Deepening Crisis And Need For A Leninist PartyNovember 1, 2022
Editorial, November 2022
No one can deny that the question of establishing Leninist unity is directly linked to the task of carrying out the proletarian revolution, especially when signs of an upcoming storm of rage among the masses are becoming more apparent with the deepening world capitalist crisis, and are being reflected in every sphere of life – from industry to agriculture and from working class to middle class. We believe that the question of Leninist unity of revolutionaries, whether within the same group or outside, though being a theoretical question at its core, also becomes linked to our revolutionary practice today given the present condition where the objective revolutionary situation appears to be maturing fast because of the deep and infinite expansion of the worldwide capitalist crisis. Circumstances are forcing us day by day to talk openly about it. Let’s talk about its different aspects.
This article at its core is a continuation of the previous editorial article in which we tried to find out whether there is any revolutionary mass upsurge growing in the womb of society. If so, why doesn’t it seem to be moving or stretching? We wrote that the capitalist crisis is so deep that all hopes of the common man of improving his living conditions have shattered. So, beneath the surface there appears to be a restless stirring, which will increase and intensify in the worst period of economic downturn. Sometimes it also bursts above the surface and spreads like a forest fire, behind which there is a feeling of hopelessness and despair among the masses that nothing positive is going to happen in their lives anymore. And that’s not far from the truth. Both, the crisis and the attack of capitalism, will intensify. The days before 2014, which were horrible for the masses, are not looking all that bad now. There is also a feeling among the people that in no way are those days coming back.
When looked closely we find that the very bad days after 2014 are a result of the bad days after 1991 reaching their zenith (in which liberalization, privatization, globalization and policies that gradually brought the economy under financialization played a big role). And it was only after this that the gang of monopoly capitalists brought a member of the fascist RSS, Narendra Modi, to the public and presented him as a bright alternative to Congress. Going back further, we find that the foundation of 1991 was laid in 1973 itself. The capitalist crisis that began in 1973 broke out after the end of the Golden Age of capitalism (1945-73), which had emerged after the Second World War. It continued incessantly with a generally falling and occasionally rising growth rate and, having passed through the era of economic neoliberalism of 1991, has now grown into the life-sized insurmountable global capitalist crisis of today. The same policy of economic neoliberalism, known as the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), was already in force in many countries outside India. The post-crisis period of 1973 was also a period of the extinction of Bretton Woods institutions (such as IMF, World Bank etc.). It was during this period that the growing dominance of volatile international finance capital, such as the Euro-dollar, which was fueled by Bretton Woods institutions to take advantage of its growing power, eventually led to the demise of these very institutions. These institutions, which had already succumbed to the dominance of the Euro-dollar, eventually moved out of its way completely. All the obstacles in the way of its international circulation, which also included a fixed exchange rate system, were removed one by one. Today’s colossal form of dominance of financial monopoly, which has subjugated all the economies of the world and pushed them into a perpetual crisis, is inextricably linked with the abovementioned epoch-making but extremely reactionary changes in favour of financial monopoly capital taking place in the last four to five decades and, thus cannot be understood without seeing it in connection with these changes occurring in a continuous series. Some believe that during the Golden Age of capitalism, financial monopoly capital was reined in in developed countries such as America. But this is not true. Even at that time, it was the financial capital that took advantage of the new US policy instead of German policy, otherwise it would not have been possible for financial monopoly capital after 1980 to suddenly, as if from nowhere, succeed in fully controlling the economies of the whole world. Although this is not the proper place to discuss it in detail, but it is the continuation of the abovementioned phenomenon leading to today’s permanent crisis that has intensified the attack on the common masses. And so, the restlessness of the masses sometimes explodes like sparks in the furnace, although it is true that they get extinguished without setting the forest on fire. The question arises, why? What is the reason behind the lack of sufficient heat or fervor in the sparks? If we consider the farmers’ movement, which lasted for more than a year, as an explosion of similar sparks, then the question arises even more acutely, as to why the fire of such a long-lasting movement, which was adorned with numerous martyrdoms, also dimmed? Whereas even after the removal of pro-corporate farm laws, the exploitation of farmers is increasing in newer ways. Once withdrawn, the movement no longer remained even a shadow of itself. On the other hand, there has not been even a slight change in the old oppressed condition of the majority of farmers. Thus, this question remains unanswered; Why is the fire not igniting the forest? Will the sparks continue to flare up like this in the future and go out without setting fire to the forest? If yes, why? If not, why? What is the main link in this journey between ‘yes’ to ‘no’ which is out of our sight? It is, among dozens of others, the main link behind our failure in accomplishing the task of proletarian revolution, without which it is impossible to resolve the other links i.e., impossible to set fire to the forest.
