Category Archives: India

The Many Dimensions of Primitive Accumulation: Farmers’ Suicides, Abdication of Responsibilities in the Narmada Resettlement

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C. N. Subramanian

We are today witness to the historical process which Marx had characterised as the ‘primitive accumulation of capital’. ‘The process, therefore, that clears the way for the capitalist system, can be none other than the process which takes away from the labourer the possession of his means of subsistence; a process that transforms, on the one hand, the social means of subsistence and of production into capital, on the other hand, the immediate producers into wage-labourers. The so called primitive accumulation, therefore, is nothing else than the historical process of divorcing the producer from the means of production. … (T)hese freedmen (peasants freed from feudal bondage – CNS) became sellers of themselves only after they had been robbed of all their own means of production, and of all the guarantees of existence afforded by the old feudal arrangements. And the history of this, their expropriation, is written in the annals of mankind in letters of blood and fire. … (T)hose moments when great masses of men are suddenly and forcibly torn from their means of subsistence, and hurled as free and ‘unattached’ proletarians on the labour-market (are epoch making revolutions in the history of primitive accumulation – CNS). The expropriation of the agricultural producer, of the peasant, from the soil, is the basis of the whole process. The history of this expropriation, in different countries assumes different aspects, and runs through its various phases in different orders of succession, and at different periods. [1]  (emphasis added)

Students of Indian agrarian economy for long have used Lenin’s paradigm of the expansion of commodity production leading to peasant differentiation and the dissolution of the old communal peasantry and the emergence of a stratified agrarian class structure with capitalist farmers and wage workers. This often appears as a gradual and purely ‘economic’ process, an outcome of the process of rationalisation unleashed by competition in the market. We need to realise that what is at hand is much more than a process of economic rationalisation, it is a process engendered by conscious policy choices and accompanied by the open use of force both legally sanctioned and otherwise. Tribal or peasant societies have a limited use for commerce which does not necessarily dissolve the traditional ties of kinship or relationship to land. Hence it is the use of deliberate policy sanctioned by power and brute force which eventually integrates these societies with capitalist commercialisation and expropriates them of their means of production and subsistence.

The current spate of ‘farmer suicides’ is spread over virtually all states of the country but is more centred in the dry agricultural belts. The minister for agriculture, informed Parliament that agrarian distress accounts for nearly 20% of all suicides in the country. Even the bourgeois press was persuaded to draw attention to the gravity of the problem and force the Prime Minister to visit the suicide hit districts and announce amelioration plans. It should be remembered that political analysts had pointed out that the downfall of the BJP government was essentially due to its insensitivity to the mounting agrarian distress. The magnitude of distress in the dry tracts like Vidarbha should not divert our attention from the fact that the core green revolution areas like the Punjab have seen unprecedented agrarian distress and suicides. [2] It is now widely recognised that this phenomenon is causally linked to the ongoing process of globalisation. The green revolution with its promise of scale free technology made the peasants dependent on capital intensive agriculture funded partly by public support through subsidised inputs. These subsidies in the long run have only benefited the industries by expanding their markets without any cost to themselves. The withdrawal of the subsidies under the pressure of the developed capitalist countries has not left the industries without a market as the peasants now just cannot do without their products. On the other hand it is the peasants who are bearing the burden of the withdrawn subsidy. This has made them dependent upon usury capital to sustain production on their farms. The relative decline or stagnation of agricultural prices caused by the dumping of agrarian products by the developed countries has aggravated the problem as the farmers are left with little to repay the local usurers. When the trend of farmer suicides began some years ago in Andhra Pradesh it was explained away as a result of crop failure resulting from defective or substandard seed or pesticide inputs. Similar explanations attributing the Vidarbha crises to monsoon failure have been given. It was suggested that the question was one of the public monitoring of standards of agrarian inputs, extension of the irrigation system or improved public banking and insurance services. The fact remains that the spread of farmer suicides questions all these assumptions.

During the first three or four decades of independence the Indian state adopted a policy of fostering a class of kulaks in agriculture by ensuring a favourable balance of trade and providing subsidised inputs. [3] This ensured that virtually the entire agrarian sector came within the ambit of capitalist commercialisation forcing the poor and middle peasants to to take to intensive commercial agriculture and participate in the market. This integration of small and middle peasants was further strengthened by the Green Revolution technology which was termed as scale neutral. Unlike the earlier strategy based on farm mechanisation which was viable only on large scale holdings, the new hybrid seed based strategy was regarded as viable even in small holdings provided the necessary inputs were available. In order to ensure acceptance of the new techniques the government expanded the bank and cooperative rural credit network and made available subsidised inputs and also kept up the agricultural prices through the mechanism of support price and public procurement. Precisely these have been withdrawn under the new globalised regime.

The strategy of fostering monoculture based on chemical fertilisers and pesticides has been an ecological disaster requiring the farmers to constantly increase the quantum of inputs with depleting soil fertility and sinking ground water levels. The chances of crop failure being high in the case of these crops (due to monoculture of hybrid varieties) and also susceptibility to volatile market pressures. This could be sustained only by making available cheap rural credit and subsidising inputs. Over the last decade the state has withdrawn subsidies on farm inputs forcing farmers to buy them at much higher costs. This has been accompanied by withdrawal of public support to rural banking as a result of which even loans for short term input purchases declined sharply. The farmers have had to resort to local private usury capital for such loans or depend upon unscrupulous traders who sold substandard inputs at exorbitant prices but on credit. Over the last decade agricultural prices have by and large stagnated as the support prices have remained relatively stable and public procurement declined due to overstocked godowns. This has triggered the present agrarian crisis. The universal pattern has been that the farmers have accumulated huge debts, unable to withstand either crop failures or price fluctuations, and without credit for raising the next crop have decided to end their lives rather than face the ignominy of facing the usurers.

Strangely enough most of the accounts of farmer suicides do not tell us about the strata to which they belonged – the rich, middle or the poor strata. However it seems that most of them belong to the middle peasant strata.  This is to be expected as it is this strata which has been blindly led into the debt trap and finds itself without any other source of employment to support itself. However, it should be noted that the distress is not confined to this strata alone but pervades the entire agrarian sector.

The response of the state to this crisis has been promising cosmetic sops and a few structural changes of far reaching import. The latter include opening up of agricultural marketing to corporate houses in general and to multinational agribusinesses in particular. This has taken two important forms – of direct intervention in purchase of agricultural produce (much to the discomfiture of traditional traders) and contract farming. The Imperial Tobacco Company (ITC) Reliance etc. are rapidly intruding into rural markets buying agricultural produce and also selling inputs. This is a phenomenon which has begun only in the recent past and has already pushed up agricultural prices. The second phenomenon of contract farming – by which farmers of a large area bind themselves to companies for production of specific crops (under close the supervision of the contracting company) over a crop season. The contracting company assures inputs and market and a predictable price at least for the crop season. Both these trends which are being encouraged greatly and seem to address some of problems being faced by the farmers. In effect they seek to ensure control of the multinationals and corporate houses over agrarian production and peasant labour. This is but a step away from the alienation of land to them and reducing the peasants to mere wage labourers on their own lands.

We have had occasion to comment on the Narmada dam issue. In one of our earlier issues we had been hopeful that the movement of the Narmada dam oustees will be successful in rolling back the dam project. It was when the movement had got an injunction from the Supreme Court stopping construction of the dam. Since then we have been witness to the systematic abdication by the Supreme Court of its responsibility of protecting the lives and livelihoods of the citizens and going back on its own rulings and commitments in the case. The Supreme Court and the Government of India have an obligation to ensure that the resettlements measures have been fulfilled before the dam levels are raised. It is precisely this that the two of them decided to throw to the winds and permit the construction of the dam beyond the stipulated height before the onset of the monsoon. They have ordered the continuation of the construction of the dam while even acknowledging that the resettlement is yet to be complete and also that it may not be possible to compensate the victims as per the Narmada Tribunal award. This effectively seals the fate of the people of the Narmada valley and also of the movement that shook the conscience of the nation. This once again points to the truth of Marx’s contention that the Primitive Accumulation of capital is accompanied by blood and fire and plunder.

Endnotes:

1. K. Marx, ‘Capital’ I, Moscow, 1977, pp 668-70.

2. Readers may refer to the special issue of Economic and Political Weekly devoted to Suicides by farmers; EPW XLI, No. 16 (April 2006) for detailed discussions on the subject.

3. Ashok Mitra, ‘Terms of Trade and Class Relations’, Calcutta, 1979, pp 106-121

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Revisiting the Kashmir Issue

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Nirmalangshu Mukherji

In a just world order, rights of self-determination of people, including the right of independence, ought to be viewed as a basic and absolute value. As with most moral principles, however, the actual implementation of such demands raises difficult issues since they always arise in a historical context of an unjust distribution of rights. In other words, the demand for self-determination arises precisely because it has not been met so far, rendering the context in which the demand arises as an unjust one. We will briefly examine the right of self-determination of people in Kashmir from this perspective.

In that unjust context, dimensions of external control intervene with people’s rights for decades — sometimes, over centuries. These controls not only generate vested interests for the agencies of control, typically they curb people’s ability to voice their demand to the point that sections of people internalise the features of control and begin to demobilise on the issue of self-determination. As a result, people themselves get divided. The agencies of control are then able to use this fact to perpetuate their control in the name of people. The historical passage of time is a crucial aspect of the scenario just sketched. We will look briefly at Iraq to get a sense of the issue before we turn to Kashmir.

In Iraq, the imposition of (current) external control is recent, brutal, and clearly linked to the vested interests of US foreign policy around control over oil. The imperialist aggression stands fully exposed; thus, the people subjected to massive violence stand united in their opposition to US occupation. Reliable polls suggest that 1% of the Iraqi population welcome the US presence in Iraq while over 80% demand an immediate end to US occupation; the rest varying on when they want the occupying forces to withdraw. Even with the tiny minority who demand a phased withdrawal of US forces, it stands to reason that their apprehensions about the fallout of immediate withdrawal is directly linked to the chaotic state of Iraqi society caused by US aggression itself.

For the sake of argument, imagine a grim (and hopefully false) scenario in which the US, assisted by the client Iraqi regime, is able to perpetuate its crimes in Iraq for several more years. During this period, suppose some semblance of order and stability returns in the natural course: some oil money is used to restore the food and the health systems; water and electricity return to normal flow; people are able to engage in some trade inside and outside Iraq; tourists return; some institutions, including education institutions, begin to function; violence in the streets is reduced; the resistance is partly broken; US forces mostly stay in barracks close to oil installations; an increasing number of people begin to queue up in US-sponsored elections.

In this scenario, it is quite likely that the minority of the currently wavering population will increase several fold. Citing favourable polls, the US will then be in a position to claim that US presence is needed to bolster stability and (democratic) order in Iraq. Nevertheless, it is clear that nothing changes in so far as the absolute value of the people’s right to self-determination is concerned. Violent enforcement of external control for long periods of time to drive people to exasperation and apparent conformity is a tested strategy of occupying forces with superior gun power. For the same reason, it is of utmost importance that the current resistance in Iraq continues to grow under the common command of the people; this is also a tested method of rendering unsustainable the tested strategy of the occupying forces.

Two other features of current Iraq are relevant here. First, there is no doubt that Iraq is a divided society with at least three contending parties: the sunnis, the shias, and the Kurds. But the division between the people of Iraq cannot be an argument against self-determination. We may have opinions on the further dismemberment of Iraq or on unsustainable alliances between the parties. But it is for the people of Iraq to choose which course they wish to adopt. Second, when the right of self-determination is viewed as an absolute value, the character of resistance to imperialism is also of no concern. Once again it is for the Iraqi people to choose what they feel is the right form of resistance. Historically, the choice could well turn out to be a mistaken one; but then it is again up to the Iraqi people to correct the course.

To sum up, the right of self-determination cannot be withheld even if (a) some sections of the population do not desire it any more, typically out of duress, (b) the people in the relevant region are divided, and (c) the character of resistance to external rule is questionable. We recall that the British used each of these to postpone independence until the circumstances arising out of the second war and liberation of people around the globe forced the British to leave India.

