbuilt in Modi’s policies. Working class could also see how the farm laws and labour codes are closely related and geared in one direction and with a single purpose of providing the freest ever ground for the big capital and the magnets of finance capital to monopolise both the sectors agriculture and industry, and thus strangulate the whole working people. It was quite natural that he could not convince even the city dwellers and middle classes. As of now, no one believes in his so called pious intentions behind his announcements of repeal of the farm laws.

But in this discussion, where and how does the question of his convincing or not convincing the peasants arise? Did he ever try to convince the farmers at all? With what could he convince the farmers after all? Was there anything precious in the anti-people farm laws? The fact is that he never, not even once, tried to convince the farmers for there was nothing precious or advantageous for the farmers in the farm laws with which he could do the convincing. We have seen how his agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar did it and what transpired from this. What he and his men did all along during the movement, since its beginning and till the last minute, were aimed at bullying and harassing them every now and then. We can see it happen since the very beginning. We know how he and his men abused and harassed them willfully, threw cold water canons when they were marching to Delhi in the winter season. When this didn’t deter the farmers, they even dug the highways to stop their march. Only firing bullets on the farmers was wanting. When nothing of this sort watered down their courage and the farmers reached the borders of Delhi from all directions, they blocked the roads with huge cemented barricades, barbed wires and later erected sharp nails on the road to prevent them from entering Delhi, their own capital. They kept harassing them by stopping water and electricity supply at the Delhi borders where they were staying. They also hatched up conspiracies through hired goons on 26th January to defame their movement as anti-national and slapped hundreds of the front line farmers leaders and activists with fabricated heinous police cases, labeled the agitating farmers with the most notorious adjectives such as Khalistani, Chinese, Pakistani, foreign agents and what not, tried to divide them on caste and communal lines, and finally tried to use the last tactics of shedding hot red blood of farmers on the streets by crushing them under the wheels of the ”Thar” Jeep, by none else than the son of his trusted lieutenant and state home minister Ajay Mishra Teni. If Modi actually wanted to offer apology to farmers, he would have done this quite gracefully, for all the dirty words and worst behaviour meted out to the farmers by him or his men. But he didn’t even mention any of these things, nor did he speak a single word expressing grief for the death of more than 700 farmers. On the contrary he in a way defended what he and his men did as pious intentions. He also defended the farm laws. What kind of apology is this if we suppose it is an apology offered to the farmers? Doesn’t it looks like the apology of a crook, a crooked apology?

Then, to whom did he offer the apology? He apologised to the monopolist capitalists like Adanis and Ambanis. He apologised to the farmers only apparently and by doing so, he was apologising to the likes of Adanis and Ambanis who till the last were hoping that his trusted and brought up Modi-Shah regime will anyhow pave the way to victory of the farm laws. It is their investment of thousands of crores in building hundreds of multipurpose and mostly air-conditioned class one warehouses and cold storages around the whole country that has been at stake. And this is the reason to believe that unless a policy of implementing the same isn’t put in place, the three farm laws wouldn’t have been withdrawn. If Modi has announced to withdraw the farm laws, it indicates that something new has already been put in place. This is how things will work out to be on the whole.

[1] What the 20th November 2021 Economic Times writes leaves no doubt as to how the mechanism of the farms laws was built to serve the interests of the big companies and not the farmers. It writes, – ”The withdrawal of farm laws could impact sourcing and expansion plans and dash industry’s hopes of cheaper input cost.” (bold added) It further writes that, -”The Indian processed market is estimated at over 2.6 lakh crores and large companies were drawing up fresh plans to benefit from sourcing directly from farmers.”

[2] one being the weakness of the working class forces in overcoming its historical defeat they suffered at the hands of capital long back in the 50s of the last century beginning with the rise to power of the arch-revisionist Khrushchev in the Soviet Union after the demise of comrade Stalin.