For example, the answer to why the Farmers’ Movement could not go beyond a point is that the movement itself needed the heat of proletarian working-class ideology that would lead it to culmination; That is, the heat that could mold the majority of farmers into a pivotal character in the fight for the complete annihilation of the capitalist system, which is the main reason behind their misery. What we mean by the culmination of the revolutionary Farmers’ Movement is for it to become the reserved force of the proletariat fighting for power (some people may laugh at this, but then they are questioning their own credibility as the revolutionary leading force of the working class). But this couldn’t happen, because it was not up to the farmers alone to convert their strength into the reserved forces of the proletariat. Its main link was the proper intervention by the working class and its leading revolutionary forces, which could take different forms and figures at different times. Anyway, this discussion is unfit for today as no timely intervention was done by the revolutionary forces. A bird’s-eye view of the practice of working-class forces in those days that supported the farmers’ movement would make it clear as to why the farmers’ movement could not reach or even near its culmination. Actually, their eyes were blinded by the ‘sparkle’ of the farmers’ movement. And then it is possible to forget that the liberation of the farmers, who are troubled by countless miseries, can be done only after the working-class has come to power. The sole job of the working-class forces was not to support the farmers. Some hard truths also have to be kept before them and that too in an open manner. Our revolutionary movement failed in this. However, those whose eyes were not dazzled, they too unintentionally missed the opportunity. They were severely imprisoned within the limits of their own organizational weaknesses. We have always raised this point as much as possible in the pages of ‘Yatharth’ and ‘The Truth’. We have always emphasized that unless a revolutionary force rises which can ride on the crest of the spontaneous movements exploding among different sections of society and, which will take its final shape while making flesh and blood relation with these very movements, until then, it is impossible to convert public anger into a revolutionary outburst, no matter however spectacular and favorable the external circumstances may be. Being emotional about this, shedding tears or being filled with revolutionary spirit and spilling rants everywhere is useless, because nothing can compete with or change this truth.
It is true that without the creation of a true proletarian general headquarters (an organization of professional revolutionaries whose main function is to monitor the possibilities of revolution, evaluate it and take steps to organize it accordingly) it is impossible to ride atop the spontaneous movements and carry them to the threshold of proletarian revolution. Therefore, the most urgent task today is to firmly defend and practically implement the Leninist principles of forming a revolutionary organization.
Unity based on the common revolutionary principles and Marxist-Leninist ideology is the foundation on which the iron-clad and disciplined unity and devotion, in other words, Leninist principles of the party/organisation are based. Therefore, a true communist party, whose roots are deeply set among the toiling masses, and which is capable of carrying out completely disciplined and unified actions; That is, the question of the formation of a communist party which is completely unified and centralized is an important theoretical and practical aspect of the proletarian revolution. We often forget that this is one of the main foundations of Leninism.
It is not right to see this as a practical question only. This would mean establishing unity somehow, that is, creating a loose and disorganized structure of the party organization without achieving the goal-oriented and real unity and devotion necessary for revolution. A loose form of party organisation does not match the task of preparing all the forces of the proletariat at every sharp turn, while treading the path of revolution, to have maximum striking power at a particular focus point and to implement this at the proper time, which, in stormy times, becomes extremely crucial in taking our ultimate goal to its final destination. In contrast, discipline based on the policy of unified and centralized actions from the beginning is essential in achieving the capacity for tactical flexibility in ever-changing circumstances, and therefore vital in carrying a period of turbulence to its genuine end. Hence it is often seen that at any sharp turn, the party either splits or is forced to give up both the goal and the maximum striking power in order to save unity. Thus, it takes a huge toll in the form of an untimely death of the Leninist policy of unified action. A noteworthy point here is that a series of unorganised actions taken in different directions can mobilize the power to conduct ritualistic intervention on immediate issues, but a party ridden with such a disease of disregarding Leninist policy cannot ever lead a revolution. From the discourse so far, it follows that the main question is that of ideological centralization which provides both the basis and strength for organizational centralization.