In a recent article posted in Znet (‘Is independence a viable option for Jammu and Kashmir?’, 24 January, www.znet.org), Badri Raina, as the title suggests, has raised the issues the British raised for decades before they were compelled to withdraw from India. The interest of this piece is that the author belongs to the left, and Znet is a well-known platform for left-wing opinion. The arguments therefore are more refined than a mere imperial assertion of the following kind: Kashmir belongs to us because some raja signed some piece of paper. The net effect, however, remains the same.

Raina raises versions of each of (a) to (b) above as an opposition to ‘the formulation that militancy and violence could not justly be expected to be shut down till the right to ‘self-determination’ was granted’ (note that the expression ‘self-determination’ is used with quotes by Raina). He also raises versions of (c): ‘how long can the valley then resist the push to theocratise both state and polity in that ‘independent’ situation. Surely, both Kashmiris and the Indian state have big stakes in all this.’ But since Raina produced no facts to support this view, I will ignore this part of his essay.

The Polls

Raina’s first argument, a version of (a), concerns a poll conducted by the MORI International organisation that ‘covered all regions, urban and rural, of the three provinces of the Jammu & Kashmir State.’ Although Raina thinks of the MORI Foundation as ‘a reputed agency by all accounts’, he does not mention that the foundation is US-based. Raina also cites another poll subsequently conducted by Synovate India which covered just the valley.

In what follows, I will focus on the MORI poll since, as Raina observed, it covered ‘all regions.’ Further, the focus on MORI is justified because Raina begins this part of his essay with the condition that ‘whatever resolutions are debated or found  must pertain to the entire state of Jammu & Kashmir rather than  merely any discrete part.’ I return to the implications of imposing this condition on any ‘debate’ later. For now, obeying Raina’s condition, it is obvious that the findings of the MORI poll are directly relevant. Also, I will take the validity of the findings for granted.

The part of MORI results which has drawn world-wide attention, and flagged repeatedly by Raina, suggests that 61 per cent feel that they would be better off politically and economically as Indian citizens, and only 6 per cent feel that they would be so as Pakistani citizens. Raina comments: ‘by no stretch of the imagination then can it be argued that the overwhelming sentiment in the state of Jammu & Kashmir is for  “sovereign, secular, independence.”  ‘However much as these findings might shock some knowledgeable peddlers of the “Kashmir Question,”’ Raina continues, ‘those are the facts.’

Praful Bidwai (‘Wanted: policy, not hubris’, Frontline, July 6, 2002) points out two related problems with the results. First, ‘the overwhelming majority of those who would prefer to be Indian citizens belong to Jammu and Ladakh, not to the Valley. The “don’t know” answers to the question are concentrated in Srinagar.’ To elaborate, whereas 99 per cent of respondents in Jammu and 100 per cent in Leh felt they would be better off as Indian citizens, 78 per cent of those in Srinagar said they did not know while 9 per cent felt they would be better off as Indian citizens and 13 per cent as Pakistani citizens.’ Bidwai explains: ‘the 78 per cent “don’t knows” clearly include a large number who subscribe to azadi or that version of it which equals autonomy or independence from India, but who reject merger with Pakistan. Given that the core Kashmir problem is about the Valley, this is a sobering thought.’

Second, Bidwai observes that ‘the critical issue within Jammu and Kashmir is not just “free and fair” elections, but inclusive and free elections.’ In other words, ‘fairness in determining the popular will can mean very little unless the electoral process involves the broadly representative spectrum of political opinion in the State.’ As a matter of fact, several currents of opinion have just not been allowed to function in Jammu and Kashmir for decades. This fact, combined with decades of violence resulting in nearly a hundred thousand civilian casualties, untold economic misery, and the general alienation of people from articulated political process, explain the staggering figure of ‘don’t knows’, which, as Bidwai pointed out, is crucial for understanding the situation in Kashmir.

Raina is entirely silent about this part of the MORI findings. As noted, his strategy is to build up on the fact that these findings are restricted to the valley, hence they are irrelevant in view of the ‘all regions’ condition imposed by him. Further, the ‘don’t knows’ don’t count since, according to him, ‘unarticulated private predilections of any group of people in any part of the state  cannot be authorized agenda as the problem is addressed.’ In other words, first we are advised to overlook the historical conditions which have led to ‘unarticulated’ opinion in vast sections of the people; then we are advised to ignore the opinion since it is ‘unarticulated.’

Raina has another strategy to defray this ‘sobering’ aspect of MORI findings: for the valley, instead of depending on the MORI poll, he shifts to the Synovate poll taken three tears later in 2005, despite his ‘all regions’ condition, and juxtaposes these results with that of the (inconvenient) MORI poll. According to the later poll, 36.2% Kashmiris in the Valley and Rajouri (equally muslim dominated) prefer the India option. This enabled Raina to conclude from articulated opinion that ‘by no stretch of the imagination then can it be argued that the overwhelming sentiment in the state of Jammu & Kashmir is for  “sovereign, secular, independence.”’ Setting aside the algebraic issue of whether the remaining 63.8% represent ‘overwhelming sentiment’, recall the historical feature of (a) that, as time flows and the prospects of attaining basic rights recede, people are likely to resign to less desirable options in the absence of organised democratic struggle.

The period between 2002 and 2005 – the post 9/11 world – has seen a setback to people’s democratic struggles in these parts of the world. Specifically, the turn around in Pakistan’s Kashmir policy under US pressure, the continuing violence and economic misery, the sectarian character of the jehadi groups, and the opportunism of Hurriyat and other political parties, on the one hand, and the limited restoration of the electoral process and opening up of some economic activity, on the other, could have led to an increase in the resigned opinion. In other words, there is no evidence that the crucial democratic test of ‘fairness in determining the popular will’, advocated by Bidwai, has been met. By adopting the synchronic perspective, Raina has failed to appreciate the historical condition of people under duress.

Division of people?

Turning to (b) above, let us examine the validity of Raina’s ‘all regions’ condition. As noted, Raina has a two-pronged argument: (A) people in the valley do not have the ‘overwhelming sentiment’ against India; (B) taking all regions into consideration, the ‘overwhelming sentiment’ is for India. Combining the effects of (A) and (B), Raina’s ill-concealed message is that, even if (A) is false, (B) takes precedence. In other words, even if the people in the valley are overwhelmingly against India (and for independence), we should ignore their opinion since people in the region as a whole want to remain in India. Raina puts the message rhetorically as follows: ‘how is the desire for “independence” of half the valley’s population to be squared with the overwhelming opinion in the valley?’ The additional argument that (A) could well be true just bolsters Raina’s strategy. We saw that (A) is not likely to be true. This leaves the entire burden of Raina’s argument on (B) alone – the ‘all regions’ condition.

Since the ‘all regions’ condition looks like a classic, pre-emptive, statist move to defray any demand for secession, the leftist Raina needs to find ‘democratic’ arguments in support of the condition. Along with much rhetoric, he weaves in two facts: (1) “people in all regions are in general agreement that ‘the unique cultural identity of Jammu and Kashmir — Kashmiriyat — should be preserved in any long-term solution. Overall, 81% agree, including 76% in Srinagar’; (2)  An overwhelming 92% oppose the state of Kashmir being divided on the basis of religion or ethnicity.’ So the argument is that, since a vast majority of people wish to uphold ‘Kashmiriyat’ and are against the division of Kashmir on religious or ethnic grounds, the demand for independence by a section of the population ought to take the backseat. In fact, those who demand independence while upholding (1) and (2) – there must be some given the numbers – are plainly inconsistent, and hence, they can be ignored.

Notice first that the charge of inconsistency assumes that if the people in the valley wish to secede from the Indian state, they would be doing so on religious or ethnic grounds. Once we decide to look at people’s movements only through communal or sectarian lenses, we lose sight of the basic historical issue that vast sections of people may simply to wish to secede from a State. It is the Indian state the people in the valley are against, the state that is seen to have confiscated their own statehood first by fraudulent means by entering into an undemocratic pact with a raja, and then by half a century of accelerating repression. If religion were the issue, the valley would have preferred the Pakistan option which is overwhelmingly rejected by the people in the valley, as the MORI findings cited by Raina show.

In fact, the charge of inconsistency – if not downright sectarianism – applies to Raina himself. Having argued in favour of the view expressed in (B), Raina also argues strongly in favour of turning the current Line of Control into a state boundary since ‘Kashmiris that live in what is called the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir are not Kashmiri-speaking, barring a sprinkling, and even within the valley there never has been much love lost between the Kashmiri-speaking muslim Kashmiris and those that are non-Kashmiri-speaking Mirpuris or Punjabis! If anything, it is the Pandits who tend to be missed as blood brothers!  Wheels within wheels, you might say.’ Setting aside the issue of truth-content of these remarks, Raina is now clearly advocating a division of Kashmir on ethnic lines in contradiction to the stated position in (B).

I am not suggesting that there is no tension between the desire for unity of all Kashmir on the basis of Kashmiriyat and conflicting region-wise opinion on the issue of secession from India. But the difficult task of resolving this and other conflicts bestows on the people of Kashmir when they prepare to exercise their right of self-determination with freedom and dignity. When the conditions for exercising the will of the people occur, all parties have the right to approach the people with their opinion. But, ultimately, the people must give the verdict on how they wish the difficult issues to be resolved. The right of self-determination, in other words, is supreme and absolute.

It is interesting that Raina barely touches the fundamental issue of self-determination, and restricts his discussion only to what he considers to be hurdles in ‘granting’ independence to the people in the valley. Again, the message is ill-concealed. If independence is not admissible in the first place, people in the valley lose the right to exercise this option. Once they lose the right to exercise a specific option, the general right to exercise any option loses meaning. Hence, the people in the valley do not (really) have the right of self-determination. As a result Raina holds that ‘the right to secession,’ which was ‘at one time a part of the theoretical repertoire of the undivided Left in India’ needs to be revised by the division of the current left to which Raina belongs. In the revised picture, basic rights of the people are viewed by Raina as ‘nothing but another form of Idealism,’ ‘a thin ground’ for ‘granting secession’. So what was viewed as part of the basic theory of the ‘undivided left’ turns into a dispensible rhetoric for that strand of the left which views the stakes for the Indian state as higher than the people who inhabit that state.

Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi

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Subhas Chandra Bose in Nazi Germany

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Subhas Chandra Bose meeting Hitler

Sisir K. Majumdar

It was probably in Germany that Subhas Chandra Bose (1897-1945) was first known as ‘Netaji’, which literally means ‘leader of leaders’ (‘Führer’ is the equivalent German expression). The period of his stay in Germany was from April 1941 to February 1943. These ‘Berlin Years’ of Netaji are still a riddle for most of his objective and biased biographers. It is still a puzzle how a self-respecting and dynamic personality could put up for two long years with an inhuman fascist clique which desperately tried to submerge the whole of humanity in rivers of blood. But it is beyond any shadow of doubt that he was solely and unequivocally guided by one desire– the liberation of his mother India from the cruel clutches of British colonialism.

Germany and India: The prime idea which motivated Netaji was to explore all possible means for achieving the cherished goal of India’s independence. It seems that he had adopted the concept that the ‘enemy’s enemy is your friend’. He looked at Nazi Germany solely from that perspective. It followed the approach taken by Indian revolutionaries towards German during the First World War. However, the Germany of the Second World War was very different, even with respect to India. After the defeat of Germany in the First World war, the ambition of Germany was to bring about a global redistribution of colonies with the goal of establishing German supremacy on the world stage. Vis-à-vis India, a plan was hatched to form an ‘Afghan Army’ to invade India after the possible defeat of the Soviet Union in order to snatch ‘the jewel of the British Empire’. The idea of India’s independence was no where in German strategic consideration. Indeed, Germany had a long standing covetous eye towards India, and its sympathy and support for India’s struggle for independence was always superficial, and fluctuated with the changing situations on the war front, especially on the Russian front. Netaji was completely unaware of this behind the scene conspiracy. He did not seem to think about this seriously enough initially, and remained blindly optimistic about the German attitude for quite some time.

Low-key Reception: When Netaji arrived in Germany in April 1941, he was received by a low-ranking official of the Foreign Department. He was disappointed at this first encounter. Of course his hotel accommodation was fairly luxurious, with an easy telephonic link to high officials. But he had to wait for more than a year to meet the Führer personally. In the meantime, constant clashes of perceptions on the Indian situation between Netaji and his German hosts became routine. He was confused and bewildered from time to time.