Not only Lenin, but Marx and Engels have also said that carrying out of a proletarian revolution by the working and toiling masses to overthrow the bourgeoisie is a completely centralized and unified act, in which the revolutionary forces may start off from varied points of departure and move ahead through countless bumpy and rough roads, but as far as their destination is concerned, they all head towards the “sole target point” in order to achieve maximum striking power, otherwise the victory of the proletariat in a class war would be impossible.
In all the earlier non-proletarian revolutions, the revolutionary class of the time (like the capitalist class who once overthrew feudalism) had gained power by developing its production relations amidst the old society before the revolution, whereas for the proletariat the situation is just opposite. Even after its victory, that is, in socialism too, he has to fight for a long time against the negatives and the remnants of capitalist relations. Therefore, for the completion of the proletarian revolution and the building up of socialism, a policy of proletarian centralism is required on the basis of a unified program. That is why it is said that a party dedicated to the emancipation of the working class cannot be lax and sloppy. It is the seat of the advanced detachment, that is the general headquarters of the proletariat armies (all organizations and their ranks under the leadership of the party of the working class), which constitutes of professional revolutionaries with the sole aim of successfully leading a class-war.
There are many people who resent and despise the iron discipline of working class. Obviously, such people consider the attempt to implement the policy of ideological and organizational centralism in a working-class party as bureaucracy and the dictatorship and terror of the Central Committee. The absence of an all-India party and fragmentation of the revolutionary forces provides space for such non-Leninist accusations. Those squeamish by the demand for iron discipline within a party of the proletariat or a pre-party organization often use this as an excuse that if a revolutionary group does not have the strength or ability to assemble the broad toiling masses, then it is ridiculous for them to talk of proletarian centralization. If any revolutionary group tries to implement Leninist principles, then on this basis they also ridicule it. We can also call it the democratic modishness of the present time.
The short and timely answer to these arguments may very well be that such people are often unaware about the history of the successful process of becoming a majority from a minority (being able to organise wider masses) without sacrificing revolutionary strategy (which can be seen in the success of the October Revolution) and on the other hand, as opposed to this, the history of failure of experiments, i.e., the failure of so-called ‘democratic’ experiments (which we can see in the failure of the Germans), conducted all over the world under the revolutionary strategy of the majority. They are unaware that an all-India revolutionary party, true to its name, cannot be formed after putting together an all-India party by whatever means possible, but actually by following the policy of proletarian centralism from the very beginning i.e., by putting the Leninist policy of becoming majority from minority to a rightful end.
It is possible that such a revolutionary (Leninist) party, as we have discussed above, may remain in the minority even after fighting a sacrificing battle for an extended period, often in peacetime, in order to staunchly defend revolutionary principles and standards, but this is exactly what helps it transform from a minority to a majority rapidly during the period of revolution, whereas the majority achieved by sacrificing revolutionary principles and standards in peacetime not only proves to be useless in the period of revolution but often becomes our shackles. Not only this, it also becomes the reason for the downfall of the party. Examples of both these things are present in history and we can easily learn from them if we want. Revolution can only be done by a party which can keep up the revolutionary practice in peace time as well as in revolutionary time by strictly following the policy of proletarian centralization. The party which cannot keep up a revolutionary practice in peace time, will not be able to suddenly, as if from out of nowhere, carry out a revolutionary practice in revolutionary times, let alone be proficient in it, and hence will not be able to lead the revolutionary masses in those stormy times. The present situation is of peacetime. The spontaneous fervour of the masses has neither properly manifested nor intensified yet. But the question before us is, if the fervour intensifies, and given the circumstances this is most likely to happen, are we adept in the kind of revolutionary behaviour that is required for such times? If we are not, and there is also no worry or restlessness or yearning to master it, then we can rest assured that when the revolutionary fervour is at its zenith, we will certainly not be in a position to lead it and will have no option other than trailing behind.
Those who run away from proletarian discipline eventually find shelter among the masses saying that revolution will be done by the toiling masses and not the party, since compared to the masses it is much smaller in size! It is absolutely true that the power to make a revolution happen lies only with the masses, but it is equally true that there is no pre-determined Grand Trunk Road which will lead them straight to revolution. Therefore, it is necessary for such force to unite with the strength of the masses, which not only has the theoretical but also practical experience and knowledge about how to successfully carry out revolution (especially in the revolutionary period where the fervour has intensified) while passing through rough roads, which will be full of sharp turns and sudden challenges. We also know that the period of revolutionary explosions cannot be brought about by the efforts of a party. Secondly, the proletarian revolution is not a conspiracy, but a natural result of the class struggle between capital and labour, the circumstances of which are themselves produced by capitalist plunder, daily and inevitably. It is no secret that capitalism itself is the result of the class struggle waged by it against feudalism. Similarly, it is also not hidden from anyone that socialism will be born out of the womb of capitalist development as a result of the conflict between the development of new productive forces and the old rooted production relations within capitalism. What we call a revolution is a phenomenon that plays a special role in the birth of new, fundamental and decisive changes. That is, the basis of a proletarian revolution is the deep and aggravating irreversible economic crisis of world capitalism, which the bourgeoisie cannot overcome, and which leads the ruination of the masses beyond an extent after which the only option left to them is revolution, i.e., the complete reorganisation of the present society. This is the reason why the alarm bells of revolution are first heard in the drawing rooms of the bourgeoisie.
What goes into the making of a party that sits on the crest of a mass uprising? It will be formed by a combination of the best revolutionaries who have been forged in the furnace of class struggles, are steeled, experienced and also equipped with theoretical knowledge. Class struggle is the fire which forges and steels such people and prepares them for the final task. The party has to earn a reputation among the public as a disciplined group that has emerged from that fire. The confidence of the people and vast experience of the revolutionary practice is what gives courage to lead the masses to their final destination through ever unknown and difficult paths. This is also the main link to move forward, due to the absence of which the sparks are dying out prematurely. That is why it is said that revolution is a science as well as an art in which both the party and the masses have to be adept. Those who deny it can do nothing but gossip and make things up.
How can we assimilate Lenin’s teaching of proletarian centralization? Proletarian centralization is based on true democracy, whereas bureaucracy is based on formal democracy. We can get an irrefutable image of this by comparing the capitalist democracy and proletarian democracy with concrete examples.
Both carry the word “democracy”, but the real meaning of the first (capitalist democracy) is capitalist dictatorship with democracy for a very small population of the bourgeoisie and its allies, and bureaucratic dictatorships for the rest. At the same time, the second (proletarian democracy) means the dictatorship of the proletariat in which there is democracy for the proletariat/working class, which means, democracy for a very large population, and the dictatorship of the toiling masses over the old rulers and exploiters. The goal of such a dictatorship is to curb the domination of capital that obstructs and stifles democracy. And so, it is quite different from all previous class dictatorships, both in form and content. In a proletarian dictatorship, the existence of bureaucracy as an instrument of governance becomes unnecessary, because it is replaced by something of a higher order – the initiative and scrutiny of the toiling masses in favour of maximum democracy and against the forces that obstruct it. Therefore, those who oppose proletarian centralization are actually not only, knowingly or unknowingly, opposing the dictatorship of the proletariat but also its historical mission.
Proletarian centralization is impossible without true democracy, just as formal democracy inevitably produces bureaucracy. Another name for the dictatorship of the proletariat is proletarian democracy, through which all can benefit, even those who were exploiters till yesterday, provided they learn to live on their own labour and be completely free from the tendency to violate the democracy of others. In this sense, it is the only future of all mankind. Because if the rule of capital or the bourgeoisie continues, then democracy for ninety-nine percent of the population would surely cease to exist. Their democracy can be regained only through the dictatorship of the proletariat (i.e., proletarian centralization).
Capitalist democracy, i.e., formal democracy, is dominated by an empire of stone-hearted bureaucrats who rob and extort the vast majority of the people. But it is presumed that all are equal before the law, be it a poor rickshaw-puller or a capitalist like Adani. So, there exists a close relationship between formal democracy and bureaucracy, and not between centralization and bureaucracy. Formal democracy talks about equality before law, but instead of cracking down on capital to guarantee equality, it helps the almighty capital which actually strangles equality and breeds inequality and, as a result of this, the hidden dictatorship of yesterday has transformed into the open dictatorship of today.
The word democracy itself is a misleading term. We must understand it in terms of class, that is, in its historical context. For example, the guarantee of complete democracy is related exclusively to the complete annihilation of the classes. What does this mean? It means that as soon as there is complete annihilation of classes, complete democracy will come, but as soon as the classes are annihilated completely, democracy will also end, because class will disappear, and so class antagonism will also disappear, and hence the need for infringing the rights of or suppressing any class will end.