Meeting with Foreign Ministry: Netaji met the higher officials of the Foreign Department on April 3, 1941, and expressed his desire to form an ‘Indian Government in Exile’ and expected its immediate diplomatic recognition from the Axis Powers. He was keen to form an Indian Army with the Indian prisoners of war from North Africa. As requested, he submitted a draft proposal on April 9, 1941. It contained the following (i) The Axis Powers would sign a treaty with the ‘Free Indian Government in Exile’ guaranteeing India’s independence from British rule once the war was won; (ii) The Indian Army would consist of 50,000 soldiers of Indian origin; (iii) After liberating India, Germany would hand over responsibility to the Government in Exile headed by Netaji himself.

However, Netaji probably failed to realize that the Germans might have their own plans regarding India. The German perception had to be different. Agreeing with Netaji’s plan virtually amounted to the declaration of India’s independence as one of the aims of the war. Netaji was no longer a leader of the Indian National Congress which was leading India’s independence movement on India’s soil. Forming an Indian government in exile would antagonize the leaders and the people of India. This would not have offered any political dividend to Germany. The Germans were reluctant to discuss any military plan with Netaji in advance of liberating India. He did not have access to Germany’s war plans, and he provided an opportunity to be used for German expansionist ambitions in India.

Netaji was considered merely a refugee leader who happened to be in exile in Berlin and not ‘the Leader of the great Indian Nation’. He was more an object of sympathy rather than of authority to dictate terms or to influence directions. He was at best treated as an honourable guest; and all guests have limitations in the host’s place; Netaji was no exception.

The Turning Point: The invasion of Russia was being planned. Netaji probably came to know about it; he sent a memorandum to the Germans pleading that the status quo be maintained with Russia in order to achieve total destruction of the British in the Near and Middle East. He was completely against the invasion of the Soviet Union. Netaji met the German Foreign Minister J. Von Ribbentrop, and is reported to have told him emphatically that Indian public opinion was against German fascism, and was sympathetic to the socialist Soviet Union. He insisted with Ribbentrop on a German declaration for India’s independence. Ribbentrop asked lots of intriguing questions about the internal situation in India, and only made a verbal commitment to consider Netaji’s proposal, and promised to arrange another meeting. This did not take place for another seven months. He could not arrange to see Hitler, and did not get what he wanted from Ribbentrop, but he did not lose hope.

Netaji prepared and sent a draft declaration of India’s independence to the German authorities on May 13, 1941, and wanted it published. The declaration envisioned that the people of India would themselves decide on the future constitution of India after she was liberated, and Germany would accept this absolute right. Germany would take full responsibility to liberate India, and after liberation, would recognize that government of independent India. On May 24, he was informed that the time was not right for the publication of such a document. Netaji was told that instead, he could set up the ‘Free India Centre’ in Berlin. Ten million Reichmarks were allotted as a ‘loan’ for the centre, and a monthly allowance of 12,000 Reichmarks was sanctioned for his personal expenses. In spite of this generous hospitality, he was feeling stifled. His movements were under constant surveillance, his telephone was tapped, his letters were opened and censored. He seemed to be locked in an iron cage, an unbearable condition for ‘the Springing Tiger’.

Holiday in Rome: Netaji went on a visit to Rome in May 1941, and stayed there for six weeks with his newly married wife Emilie Schenkl. He also met the then Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano, and discussed with him the draft declaration. Ciano took Netaji to the Duce Benito Mussolini on May 5, 1941. Italy at the time was only a puppet of Germany, and too weak to take any independent decision on anything.

On June 22, 1941, Germany invaded Soviet Russia, and the whole political table was turned around. On August 15, 1941, he wrote a long letter to Ribbentrop and pointed out in the strongest possible words that the German invasion of the Soviet Union would be viewed by Indians as the beginning of as invasion of the East, and therefore Germany would be regarded as the enemy of India. he again insisted on the publication of the draft declaration, and his request was again turned down. There was another meeting with Ribbentrop on November 29, 1941. Netaji requested him to arrange a meeting with Hitler, but Ribbentrop made no commitment. He also pointed out the offensive comment made by Hitler in his book ‘Mein Kampf’, and demanded its immediate correction. Part of this particular comment reads as follows: ‘… Quite aside from the fact that I as a man of Germanic blood, would in spite of everything, rather see India under English rule than any other.’ [1] Netaji was unable to persuade Hitler to amend this offensive comment.

Japan Enters the War: The Japanese declaration of war against Great Britain and the US on December 7, 1941, coupled with the advance of the Japanese army towards the Indian frontier radically altered the war situation. The German Foreign Minister prepared a draft declaration on India without any consultation with Netaji. Japan also prepared one. There was an understandable difference in attitude towards India in Germany and Japan, and Netaji tried to cash in on this rift by again insisting on the publication of his own draft declaration. Ribbentrop, however, was interested in using him for Nazi propaganda, and for the invasion of Soviet Union. Netaji, as clever as he was, surely realized that he was in the wrong company in Berlin to achieve the right objective, and also that the world and future history would portray him as an ally of the hated fascist clique. He decided to leave for the Far East. Many historians assign his decision to the failure of Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1942. In fact, he wanted to be nearer home when Japan decided to invade India so that he could be physically available to offer leadership to the people and the prisoners of war of Indian origin in South East Asia. He came to know from the Italian Foreign Minister Ciano on May 4, 1942, that the publication of his draft declaration on India had again been postponed. He was very disappointed. But he had to swallow this indifference silently and with subdued anger.

Encounter with Hitler: It happened on May 29, 1942 at the Reich Chancellery. Though a few other ministers like Ribbentrop were present, Hitler was the sole actor at the show. He seemed to have been reasonably briefed in advance by his military intelligence on the internal situation in India. After an exchange of initial formalities, Hitler gave a long lecture on the world situation of the day. He spoke extensively on the Soviet threat to India once she was freed from the British, and euphorically boasted that for Germany, it is only possible to reach India over ‘the dead body of Russia’. It was more a ‘talking shop’ staged with racial hatred and national chauvinism, banal boasting and empty threats. Netaji firmly drew attention to the comments in ‘Mein Kampf’, and advised Hitler to make a public declaration on his stand and intentions about India. He noted that otherwise enemies would use his comments in the book for anti-German propaganda. But Hitler was not interested in continuing on this topic. He stated that it would take 1-2 years for Germany to spread its influence over India, and for India herself it would take 100-200 years to put her house in order and for reconstruction to achieve Indian unity. Instead of amending his stand on India, he proudly reiterated his well known ugly racist chauvinism against India. In his talk with Netaji, Hitler gave sufficient indications about his expansionist intentions towards India. It was not clear whether Netaji understood it and took it seriously. Possibly, at that juncture of history, there was no other alternative for him but to depend on the devil. Hitler did reassure Netaji that if and when German forces reached the Indian frontier, he would be invited to set foot on Indian soil in the company of German liberators to trigger ‘the revolution’. It was an empty promise and a cruel joke.

It was not a meeting of two national leaders, rather it was a frosty encounter between Hitler the demon-genius and Netaji, a nationalist giant. Netaji spoke very little to his colleagues in Berlin about his unpleasant meeting with Hitler, except that it was not possible to continue a logical dialogue with him. After this episode, Netaji seemed to awaken from his illusion about Hitler.

Within certain limitations he was allowed to pursue his organizational work, and he was able to mobilize Indians living in Germany at the time under the banner of the Free India Centre (total members: 35) with an avowed allegiance to Netaji personally and not to India. It was an granted diplomatic status with fabulous financial grants. One important activity of his in Germany was the formation of the first unit of what he thought would be the future Indian army recruited from the Indian prisoners of war from North Africa. In forming this he had the idea that: it would not be a part of the German military; it would be self sufficient; it would only fight against the British army on Indian soil and not on any other front or country; and, it could not be engaged at the German-Soviet front. But recruitment was very slow. Only 3,500, less than one third of the total Indian prisoners of war from North Africa, were recruited. They took an oath of allegiance to both Netaji and Hitler. This paved the way for using this Indian legion in other war fronts. Contrary to his wishes, after Netaji left Germany this legion was dispatched to Holland and France to perform various military duties.

The Final Departure: Even after deciding to leave Germany for the Far East, Netaji wasted one whole year in Berlin only to meet Hitler. He was held up by the Germans because they wanted to use him in the event of a German victory over Russia. He was allowed to leave only after the German surrender in Stalingrad, and Hitler’s secret plan for India fell apart. The long journey to the Far East was very dangerous. He boarded a German submarine (U Boat) on February 8, 1943 from Kiel with another Indian colleague, Abid Hassan, leaving behind his wife and only child, daughter Anita, and many well wishers in Germany.

[1] Mein Kampf: The National Socialist Movement by A. Hitler, translated by Ralph Manheim; Hutchinson, London, 1974, reprinted 1990; p.601.

Courtesy: ‘South Asia Forum Quarterly’, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1997, Chery Chase, Maryland, pp. 10-14.

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V.I. Lenin on Imperialism and Opportunism in Developed Countries

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“Here we must ask: how is the persistence of such trends in Europe to be explained? Why is this opportunism stronger in Western Europe than in our country? It is because the culture of the advanced countries has been, and still is, the result of their being able to live at the expense of a thousand million oppressed people. It is because the capitalists of these countries obtain a great deal more in this way than they could obtain as profits by plundering the workers in their own countries.

Before the war, it was calculated that the three richest countries – Britain, France and Germany – got between eight and ten thousand million francs a year from the export of capital alone, apart from other sources.

It goes without saying that, out of this tidy sum, at least five hundred millions can be spent as a sop to the labour leaders and the labour aristocracy, i.e., on all sorts of bribes. The whole thing boils down to nothing but bribery. It is done in a thousand different ways: by increasing cultural facilities in the largest centres, by creating educational institutions, and by providing co-operative, trade union and parliamentary leaders with thousands of cushy jobs. This is done where-ever present-day civilised capitalist relations exist. It is these thousands of millions in superprofits that form the economic basis of opportunism in the working-class movement. In America, Britain and France we see a far greater persistence of the opportunist leaders, of the upper crust of the working class, the labour aristocracy; they offer stronger resistance to the Communist movement. That is why we must be prepared to find it harder for the European and American workers’ parties to get rid of this disease than was the case in our country. We know that enormous successes have been achieved in the treatment of this disease since the Third International was formed, but we have not yet finished the job; the purging of the workers’ parties, the revolutionary parties of the proletariat all over the world, of bourgeois influences, of the opportunists in their ranks, is very far from complete.

I shall not dwell on the concrete manner in which we must do that; that is dealt with in my published theses. My task consists in indicating the deep economic roots of this phenomenon. The disease is a protracted one; the cure takes longer than the optimists hoped it would. Opportunism is our principal enemy. Opportunism is the upper ranks of the working-class movement is bourgeois socialism, not proletarian socialism. It has been shown in practice that working-class activists who follow the opportunist trend are better defenders of the bourgeoisie than the bourgeois themselves. Without their leadership of the workers, the bourgeoisie could not remain in power. This has been proved, not only by the history of the Kerensky regime in Russia; it has also been proved by the democratic republic in Germany under its Social-Democratic government, as well as by Albert Thomas’s attitude towards his bourgeois government. It has been proved by similar experience in Britain and the United States. This is where our principal enemy is, an enemy we must overcome. We must leave this Congress firmly resolved to carry on this struggle to the very end, in all parties. That is our main task.”

[….]

“I would also like to emphasise the importance of revolutionary work by the Communist parties, not only in their own, but also in the colonial countries, and particularly among the troops employed by the exploiting nations to keep the colonial peoples in subjection.

Comrade Quelch of the British Socialist Party spoke of this in our commission. He said that the rank-and-file British worker would consider it treasonable to help the enslaved nations in their uprisings against British rule. True, the jingoist and chauvinist-minded labour aristocrats of Britain and America present a very great danger to socialism, and are a bulwark of the Second International. Here we are confronted with the greatest treachery on the part of leaders and workers belonging to this bourgeois International. The colonial question has been discussed in the Second International as well. The Basle Manifesto [49] is quite clear on this point, too. The parties of the Second International have pledged themselves to revolutionary action, but they have given no sign of genuine revolutionary work or of assistance to the exploited and dependent nations in their revolt against the oppressor nations. This, I think, applies also to most of the parties that have withdrawn from the Second International and wish to join the Third International. We must proclaim this publicly for all to hear, and it is irrefutable. We shall see if any attempt is made to deny it.”

[….]

“Then Crispien went on to speak of high wages. The position in Germany, he said, is that the workers are quite well off compared with the workers in Russia or in general, in the East of Europe. A revolution, as he sees it, can be made only if it does not worsen the workers’ conditions ‘too much.’ Is it permissible, in a Communist Party, to speak in a tone like this, I ask? This is the language of counter-revolution. The standard of living in Russia is undoubtedly lower than in Germany, and when we established the dictatorship, this led to the workers beginning to go more hungry and to their conditions becoming even worse. The workers’ victory cannot be achieved without sacrifices, without a temporary deterioration of their conditions. We must tell the workers the very opposite of what Crispien has said. If, in desiring to prepare the workers for the dictatorship, one tells them that their conditions will not be worsened ‘too much’, one is losing sight of the main thing, namely, that it was by helping their “own” bourgeoisie to conquer and strangle the whole world by imperialist methods, with the aim of thereby ensuring better pay for themselves, that the labour aristocracy developed. If the German workers now want to work for the revolution they must make sacrifices, and not be afraid to do so.

In the general and world-historical sense, it is true that in a backward country like China, the coolie cannot bring about a proletarian revolution; however, to tell the workers in the handful of rich countries where life is easier, thanks to imperialist pillage, that they must be afraid of ‘too great’ impoverishment, is counter-revolutionary. It is the reverse that they should be told. The labour aristocracy that is afraid of sacrifices, afraid of ‘too great’ impoverishment during the revolutionary struggle, cannot belong to the Party. Otherwise the dictatorship is impossible, especially in West-European countries.”

[….]

“The comrades have emphasised that the labour aristocracy is stronger in Britain than in any other country. That is true. After all, the labour aristocracy has existed in Britain, not for decades but for centuries. The British bourgeoisie, which has had far more experience – democratic experience – than that of any other country, has been able to buy workers over and to create among them a sizable stratum, greater than in any other country, but one that is not so great compared with the masses of the workers. This stratum is thoroughly imbued with bourgeois prejudices and pursues a definitely bourgeois reformist policy. In Ireland, for instance, there are two hundred thousand British soldiers who are applying ferocious terror methods to suppress the Irish. The British Socialists are not conducting any revolutionary propaganda among these soldiers, though our resolutions clearly state that we can accept into the Communist International only those British parties that conduct genuinely revolutionary propaganda among the British workers and soldiers. I emphasise that we have heard no objections to this either here or in the commissions.”

– V.I. Lenin, “The Second Congress of the Communist International”

William Blum on Stalin’s Death Tolls

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“We’ve all heard the figures many times…10 million…20 million…40 million…60 million…died under Stalin. But what does the number mean, whichever number you choose? Of course many people died under Stalin, many people died under Roosevelt….Dying appears to be a natural phenomenon in every country. The question is how did those people die under Stalin? Did they die from the famines that plagued the USSR in the 1920s and 30s? Did the Bolsheviks deliberately create those famines? How? Why? More people certainly died in India in the 20th century from famines than in the Soviet Union, but no one accuses India of the mass murder of its own citizens. Did the millions die from disease in an age before antibiotics? In prison? From what causes? People die in prison in the United States on a regular basis. Were millions actually murdered in cold blood? If so, how? How many were criminals executed for non-political crimes? The logistics of murdering tens of millions of people is daunting.”

 – William Blum. Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire. Common Courage Press. 2005. p. 194.

Marx on Hindusim

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“Now, sickening as it must be to human feeling to witness those myriads of industrious patriarchal and inoffensive social organizations disorganized and dissolved into their units, thrown into a sea of woes, and their individual members losing at the same time their ancient form of civilization, and their hereditary means of subsistence, we must not forget that these idyllic village-communities, inoffensive though they may appear, had always been the solid foundation of Oriental despotism, that they restrained the human mind within the smallest possible compass, making it the unresisting tool of superstition, enslaving it beneath traditional rules, depriving it of all grandeur and historical energies. We must not forget the barbarian egotism which, concentrating on some miserable patch of land, had quietly witnessed the ruin of empires, the perpetration of unspeakable cruelties, the massacre of the population of large towns, with no other consideration bestowed upon them than on natural events, itself the helpless prey of any aggressor who deigned to notice it at all. We must not forget that this undignified, stagnatory, and vegetative life, that this passive sort of existence evoked on the other part, in contradistinction, wild, aimless, unbounded forces of destruction and rendered murder itself a religious rite in Hindostan. We must not forget that these little communities were contaminated by distinctions of caste and by slavery, that they subjugated man to external circumstances instead of elevating man the sovereign of circumstances, that they transformed a self-developing social state into never changing natural destiny, and thus brought about a brutalizing worship of nature, exhibiting its degradation in the fact that man, the sovereign of nature, fell down on his knees in adoration of Kanuman, the monkey, and Sabbala, the cow.”

– Karl Marx, “The British Rule in India”

Karl Marx on Colonialism and the Beginnings of Modern Capitalism

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“The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalised the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief momenta of primitive accumulation. On their heels treads the commercial war of the European nations, with the globe for a theatre. It begins with the revolt of the Netherlands from Spain, assumes giant dimensions in England’s Anti-Jacobin War, and is still going on in the opium wars against China, &c.

The different momenta of primitive accumulation distribute themselves now, more or less in chronological order, particularly over Spain, Portugal, Holland, France, and England. In England at the end of the 17th century, they arrive at a systematical combination, embracing the colonies, the national debt, the modern mode of taxation, and the protectionist system. These methods depend in part on brute force, e.g., the colonial system. But, they all employ the power of the State, the concentrated and organised force of society, to hasten, hot-house fashion, the process of transformation of the feudal mode of production into the capitalist mode, and to shorten the transition. Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one. It is itself an economic power.”

Karl Marx, “Capital, Vol. 1”

The Role of the CIA: Behind the Dalai Lama’s Holy Cloak

2305B_DALAI_narrowweb__300x357,0Michael Backman
Global Research
March 23, 2008

Global Research Editor’s note

This incisive article by Michael Backman outlines the relationship of the Dalai Lama and his organization to US intelligence.

The Dalai Lama has been on the CIA payroll since the late 1950s. He is an instrument of US intelligence.

An understanding of this longstanding relationship to the CIA is essential, particuarly in the light of recent events. In all likelihood US intelligence was behind the protest movement, organized to occur a few months prior to the Beijing Olympic games.

M. C. 23 March 2008

THE Dalai Lama show is set to roll into Australia again next month and again Australian politicians are getting themselves in a twist as to whether they should meet him.

Rarely do journalists challenge the Dalai Lama.

Partly it is because he is so charming and engaging. Most published accounts of him breeze on as airily as the subject, for whom a good giggle and a quaint parable are substitutes for hard answers. But this is the man who advocates greater autonomy for millions of people who are currently Chinese citizens, presumably with him as head of their government. So, why not hold him accountable as a political figure?

No mere spiritual leader, he was the head of Tibet’s government when he went into exile in 1959. It was a state apparatus run by aristocratic, nepotistic monks that collected taxes, jailed and tortured dissenters and engaged in all the usual political intrigues. (The Dalai Lama’s own father was almost certainly murdered in 1946, the consequence of a coup plot.)

The government set up in exile in India and, at least until the 1970s, received $US1.7 million a year from the CIA.

The money was to pay for guerilla operations against the Chinese, notwithstanding the Dalai Lama’s public stance in support of non-violence, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

The Dalai Lama himself was on the CIA’s payroll from the late 1950s until 1974, reportedly receiving $US15,000 a month ($US180,000 a year).

The funds were paid to him personally, but he used all or most of them for Tibetan government-in-exile activities, principally to fund offices in New York and Geneva, and to lobby internationally.

Details of the government-in-exile’s funding today are far from clear. Structurally, it comprises seven departments and several other special offices. There have also been charitable trusts, a publishing company, hotels in India and Nepal, and a handicrafts distribution company in the US and in Australia, all grouped under the government-in-exile’s Department of Finance.

The government was involved in running 24 businesses in all, but decided in 2003 that it would withdraw from these because such commercial involvement was not appropriate.

Several years ago, I asked the Dalai Lama’s Department of Finance for details of its budget. In response, it claimed then to have annual revenue of about $US22 million, which it spent on various health, education, religious and cultural programs.

The biggest item was for politically related expenditure, at $US7 million. The next biggest was administration, which ran to $US4.5 million. Almost $US2 million was allocated to running the government-in-exile’s overseas offices.

For all that the government-in-exile claims to do, these sums seemed remarkably low.

It is not clear how donations enter its budgeting. These are likely to run to many millions annually, but the Dalai Lama’s Department of Finance provided no explicit acknowledgment of them or of their sources.

Certainly, there are plenty of rumours among expatriate Tibetans of endemic corruption and misuse of monies collected in the name of the Dalai Lama.

Many donations are channelled through the New York-based Tibet Fund, set up in 1981 by Tibetan refugees and US citizens. It has grown into a multimillion-dollar organisation that disburses $US3 million each year to its various programs.

Part of its funding comes from the US State Department’s Bureau for Refugee Programs.

Like many Asian politicians, the Dalai Lama has been remarkably nepotistic, appointing members of his family to many positions of prominence. In recent years, three of the six members of the Kashag, or cabinet, the highest executive branch of the Tibetan government-in-exile, have been close relatives of the Dalai Lama.

An older brother served as chairman of the Kashag and as the minister of security. He also headed the CIA-backed Tibetan contra movement in the 1960s.

A sister-in-law served as head of the government-in-exile’s planning council and its Department of Health.

A younger sister served as health and education minister and her husband served as head of the government-in-exile’s Department of Information and International Relations.

Their daughter was made a member of the Tibetan parliament in exile. A younger brother has served as a senior member of the private office of the Dalai Lama and his wife has served as education minister.

The second wife of a brother-in-law serves as the representative of the Tibetan government-in-exile for northern Europe and head of international relations for the government-in-exile. All these positions give the Dalai Lama’s family access to millions of dollars collected on behalf of the government-in-exile.

The Dalai Lama might now be well-known but few really know much about him. For example, contrary to widespread belief, he is not a vegetarian. He eats meat. He has done so (he claims) on a doctor’s advice following liver complications from hepatitis. I have checked with several doctors but none agrees that meat consumption is necessary or even desirable for a damaged liver.

What has the Dalai Lama actually achieved for Tibetans inside Tibet?

If his goal has been independence for Tibet or, more recently, greater autonomy, then he has been a miserable failure.

He has kept Tibet on the front pages around the world, but to what end? The main achievement seems to have been to become a celebrity. Possibly, had he stayed quiet, fewer Tibetans might have been tortured, killed and generally suppressed by China.

In any event, the current Dalai Lama is 72 years old. His successor — a reincarnation — will be appointed as a child and it will be many years before he plays a meaningful role. As far as China is concerned, that is one problem that will take care of itself, irrespective of whether or not John Howard or Kevin Rudd meet the current Dalai Lama.

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How the CIA helped Dalai Lama to end up in exile

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It is widely believed that the Dalai Lama fled Tibet once Chinese troops gained control over the region. Actually, these two events have nine years between them.

Tibet’s self-proclaimed independence in 1913, after the fall of Qing Empire of China, was never recognised legally by any country. So, once China sorted out the Civil War, it saw it only as natural to claim the territories succeeded from the state of Qing.

Once the Chinese People’s Liberation Army forces defeated Tibet’s army on October 7, 1950, Beijing started a campaign of re-integrating Tibet into the People’s Republic of China.

The US became interested in the region as a new ground to counter Communist China. It promised to encourage and support Tibetan resistance to Communist control and provide financial help to Tibetan insurgents, says Peter Harclerode in his book, “Fighting Dirty: The Inside Story of Covert Operations From Ho Chi Minh to Osama Bin Laden”.

For the US State department, the Dalai Lama was of more use in active opposition to Beijing. That is why the CIA actively encouraged the Tibetan leader to go into exile to any nearby state, such as India, Ceylon or Thailand, to become the symbol of Tibet resistance to Communist China.