How is proletarian centralization established? Lenin says – ”In its organization, the communist party seeks to achieve these organic ties through democratic centralism.” (From “Guidelines on the Organizational Structure of Communist Parties, on the Methods and Content of their Work” written by Lenin and passed by the Third Congress of the third Communist International)
Lenin gives an outline of democratic centralism’s general theory by explaining it in detail. Lenin speaks not of a heterogeneous mixture of democracy and centralism, but of proletarian democracy, i.e., a real synthesis or fusion of democracy and centralism, which is based on ”the constant common struggle of the entire party organization.” (ibid)
According to Lenin, this unified action and struggle is the centralism within the communist party organization. He further writes – “Centralization in the communist party organization does not mean a formal and mechanical centralization but rather a centralization of communist activity, i.e., building a leadership which is strong, quick to react and at the same time flexible. Formal or mechanical centralization would mean centralization of “power” in the hands of a party bureaucracy in order to dominate the rest of the membership or the masses of the revolutionary proletariat outside the party. But only enemies of communism can assert that the Communist Party wants to dominate the revolutionary proletariat through its leadership of proletarian class struggles and through the centralization of this communist leadership. This is a lie. Equally incompatible with the fundamental principles of democratic centralism adopted by the Communist International is a power struggle or a fight for domination within the party.” (ibid)
We are of the opinion that the tasks laid out by Lenin in order to imbibe the real task of party building should be viewed in the light of the ideological-political struggles that Lenin intensified in his time during and after the formation of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. A summary of those struggles, in the form of a document written by Lenin, was presented at the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921, which was issued to communist parties around the world.
It may be said, or opportunists often say, that the changing circumstances of the class struggle require changes in the organization of the Communist Party according to each country and its time. And this is also true. We Marxists-Leninists are not mechanical. But Lenin adds – “But this differentiation has definite limits. Despite all peculiarities, the identity of the conditions of the proletarian class struggle in the various countries and in the different phases of the proletarian revolution is of fundamental importance to the international communist movement. This identity constitutes the common basis for the organization of the communist parties of all countries.” (ibid)
Lenin also presents the similarities that he speaks of in the circumstances of the class struggle of the proletariat in different countries – “Common to the conditions of struggle of most communist parties and therefore to the Communist International as the overall party of the revolutionary world proletariat is that they must still struggle against the ruling bourgeoisie. For all the parties, victory over the bourgeoisie-wresting power from its hands-remains at present the key goal, giving direction to all their work. Accordingly, it is absolutely crucial that all organizational work of communist parties in the capitalist countries be considered from the standpoint of constructing an organization which makes possible and ensures the victory of the proletarian revolution over the possessing classes.” (ibid)
Lenin also answers the question of leadership with the same familiar frankness – “Every collective action, in order to be effective, requires a leadership. This is necessary above all for the greatest struggle of world history. The organization of the communist party is the organization of the communist leadership in the proletarian revolution. To lead well, the party itself must have good leadership. Our basic organizational task is accordingly the formation, organization and training of a communist party working under capable leading bodies to become the capable leader of the revolutionary working-class movement.” (ibid)
Regarding the most essential condition for the communist party to lead the revolutionary movement, Lenin says – “Leadership of the revolutionary class struggle presupposes, on the part of the communist party and its leading bodies, the organic tying together of the greatest possible striking power and the greatest ability to adapt to the changing conditions of struggle.
Moreover, successful leadership absolutely presupposes the closest ties with the proletarian masses. Without these ties the leadership will not lead the masses but will at best tail after them.” (ibid)
The kind of ideological chaos that prevails presently in the communist and working-class movement of India is deeply rooted and it is not possible to talk about them in totality, here and now. But it can be said that the Leninist principles regarding the organization of the communist party have been ignored for a long time in our movement. This requires a serious discussion.
We cannot ignore it any longer because the period of worldwide revolutionary crisis is about to come and the question of not only throwing the bourgeoisie out of power, but also transferring them and their rule to the epochs of history, will soon come on the immediate agenda of the working class. The key to face all this is embedded in the fact that if the bourgeoisie is to be defeated, then the principles of the Leninist unity of the revolutionaries must not only be revived, but they must also be strictly followed. We wish to reiterate here that proletarian centralization (real democracy), and not formal democracy, can increase the striking power of the forces of the working class. This is its mainstay. If we do not implement this, we cannot achieve true unity of the great powers of the proletariat. And then, of course, the proletariat cannot not win, even if the objective conditions for its victory are quite ripe.