In 1951 the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, preferred to stay in Lhasa and formally accepted “The 17 Point Plan” peace treaty uniting Tibet and the People’s Republic of China.

Three years later the Dalai Lama was elected vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s National Assembly, thus entering China’s ruling elite.

In 1956 Tibetan tribal alliance “National Army of the defenders of the Faith” tried to urge locals to fight Chinese and asked Dalai Lama to give a “spiritual support and leadership” for the resistance, which he refused.

The alliance nevertheless obtained aid from the CIA without the Dalai Lama’s knowledge. Six Tibetans were handpicked to be trained in using small weapons, demolition, mine-laying and sabotage at the American military base on Saipan Island so they could participate in a secret CIA operation codenamed “Saint Circus”.

In autumn 1957, two of these freshly-trained Tibetans were parachuted in to Tibet to deliver a secret message from the US government to the Dalai-Lama, offering assistance if His Holiness requested any. Again, the Dalai Lama turned it down.

Then, in early 1958, CIA agents in Lhasa delivered a new secret message from the US urging the Dalai Lama to make a formal request for American assistance, which he declined despite the fact it would have been backed by the newly-formed Chushi Gangdrug (Four Rivers, Six Mountains) tribal alliance. The Dalai Lama was consistent in avoiding foreign help to spare his compatriots from a possible war with China – but he did not succeed.

On June 16, 1958, Chushi Gangdrug’s military wing formed a National Volunteer Defence Army which began a full-scale insurgent warfare a whole year before the famous Tibetan uprising started (on March 10, 1959).

Also in 1958, the CIA began a new training programme for future Tibetan guerrillas. Codenamed “The Colorado program” it lasted for seven years at Camp Hale in Colorado and neighboring the Butts Field Air Force Base. No fewer than 200 Tibetans were trained during these years.

At the same time, the CIA made sure the Tibetans were armed by dropping weapons and equipment for their guerrillas.

In total, from July 1959 till May 1960, about 362 tonnes of weapons, ammunition and equipment – as well as 85 trained guerrilla warfare specialists – were dropped into Tibet,

The US State Department closed down the Tibet project fifteen years later when, in 1974, it officially ceased to aid the Tibetan government in exile.

Following the 1959 uprising, the Dalai Lama fled to India where he stays in exile to this day.

Source

Left Anticommunism: the Unkindest Cut

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BY MICHAEL PARENTI

Despite a lifetime of “shaming” the system, NOAM CHOMSKY, America’s foremost “engagé” intellectual, remains an unrepentant left anticommunist.

In the United States, for over a hundred years, the ruling interests tirelessly propagated anticommunism among the populace, until it became more like a religious orthodoxy than a political analysis. During the Cold War, the anticommunist ideological framework could transform any data about existing communist societies into hostile evidence. If the Soviets refused to negotiate a point, they were intransigent and belligerent; if they appeared willing to make concessions, this was but a skillful ploy to put us off our guard. By opposing arms limitations, they would have demonstrated their aggressive intent; but when in fact they supported most armament treaties, it was because they were mendacious and manipulative. If the churches in the USSR were empty, this demonstrated that religion was suppressed; but if the churches were full, this meant the people were rejecting the regime’s atheistic ideology. If the workers went on strike (as happened on infrequent occasions), this was evidence of their alienation from the collectivist system; if they didn’t go on strike, this was because they were intimidated and lacked freedom. A scarcity of consumer goods demonstrated the failure of the economic system; an improvement in consumer supplies meant only that the leaders were attempting to placate a restive population and so maintain a firmer hold over them. If communists in the United States played an important role struggling for the rights of workers, the poor, African-Americans, women, and others, this was only their guileful way of gathering support among disfranchised groups and gaining power for themselves. How one gained power by fighting for the rights of powerless groups was never explained. What we are dealing with is a nonfalsifiable orthodoxy, so assiduously marketed by the ruling interests that it affected people across the entire political spectrum.

Genuflection to Orthodoxy

Many on the U.S. Left have exhibited a Soviet bashing and Red baiting that matches anything on the Right in its enmity and crudity. Listen to Noam Chomsky holding forth about “left intellectuals” who try to “rise to power on the backs of mass popular movements” and “then beat the people into submission. . . . You start off as basically a Leninist who is going to be part of the Red bureaucracy. You see later that power doesn’t lie that way, and you very quickly become an ideologist of the right. . . . We’re seeing it right now in the [former] Soviet Union. The same guys who were communist thugs two years back, are now running banks and [are] enthusiastic free marketeers and praising Americans” (Z Magazine, 10/95).

Chomsky’s imagery is heavily indebted to the same U.S. corporate political culture he so frequently criticizes on other issues. In his mind, the revolution was betrayed by a coterie of “communist thugs” who merely hunger for power rather than wanting the power to end hunger. In fact, the communists did not “very quickly” switch to the Right but struggled in the face of a momentous onslaught to keep Soviet socialism alive for more than seventy years. To be sure, in the Soviet Union’s waning days some, like Boris Yeltsin, crossed over to capitalist ranks, but others continued to resist free-market incursions at great cost to themselves, many meeting their deaths during Yeltsin’s violent repression of the Russian parliament in 1993.

Some leftists and others fall back on the old stereotype of power-hungry Reds who pursue power for power’s sake without regard for actual social goals. If true, one wonders why, in country after country, these Reds side with the poor and powerless often at great risk and sacrifice to themselves, rather than reaping the rewards that come with serving the well-placed.

For decades, many left-leaning writers and speakers in the United States have felt obliged to establish their credibility by indulging in anticommunist and anti-Soviet genuflection, seemingly unable to give a talk or write an article or book review on whatever political subject without injecting some anti-Red sideswipe. The intent was, and still is, to distance themselves from the Marxist-Leninist Left.

Adam Hochschild: Keeping his distance from the “Stalinist Left” and recommending same posture to fellow progressives.

Adam Hochschild, a liberal writer and publisher, warned those on the Left who might be lackadaisical about condemning existing communist societies that they “weaken their credibility” (Guardian, 5/23/84). In other words, to be credible opponents of the cold war, we first had to join in the Cold-War condemnations of communist societies. Ronald Radosh urged that the peace movement purge itself of communists so that it not be accused of being communist (Guardian, 3/16/83). If I understand Radosh: To save ourselves from anticommunist witchhunts, we should ourselves become witchhunters. Purging the Left of communists became a longstanding practice, having injurious effects on various progressive causes. For instance, in 1949 some twelve unions were ousted from the CIO because they had Reds in their leadership. The purge reduced CIO membership by some 1.7 million and seriously weakened its recruitment drives and political clout. In the late 1940s, to avoid being “smeared” as Reds, Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), a supposedly progressive group, became one of the most vocally anticommunist organizations.

The strategy did not work. ADA and others on the Left were still attacked for being communist or soft on communism by those on the Right. Then and now, many on the Left have failed to realize that those who fight for social change on behalf of the less privileged elements of society will be Red-baited by conservative elites whether they are communists or not. For ruling interests, it makes little difference whether their wealth and power is challenged by “communist subversives” or “loyal American liberals.” All are lumped together as more or less equally abhorrent.

Even when attacking the Right, the left critics cannot pass up an opportunity to flash their anticommunist credentials. So Mark Green writes in a criticism of President Ronald Reagan that “when presented with a situation that challenges his conservative catechism, like an unyielding Marxist-Leninist, [Reagan] will change not his mind but the facts.” While professing a dedication to fighting dogmatism “both of the Right and Left,” individuals who perform such de rigueur genuflections reinforce the anticommunist dogma. Red-baiting leftists contributed their share to the climate of hostility that has given U.S. leaders such a free hand in waging hot and cold wars against communist countries and which even today makes a progressive or even liberal agenda difficult to promote.

A prototypic Red-basher who pretended to be on the Left was George Orwell. In the middle of World War II, as the Soviet Union was fighting for its life against the Nazi invaders at Stalingrad, Orwell announced that a “willingness to criticize Russia and Stalin is the test of intellectual honesty. It is the only thing that from a literary intellectual’s point of view is really dangerous” (Monthly Review, 5/83). Safely ensconced within a virulently anticommunist society, Orwell (with Orwellian doublethink) characterized the condemnation of communism as a lonely courageous act of defiance. Today, his ideological progeny are still at it, offering themselves as intrepid left critics of the Left, waging a valiant struggle against imaginary Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist hordes.
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Sorely lacking within the U.S. Left is any rational evaluation of the Soviet Union, a nation that endured a protracted civil war and a multinational foreign invasion in the very first years of its existence, and that two decades later threw back and destroyed the Nazi beast at enormous cost to itself. In the three decades after the Bolshevik revolution, the Soviets made industrial advances equal to what capitalism took a century to accomplish–while feeding and schooling their children rather than working them fourteen hours a day as capitalist industrialists did and still do in many parts of the world. And the Soviet Union, along with Bulgaria, the German Democratic Republic, and Cuba provided vital assistance to national liberation movements in countries around the world, including Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress in South Africa.

Left anticommunists remained studiously unimpressed by the dramatic gains won by masses of previously impoverished people under communism. Some were even scornful of such accomplishments. I recall how in Burlington Vermont, in 1971, the noted anticommunist anarchist, Murray Bookchin, derisively referred to my concern for “the poor little children who got fed under communism” (his words).

Slinging Labels

Those of us who refused to join in the Soviet bashing were branded by left anticommunists as “Soviet apologists” and “Stalinists,” even if we disliked Stalin and his autocratic system of rule and believed there were things seriously wrong with existing Soviet society. Our real sin was that unlike many on the Left we refused to uncritically swallow U.S. media propaganda about communist societies. Instead, we maintained that, aside from the well-publicized deficiencies and injustices, there were positive features about existing communist systems that were worth preserving, that improved the lives of hundreds of millions of people in meaningful and humanizing ways. This claim had a decidedly unsettling effect on left anticommunists who themselves could not utter a positive word about any communist society (except possibly Cuba) and could not lend a tolerant or even courteous ear to anyone who did.

Saturated by anticommunist orthodoxy, most U.S. leftists have practiced a left McCarthyism against people who did have something positive to say about existing communism, excluding them from participation in conferences, advisory boards, political endorsements, and left publications. Like conservatives, left anticommunists tolerated nothing less than a blanket condemnation of the Soviet Union as a Stalinist monstrosity and a Leninist moral aberration.

That many U.S. leftists have scant familiarity with Lenin’s writings and political work does not prevent them from slinging the “Leninist” label. Noam Chomsky, who is an inexhaustible fount of anticommunist caricatures, offers this comment about Leninism: “Western and also Third World intellectuals were attracted to the Bolshevik counterrevolution [sic] because Leninism is, after all, a doctrine that says that the radical intelligentsia have a right to take state power and to run their countries by force, and that is an idea which is rather appealing to intellectuals.” Here Chomsky fashions an image of power-hungry intellectuals to go along with his cartoon image of power-hungry Leninists, villains seeking not the revolutionary means to fight injustice but power for power’s sake. When it comes to Red-bashing, some of the best and brightest on the Left sound not much better than the worst on the Right.

At the time of the 1996 terror bombing in Oklahoma City, I heard a radio commentator announce: “Lenin said that the purpose of terror is to terrorize.” U.S. media commentators have repeatedly quoted Lenin in that misleading manner. In fact, his statement was disapproving of terrorism. He polemicized against isolated terrorist acts which do nothing but create terror among the populace, invite repression, and isolate the revolutionary movement from the masses. Far from being the totalitarian, tight-circled conspirator, Lenin urged the building of broad coalitions and mass organizations, encompassing people who were at different levels of political development. He advocated whatever diverse means were needed to advance the class struggle, including participation in parliamentary elections and existing trade unions. To be sure, the working class, like any mass group, needed organization and leadership to wage a successful revolutionary struggle, which was the role of a vanguard party, but that did not mean the proletarian revolution could be fought and won by putschists or terrorists.

Lenin constantly dealt with the problem of avoiding the two extremes of liberal bourgeois opportunism and ultra-left adventurism. Yet he himself is repeatedly identified as an ultra-left putschist by mainstream journalists and some on the Left. Whether Lenin’s approach to revolution is desirable or even relevant today is a question that warrants critical examination. But a useful evaluation is not likely to come from people who misrepresent his theory and practice.

Left anticommunists find any association with communist organizations to be morally unacceptable because of the “crimes of communism.” Yet many of them are themselves associated with the Democratic Party in this country, either as voters or members, seemingly unconcerned about the morally unacceptable political crimes committed by leaders of that organization. Under one or another Democratic administration, 120,000 Japanese Americans were torn from their homes and livelihoods and thrown into detention camps; atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki with an enormous loss of innocent life; the FBI was given authority to infiltrate political groups; the Smith Act was used to imprison leaders of the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party and later on leaders of the Communist Party for their political beliefs; detention camps were established to round up political dissidents in the event of a “national emergency”; during the late 1940s and 1950s, eight thousand federal workers were purged from government because of their political associations and views, with thousands more in all walks of life witchhunted out of their careers; the Neutrality Act was used to impose an embargo on the Spanish Republic that worked in favor of Franco’s fascist legions; homicidal counterinsurgency programs were initiated in various Third World countries; and the Vietnam War was pursued and escalated. And for the better part of a century, the Congressional leadership of the Democratic Party protected racial segregation and stymied all anti-lynching and fair employment bills. Yet all these crimes, bringing ruination and death to many, have not moved the liberals, the social democrats, and the “democratic socialist” anticommunists to insist repeatedly that we issue blanket condemnations of either the Democratic Party or the political system that produced it, certainly not with the intolerant fervor that has been directed against existing communism.

Pure Socialism vs. Siege Socialism

The upheavals in Eastern Europe did not constitute a defeat for socialism because socialism never existed in those countries, according to some U.S. leftists. They say that the communist states offered nothing more than bureaucratic, one-party “state capitalism” or some such thing. Whether we call the former communist countries “socialist” is a matter of definition. Suffice it to say, they constituted something different from what existed in the profit-driven capitalist world–as the capitalists themselves were not slow to recognize.

First, in communist countries there was less economic inequality than under capitalism. The perks enjoyed by party and government elites were modest by corporate CEO standards in the West [even more so when compared with today’s grotesque compensation packages to the executive and financial elites.—Eds], as were their personal incomes and life styles. Soviet leaders like Yuri Andropov and Leonid Brezhnev lived not in lavishly appointed mansions like the White House, but in relatively large apartments in a housing project near the Kremlin set aside for government leaders. They had limousines at their disposal (like most other heads of state) and access to large dachas where they entertained visiting dignitaries. But they had none of the immense personal wealth that most U.S. leaders possess.

The “lavish life” enjoyed by East Germany’s party leaders, as widely publicized in the U.S. press, included a $725 yearly allowance in hard currency, and housing in an exclusive settlement on the outskirts of Berlin that sported a sauna, an indoor pool, and a fitness center shared by all the residents. They also could shop in stores that carried Western goods such as bananas, jeans, and Japanese electronics. The U.S. press never pointed out that ordinary East Germans had access to public pools and gyms and could buy jeans and electronics (though usually not of the imported variety). Nor was the “lavish” consumption enjoyed by East German leaders contrasted to the truly opulent life style enjoyed by the Western plutocracy.

Second, in communist countries, productive forces were not organized for capital gain and private enrichment; public ownership of the means of production supplanted private ownership. Individuals could not hire other people and accumulate great personal wealth from their labor. Again, compared to Western standards, differences in earnings and savings among the populace were generally modest. The income spread between highest and lowest earners in the Soviet Union was about five to one. In the United States, the spread in yearly income between the top multibillionaires and the working poor is more like 10,000 to 1.

Third, priority was placed on human services. Though life under communism left a lot to be desired and the services themselves were rarely the best, communist countries did guarantee their citizens some minimal standard of economic survival and security, including guaranteed education, employment, housing, and medical assistance.

Fourth, communist countries did not pursue the capital penetration of other countries. Lacking a profit motive as their motor force and therefore having no need to constantly find new investment opportunities, they did not expropriate the lands, labor, markets, and natural resources of weaker nations, that is, they did not practice economic imperialism. The Soviet Union conducted trade and aid relations on terms that generally were favorable to the Eastern European nations and Mongolia, Cuba, and India.

All of the above were organizing principles for every communist system to one degree or another. None of the above apply to free market countries like Honduras, Guatemala, Thailand, South Korea, Chile, Indonesia, Zaire, Germany, or the United States.

But a real socialism, it is argued, would be controlled by the workers themselves through direct participation instead of being run by Leninists, Stalinists, Castroites, or other ill-willed, power-hungry, bureaucratic, cabals of evil men who betray revolutions. Unfortunately, this “pure socialism” view is ahistorical and nonfalsifiable; it cannot be tested against the actualities of history. It compares an ideal against an imperfect reality, and the reality comes off a poor second. It imagines what socialism would be like in a world far better than this one, where no strong state structure or security force is required, where none of the value produced by workers needs to be expropriated to rebuild society and defend it from invasion and internal sabotage.

The pure socialists’ ideological anticipations remain untainted by existing practice. They do not explain how the manifold functions of a revolutionary society would be organized, how external attack and internal sabotage would be thwarted, how bureaucracy would be avoided, scarce resources allocated, policy differences settled, priorities set, and production and distribution conducted. Instead, they offer vague statements about how the workers themselves will directly own and control the means of production and will arrive at their own solutions through creative struggle. No surprise then that the pure socialists support every revolution except the ones that succeed.

The pure socialists had a vision of a new society that would create and be created by new people, a society so transformed in its fundamentals as to leave little room for wrongful acts, corruption, and criminal abuses of state power. There would be no bureaucracy or self-interested coteries, no ruthless conflicts or hurtful decisions. When the reality proves different and more difficult, some on the Left proceed to condemn the real thing and announce that they “feel betrayed” by this or that revolution.

The pure socialists see socialism as an ideal that was tarnished by communist venality, duplicity, and power cravings. The pure socialists oppose the Soviet model but offer little evidence to demonstrate that other paths could have been taken, that other models of socialism–not created from one’s imagination but developed through actual historical experience–could have taken hold and worked better. Was an open, pluralistic, democratic socialism actually possible at this historic juncture? The historical evidence would suggest it was not. As the political philosopher Carl Shames argued:

How do [the left critics] know that the fundamental problem was the “nature” of the ruling [revolutionary] parties rather than, say, the global concentration of capital that is destroying all independent economies and putting an end to national sovereignty everywhere? And to the extent that it was, where did this “nature” come from? Was this “nature” disembodied, disconnected from the fabric of the society itself, from the social relations impacting on it? . . . Thousands of examples could be found in which the centralization of power was a necessary choice in securing and protecting socialist relations. In my observation [of existing communist societies], the positive of “socialism” and the negative of “bureaucracy, authoritarianism and tyranny” interpenetrated in virtually every sphere of life. (Carl Shames, correspondence to me, 1/15/92.)

The pure socialists regularly blame the Left itself for every defeat it suffers. Their second-guessing is endless. So we hear that revolutionary struggles fail because their leaders wait too long or act too soon, are too timid or too impulsive, too stubborn or too easily swayed. We hear that revolutionary leaders are compromising or adventuristic, bureaucratic or opportunistic, rigidly organized or insufficiently organized, undemocratic or failing to provide strong leadership. But always the leaders fail because they do not put their trust in the “direct actions” of the workers, who apparently would withstand and overcome every adversity if only given the kind of leadership available from the left critic’s own groupuscule. Unfortunately, the critics seem unable to apply their own leadership genius to producing a successful revolutionary movement in their own country.

Tony Febbo questioned this blame-the-leadership syndrome of the pure socialists:

It occurs to me that when people as smart, different, dedicated and heroic as Lenin, Mao, Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, Ho Chi Minh and Robert Mugabe–and the millions of heroic people who followed and fought with them–all end up more or less in the same place, then something bigger is at work than who made what decision at what meeting. Or even what size houses they went home to after the meeting. . . .

These leaders weren’t in a vacuum. They were in a whirlwind. And the suction, the force, the power that was twirling them around has spun and left this globe mangled for more than 900 years. And to blame this or that theory or this or that leader is a simple-minded substitute for the kind of analysis that Marxists [should make]. (Guardian, 11/13/91)

To be sure, the pure socialists are not entirely without specific agendas for building the revolution. After the Sandinistas overthrew the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua, an ultra-left group in that country called for direct worker ownership of the factories. The armed workers would take control of production without benefit of managers, state planners, bureaucrats, or a formal military. While undeniably appealing, this worker syndicalism denies the necessities of state power. Under such an arrangement, the Nicaraguan revolution would not have lasted two months against the U.S.-sponsored counterrevolution that savaged the country. It would have been unable to mobilize enough resources to field an army, take security measures, or build and coordinate economic programs and human services on a national scale.

Decentralization vs. Survival

For a people’s revolution to survive, it must seize state power and use it to (a) break the stranglehold exercised by the owning class over the society’s institutions and resources, and (b) withstand the reactionary counterattack that is sure to come. The internal and external dangers a revolution faces necessitate a centralized state power that is not particularly to anyone’s liking, not in Soviet Russia in 1917, nor in Sandinista Nicaragua in 1980.

Engels offers an apposite account of an uprising in Spain in 1872-73 in which anarchists seized power in municipalities across the country. At first, the situation looked promising. The king had abdicated and the bourgeois government could muster but a few thousand ill-trained troops. Yet this ragtag force prevailed because it faced a thoroughly parochialized rebellion. “Each town proclaimed itself as a sovereign canton and set up a revolutionary committee (junta),” Engels writes. “[E]ach town acted on its own, declaring that the important thing was not cooperation with other towns but separation from them, thus precluding any possibility of a combined attack [against bourgeois forces].” It was “the fragmentation and isolation of the revolutionary forces which enabled the government troops to smash one revolt after the other.”

Decentralized parochial autonomy is the graveyard of insurgency–which may be one reason why there has never been a successful anarcho-syndicalist revolution. Ideally, it would be a fine thing to have only local, self-directed, worker participation, with minimal bureaucracy, police, and military. This probably would be the development of socialism, were socialism ever allowed to develop unhindered by counterrevolutionary subversion and attack. One might recall how, in 1918-20, fourteen capitalist nations, including the United States, invaded Soviet Russia in a bloody but unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the revolutionary Bolshevik government. The years of foreign invasion and civil war did much to intensify the Bolsheviks’ siege psychology with its commitment to lockstep party unity and a repressive security apparatus. Thus, in May 1921, the same Lenin who had encouraged the practice of internal party democracy and struggled against Trotsky in order to give the trade unions a greater measure of autonomy, now called for an end to the Workers’ Opposition and other factional groups within the party. “The time has come,” he told an enthusiastically concurring Tenth Party Congress, “to put an end to opposition, to put a lid on it: we have had enough opposition.” Open disputes and conflicting tendencies within and without the party, the communists concluded, created an appearance of division and weakness that invited attack by formidable foes.

Only a month earlier, in April 1921, Lenin had called for more worker representation on the party’s Central Committee. In short, he had become not anti-worker but anti-opposition. Here was a social revolution–like every other–that was not allowed to develop its political and material life in an unhindered way.

By the late 1920s, the Soviets faced the choice of (a) moving in a still more centralized direction with a command economy and forced agrarian collectivization and full-speed industrialization under a commandist, autocratic party leadership, the road taken by Stalin, or (b) moving in a liberalized direction, allowing more political diversity, more autonomy for labor unions and other organizations, more open debate and criticism, greater autonomy among the various Soviet republics, a sector of privately owned small businesses, independent agricultural development by the peasantry, greater emphasis on consumer goods, and less effort given to the kind of capital accumulation needed to build a strong military-industrial base.

The latter course, I believe, would have produced a more comfortable, more humane and serviceable society. Siege socialism would have given way to worker-consumer socialism. The only problem is that the country would have risked being incapable of withstanding the Nazi onslaught. Instead, the Soviet Union embarked upon a rigorous, forced industrialization. This policy has often been mentioned as one of the wrongs perpetrated by Stalin upon his people. It consisted mostly of building, within a decade, an entirely new, huge industrial base east of the Urals in the middle of the barren steppes, the biggest steel complex in Europe, in anticipation of an invasion from the West. “Money was spent like water, men froze, hungered and suffered but the construction went on with a disregard for individuals and a mass heroism seldom paralleled in history.”

Stalin’s prophecy that the Soviet Union had only ten years to do what the British had done in a century proved correct. When the Nazis invaded in 1941, that same industrial base, safely ensconced thousands of miles from the front, produced the weapons of war that eventually turned the tide. The cost of this survival included 22 million Soviets who perished in the war and immeasurable devastation and suffering, the effects of which would distort Soviet society for decades afterward.

All this is not to say that everything Stalin did was of historical necessity. The exigencies of revolutionary survival did not “make inevitable” the heartless execution of hundreds of Old Bolshevik leaders, the personality cult of a supreme leader who claimed every revolutionary gain as his own achievement, the suppression of party political life through terror, the eventual silencing of debate regarding the pace of industrialization and collectivization, the ideological regulation of all intellectual and cultural life, and the mass deportations of “suspect” nationalities.

The transforming effects of counterrevolutionary attack have been felt in other countries. A Sandinista military officer I met in Vienna in 1986 noted that Nicaraguans were “not a warrior people” but they had to learn to fight because they faced a destructive, U.S.-sponsored mercenary war. She bemoaned the fact that war and embargo forced her country to postpone much of its socio-economic agenda. As with Nicaragua, so with Mozambique, Angola and numerous other countries in which U.S.-financed mercenary forces destroyed farmlands, villages, health centers, and power stations, while killing or starving hundreds of thousands–the revolutionary baby was strangled in its crib or mercilessly bled beyond recognition. This reality ought to earn at least as much recognition as the suppression of dissidents in this or that revolutionary society.

The overthrow of Eastern European and Soviet communist governments was cheered by many left intellectuals. Now democracy would have its day. The people would be free from the yoke of communism and the U.S. Left would be free from the albatross of existing communism, or as left theorist Richard Lichtman put it, “liberated from the incubus of the Soviet Union and the succubus of Communist China.”

In fact, the capitalist restoration in Eastern Europe seriously weakened the numerous Third World liberation struggles that had received aid from the Soviet Union and brought a whole new crop of right-wing governments into existence, ones that now worked hand-in-glove with U.S. global counterrevolutionaries around the globe.

In addition, the overthrow of communism gave the green light to the unbridled exploitative impulses of Western corporate interests. No longer needing to convince workers that they live better than their counterparts in Russia, no longer restrained by a competing system, the corporate class is rolling back the many gains that working people have won over the years. Now that the free market, in its meanest form, is emerging triumphant in the East, so will it prevail in the West. “Capitalism with a human face” is being replaced by “capitalism in your face.” As Richard Levins put it, “So in the new exuberant aggressiveness of world capitalism we see what communists and their allies had held at bay” (Monthly Review, 9/96).

Having never understood the role that existing communist powers played in tempering the worst impulses of Western capitalism, and having perceived communism as nothing but an unmitigated evil, the left anticommunists did not anticipate the losses that were to come. Some of them still don’t get it.

International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO): On the International Situation

The most significant development in the world capitalist economy, since the last meeting of our Conference is undoubtedly the intensification of the symptoms that prove the trend toward a new recession in all fields, after a certain rise in the second quarter of 2009, followed by a period of stagnation. Despite the trend towards a rise in the second quarter, world industrial production shrank 6.6% in 2009 and rose 10% in 2010. The industrial production of June 2010 exceeded its previous level before the crisis of 2008. But starting from the first quarter of 2011, the growth lost momentum and fell to 0.4% in the last quarter of that year. In 2011, world industrial production declined by half (5.4%) compared to the previous year. In the first quarter of 2012, after a weak rise, the growth declined. The growth was 1.8% in the first quarter, 0% in the second and 4% in the last quarter of 20l2. All the data show that, despite fluctuations, a decline persists that began in the first quarter of 2011, which led to zero level in the middle of this year [2012] and is heading for a new period of decline.

Industrial production in the European Union, which is a larger economic power than the U.S.; in Japan, which is third largest world economic power; in India, one of the largest economies in Asia, have had consecutive declines in the third quarter of 2011 and in the first two quarters of 2012 compared to the same period last year. Industrial production in Brazil, the largest economy in Latin America, has also entered into decline in the last two quarters. North African countries like Tunisia and Egypt, and other countries such as Argentina, Colombia and Peru, are in similar situations.

The rate of growth of industrial production in China, in the first and second quarters of 2012, was 11.6% and 9.5%, while it was 14.4% in 2010 and 13.8% in 2011. The downward trend continued in July, 9.2% and in August, 8.9%. China, which grew by 12.9% and 12.3% in the crisis years (2008 and 2009), was, along with India, one of the factors that prevented a further sharpening of the crisis and that allowed the world economy to enter into a new period of growth. The situation in that country has changed considerably. Now it is a country that is accumulating stockpiles in the steel industry, which is facing a slowdown in the construction sector, which has important holes in the financial sector. Those countries that saw lower growth rates despite the stimulus measures to revive the domestic market, are now unable to play the same role as before. The industrial production of Mexico and the Confederation of Independent States (CIS), including Russia, continues to grow. However, while the industrial production in the major countries and the volume of international trade are falling, for these countries also, a decrease is expected.

Unlike simple commodity production, a more rapid growth in the production of the means of production, compared to consumer goods, is a condition for expanded reproduction. But with the capitalist mode of production producing for an unknown market, with the sole purpose of obtaining profits, a consistent development of the two sectors is impossible and this is one of the factors that makes crises inevitable. In the last three years, as well as before, these two sectors have not developed consistently. In the first sector, demand has fallen, the volume of growth has fallen, stockpiles are accumulating and capacity utilization has fallen. In 2010 and 2011 the steel industry, an important component of the production of means of production, grew faster than the consumer goods sector. According to data from the World Steel Union, the growth rate in production was 15% in 2010 compared to the previous year, but in 2011 the figure fell to 6.2%. In January raw steel production saw a sharp drop to 8%, and it has stayed at 0.8% in the period from January to May of 2012. In August of 2012 raw steel production fell 1% in relation to 2011. In the same period, raw steel production rose 3.3% in Japan (a significant increase if one takes into account the major fall due to the tsunami) and 2.6% in India. It has fallen by 1.7% in China, 3.8% in the U.S., 4.4% in the EU, 7.1% in Germany, 15.5% in Italy and 3.8% in the Confederation of Independent States (CIS). The iron stockpiles in Chinese ports reached 98.15 million tons (an increase of 2.9%) belonging to the steel complexes. And stockpiles of Chinese coal are at their highest level in the last three years.

In manufacturing, a very important element of the production of the means of production, production and demand have declined in many countries. This decline has been one of the reasons for the cooling of industrial production in Germany, for example. In the capitalist mode of production, the agricultural sector, by its level of development and its technical basis, is always behind industry. Agricultural production is largely affected by the natural conditions, climate changes, droughts, storms and other natural catastrophes. Agricultural production is increasingly under the control of the monopolies and the speculative maneuvers of finance capital. In 2010 world agricultural production, including the production of cereals, has shrunk due to various factors such as bad weather or the expansion of plots reserved for bio-fuel production. On the other hand, in 2011, agricultural production has progressed thanks to better weather conditions, and also to increased demand and higher prices due to speculation. For example, wheat production increased by about 6%.

In 2009 the volume of world trade has declined 12.7%. According to data from the World Trade Organization (WTO), that volume registered a growth of 13.8% in 2010, and only 5% in 2011 (according to figures from the CPL, the growth was 15.2% in 2010, and 5.8% in 2011). The volume of world trade has grown by 0.5% in the final quarter of last year, and by 0.9% and 0.5% in the first and second quarter of 2012 respectively. During the first two months of the third quarter (June and July), the volume of world trade recorded a negative growth of -1.5% and -0.2% compared to the previous months.

World industrial production reached and surpassed the pre-crisis level of 2008, in June 2010, while the volume of international trade did not surpass this until November 2011. If we compare the data of July 2012 with the level reached before the crisis of 2008 (that is, April 2008), we see an increase of 9.5% in world industrial production and an increase of 5% in the total volume of growth in world trade.

The data on the increase of the volume of world trade is one of the most important that shows an evolutionary trend, although it does not exactly reflect the volume of growth of world trade. These data show that for the last three years, the world capitalist production has increased rapidly and that the capitalist world is once again facing the problem of overproduction, which is the source of all its crises. Decreased production, closing or reduction in work capacity of enterprises, rising unemployment and poverty; needs in abundance and the restriction of markets are the inevitable consequences of overproduction. The sharp slowdown in world industrial production has been shown above. The events in North Africa and the austerity measures taken in countries like Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, etc., are factors that are aggravating this process and its consequences.

Towards a New Financial Crisis

The crisis of 2008 broke out as a financial crisis, at the same time as the crisis deepened in other sectors, such as industry and trade, it developed with contacts in the finance sector with serious consequences for the following period. The most destructive consequences for the monopolies and the eventual collapse of the financial sector were avoided by transferring of billions of dollars into the coffers of the monopolies by the capitalist States. This rescue operation was only possible by accepting a debt to financial markets with very high interest rates, and the issuance of money into the markets. The end result is an extreme State debt, an increase in the debt and interest burden, a rise in the price of gold and the loss of value (devaluation) of almost all currencies.

Countries at different levels have entered a vicious circle that has elements of new currency and financial crises, in which they can finance their budget deficit, their debts and interests, having to borrow again. The capitalist world began a period of growth starting in the second quarter of 2009, with the weight inherited from the 2008 crisis. However, this period of growth has enabled recipient countries to breathe a little, turn the wheel that was on the verge of suffocating them. The growth of the world economy stopped and even lowered the price of gold for a moment. In some countries, such as China that had a significant growth rate, the ratio of the public debt to GDP decreased. But in other countries, such as Japan and the U.S., a substantial debt has continued, even during the period of growth of the capitalist world economy. The U.S. public debt represents the sum of $16 billion (the debt of Germany, which grew until the second half of this year, is 8 billion). Other capitalist countries are in a similar situation. The increasing debt is almost the condition of financial sustainability and economic growth. And this is the path that is leading directly to a new financial crisis that may profoundly affect all sectors of the economy.

The highly indebted countries have not been able to achieve a period of growth after the financial crisis and the fall in world industrial production that took place between the second quarter of 2008 and the second quarter of 2009; this period has led to a financial crisis that has affected the other sectors of the economy that has led them to bankruptcy. The first example of this process was in Greece, where the weakness was such that the industry, very weak, was largely liquidated when it joined the EU. After the 2008 crisis, in 2009, the economy of this country did not grow, and by the end of the year it was on the verge of bankruptcy. This country, followed by others such as Portugal, Spain, Hungary, etc., has not been able to get out of the crisis and stagnation. However, important differences should be noted in its debt in relation to the GDP.

Austerity measures never seen before, except in times of war or crisis as deep as 1929, have been imposed on the indebted countries. The result of these measures has been to impoverish the people, destroy the economy and reduce the internal market and foreign trade. These austerity plans have been applied (despite the opposition and struggle of the working class and peoples) under the control of the creditor imperialist powers, the international institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and European Union, and above all with the support of the collaborator monopoly bourgeoisie and its representatives, these enemies of the people. They have transferred billions of dollars to foreign banks, completely betraying the national interests. The national pride of the people, their right to sovereignty and independence have been trampled upon. A country like Britain that had a strong financial sector, but since mid-2011 has seen its industrial production and its economy reduced, has been forced to march along with the countries implementing austerity measures.

The significant decrease in the volume of growth of world industrial production, which began in the second quarter of 2011, is developing the elements of a new international financial crisis and is contributing to the degradation of the situation of the highly indebted countries. They failed to enter a period of growth parallel to the process of growth of the world capitalist economy following the crisis of 2008-2009. While the debate over the future of the Euro and the European Union is sharpening, the communiqués on the economic trends of the advanced capitalist countries and the indebted countries have sown confusion in the stock markets, barometers of the capitalist economy. Although world industrial and agricultural production and the volume of international -trade have exceeded the highest level before the crisis of 2008, the indices of the most influential stock markets remain below that level.

Although we are not yet experiencing the outbreak of a financial crisis of major proportions, everything makes it appear that the process is advancing towards such an eventuality. The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank (FED) has announced that it will not raise interest rates and that it will start a process of purchasing bonds for an amount of $2,000 billion dollars, at the rate of $40 billion per month. Japan has announced a similar measure and has begun a program of buying bonds to the tune of $695 billion.

Germany has had to relax its rigid policy towards the indebted countries and the European fund for the intervention in countries facing difficulties has increased. China, along with measures of revival that it has already applied, announced a new investment package to renovate its infrastructure. The price of gold is rising again. In 2008, the intense intervention of the capitalist States began after the outbreak of the crisis. Now, however, the capitalist States have gone into action before the shocks and bankruptcies at the same level as in 2008 start in the major capitalist countries and worldwide. However, these interventions, which can have some influence on the process of development, cannot change the orientation and the inevitable outcome.

The Sharpening of the Inter-Imperialist Contradictions and the Growing Danger of Conflicts

Uneven, unbalanced development is the absolute law of capitalist development. This process after the crisis of 2008 was not balanced, it deepened the antagonistic contradictions in the evolution and development of the relations between sectors, countries, regions, production and markets, etc. The industrial production of the advanced capitalist countries, including the U.S. and Japan, except Germany (ignoring the high level of 2008), did not reach the level of 2005. Germany, which has exceeded the pre-crisis level and has had a growth in industrial production of 11.5% in 2010 and 9% in 2011, has consolidated its position within the European Union and the Euro zone. Without separating itself from the bloc led by the United States, it has penetrated into new markets, new fields of investment, sources of raw materials, basing itself on its economic and financial strength, and above all, on its technical superiority in the industry of machine construction.

As in previous years, China, both because of its industrial production and its economy in general, was the country that had the most significant growth among major economies. It has modernized and increased the technical basis of its industry, and it continues to reduce the difference in its level of development with the other imperialist powers. Russia is going through a similar process. For the United States and its allies, these two countries, one considered as a vast market and production area with a trained and cheap work force, and the other a solid country, appear today as their main rivals to fight against.

The inevitable result of the change in the balance of power is the great demand for a piece of the pie by the emerging forces, using all means to get it and a new redivision of the world according the new balance of power. The recent development of the world economy is another factor that exacerbates the contradictions and the struggles among the major imperialist powers. Last year in the Middle East, in Africa and the whole world, the rivalry and struggle to expand their sphere of influence has accelerated. The production of weapons, the arms race is intensifying. China and Russia have renewed the technical basis of their arms industry. According to a report by the Congress of the United States, arms sales by these countries have tripled in 2011.

China, which increasingly needs more raw materials, energy and fields of investment for its growing economy, and Russia, which is slowly recovering, are intensifying their expansionist desires and their efforts to get their piece of the pie. Therefore, it is a top priority for the U.S. and its allies to prevent China, a young imperialist power in full development, and Russia, from achieving new markets in the field of energy and raw materials. When the Obama administration states that beginning next year the priority strategic objective for the United States will be Asia, and that the deployment of the U.S. military will be renewed according to the new situation, this is merely affirming that reality. The crisis of the archipelagos shows the level of tension between Japan and China; Japan has declared its intention to improve its military capability. The military maneuvers in the region have intensified.

The consequences of the change in the balance of power in the world have been clearly visible since last year. Russia and China were forced to accept Western imperialist intervention in Libya, even though that intervention was contrary to their interests. The intervention ended with the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime, the near collapse of the country, the destruction of its economy, the degradation of working and living conditions, the transfer of the country’s wealth into the hands of the Western imperialist States, etc. Russia and China lost a good part of their positions, including their oil agreements. After the fall of the Gaddafi regime, Mali has been dragged into war and divided. But the main objective is Syria. The attempts by the Western imperialist powers to topple the Syrian regime and put in a puppet government to fully control the country are intensifying. The United States and its allies have mobilized all their forces within Syria and outside of it in Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. They are stirring up the religious contradictions, they use and manipulate the popular discontent towards the regime and they try to prepare the ground for a military intervention as in Libya. Meanwhile Russia is arming Syria, strengthening its military base located in that country and sending more warships to the Mediterranean.

To bring down the Syrian regime, put in place a puppet government, dominate the oil-rich Middle East, control the eastern Mediterranean, block the expansion of China and Russia in the region and expel them as they did in Libya, to encircle Iran, weaken its influence and liquidate its closest allies, are very important objectives. Syria is the only country in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean where Russia has a military base. This small country has become a place of intense struggle between Russia and China on the one hand, and the United States and its allies on the other. The Middle East is a powder keg on the verge of religious conflicts.

Contrary to what they did in Libya, Russia and China are opposing a military intervention that would alter the balance in the Middle East and result in the domination of the United States and its allies over Syria. But they have left the door open for a possible compromise that would guarantee their interests and renew the Syrian regime which is having more and more difficulties to survive.

As the case of Afghanistan, former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Ivory Coast and Libya show, the imperialist interventions that have had the support of the liberal “defenders” of freedom and democracy, of the pseudo-socialist parties that emerged from the former revisionist parties, have resulted in increased military budgets at the expense of the workers, in the destruction of the productive forces of those countries, in many disasters, the impoverishment and decline in all social aspects. The aspiration of the peoples for the right to sovereignty and national independence, democracy and freedom has never been the concern of the occupiers. Their objective was to further prolong their system maintained by the defeat inflicted on the working class in the middle of the last century, a defeat that guaranteed their super-profits, the expansion of their spheres of influence and the weakening of their rivals. The imperialist powers, which are using all means to achieve this goal, do not lack in demagoguery and low maneuvers to disorient the people’s anger.

Now a period of sharpening of inter-imperialist contradictions is beginning, which economic-financial and political-military interventions will multiply. It is increasingly important to fight against such intervention, to develop the united fight of the workers and peoples, in both the advanced and backward countries,.

Organize the Resistance of the Workers in the New Stormy Period

The army of unemployed is growing on the world level, especially in countries in total-debt crisis, in the countries in which the economy is declining, stagnating or is in crisis. In Greece and Spain, unemployment has reached 25%. In these countries, unemployment among the youths, including college graduates, reached 50%. In the Euro zone in the second quarter of 2012, the level of unemployment reached 11.2%, according to official figures. In countries such as Egypt and Tunisia, where manufacturing has fallen from 9.6% to 7.5% in the first quarter of this year (2012), the number of unemployed continues to grow. In South Africa, the most developed country on the continent, the unemployment rate exceeds 25%.

In the current period, in almost all fields, from education to health care, drastic measures have been taken, the retirement age has been delayed and pensions have fallen. The gains of the working class worldwide are targeted for cuts or elimination. While direct taxes on the workers are increasing, no measures are taken to disturb the local and international monopolies, when even within the framework of this system one could increase taxes on the banks and the local and foreign monopolies. Wages continue to fall, etc. Many countries are suffering from a process of absolute impoverishment.

In recent years practices have been imposed worldwide such as sub-contracting labor, precarious and part-time work, an increase in the age for retirement, etc. In Germany, for example, one of the most developed countries in the world that has had significant growth rates in industrial production, according to the Federal Administration of Statistics, 15.6% of the population lives below the poverty line, a figure that rises to 26% among the immigrant population.

Last year, on a world scale and in each country, the workers and peoples movement has developed with various demands, in different forms and also at different levels. The struggles carried out in those countries with a “debt crisis” have been outstanding for their broad social base, for their responses and the experiences gained. The miners’ strike in South Africa, the youth movement and the strikes in Chile, the popular movements in Tunisia and Egypt, etc. are powerful examples of the workers and peoples struggles.

Starting with Greece, Spain and Italy, in various countries with a “debt crisis,” strikes, general strikes and huge demonstrations have taken place. In Greece and Spain, hundreds of thousands of people have expressed their anger in front of the parliaments on the days when these were voting for austerity measures. But the workers and peoples movement, despite some more advanced attempts, has remained within the framework of peaceful demonstrations, general strikes of one or two days and limited resistance. The strikes of long duration, the resistance or occupation of factories, have been limited to one enterprise or one sector.

The austerity measures have affected not only the proletariat and semi-proletarian masses of the cities and countryside; they have also affected the petty bourgeoisie and non-monopoly bourgeois strata. Even the less dynamic strata, the traditional base of the bourgeois parties, have been mobilized given the current situation. The social base of the struggle against the bourgeoisie in Power and against imperialism has expanded, to the point where in some dependent countries the mobilization has taken the character of a movement of the whole nation, except for a handful of monopolists. The conditions are maturing for the working class and its revolutionary parties, as representatives and the vanguard of the nation, to decide to organize and advance the movement and the united front of the people.

But despite the great movement, the groups of international finance capital and the local monopoly bourgeoisies have not given in (except in the recent delay of the austerity measures in Portugal). They have decided to implement these measures even at the cost of demeaning the image of the parliaments and weakening their social base. However, the masses are realizing through their own experience the impossibility of repelling the attacks with one or two day strikes or through peaceful demonstrations. Sharper forms of struggle and unlimited general strike are beginning to be considered by the more advanced strata.

It is clear that the bourgeoisie in Power, with their hostile character towards the people, is assuming a position of national betrayal. The traditional parties of the bourgeoisie and parliaments have lost credibility and the mass support for those parties is weakening (especially toward those in government that are implementing austerity measures). The social basis of monopoly capital is weakening. Among the masses who have felt their national pride hurt by the imperialists, the discontent, anger and will to struggle against the major imperialist powers, beginning with the United States and Germany, against institutions like the IMF or the EU, and against the local monopoly bourgeoisie that is collaborating with them, is developing.

The trade union bureaucracy and reformist parties and social trends are following a backward line of “least resistance,” not only in their forms of organization and struggle, but also at the level of political demands and platform. Clearly, this attitude is contributing to weakening their influence among the workers. The attacks and harshness of the social conditions are also affecting the lower strata of the labor bureaucracy and aristocracy and are sharpening the contradictions within their ranks.

The struggles in the countries with “debt crisis” are being developed on a program of protest against the bourgeois governments and parties, against institutions such as the IMF and the EU that are imposing draconian measures and they are demanding their withdrawal. At first this was natural and understandable in the context of a spontaneous movement. But the inability to go beyond those narrow limits is one of the major weaknesses of the movement. This weakness can be overcome with the work of agitation that shows the masses the way out of this difficult situation in which the people and the country find themselves, denouncing the social forces that are an obstacle to that way out. This work of agitation is reinforced by putting forward appropriate demands, slogans and forms of struggle among the masses.

Especially in Greece, certain small groups (that also have weaknesses) have proposed relatively advanced demands and platforms. But the forces capable of influencing the movement are not even concerned with organizing the work necessary to promote the fight on all fronts. The absence or great weakness of a revolutionary class party, has been felt strongly, as it cannot influence the movement.

Linked to the evolution of the world economy, the period that is beginning will be one of further degradation of the living and working conditions for the workers and peoples, a period of intense economic and political attacks, of discontent, anger and militancy among workers, as well as sharpening of inter-imperialist contradictions and conflicts. We must draw lessons and conclusions from the recent developments and the historical experience of the working class and peoples; we must advance, renewing our work and reorganizing our parties.

Tunisia, November 2012

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International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations: Resolution on the West African Region and Mali

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Since 2010, the West African region and particularly the sub-Saharan zone has been marked by the armed interference and intervention of the imperialist powers. The objectives of those actions are:

* Political, geostrategic and military, related to the struggle for the redivision of the world and of the African continent.

* Economic (access to the petroleum of the Gulf of Guinea and the Ivory Coast; to the uranium of Niger and the precious metals that abound in the region; to solar energy; cacao, coffee, etc.

* The struggle of the Anglo-Saxon (U.S. and Great Britain) and French imperialists to prevent the penetration into the region by new actors such as China, India, Brazil, etc.

* The will of the imperialist powers to crush any type of protest by the popular masses, who are condemned to misery and lacking in political freedom, as well as the repression that they suffer carried out by the corrupt puppet powers, and their desire to crush any revolutionary insurrectionary movement.

The military-political crisis after the military coup d’état of the National Committee for the Defense and Restoration of the State (CNRDE) of March 22, 2012, as well as the military occupation of the North of Mali, begun January 22, 2012, which covers two thirds of the national territory, an occupation carried out by the National Movement for the Liberation of AZAWAD (MNLA) and the “jihadists” (AQMI, ANSAR, DINE, MUJAO, BOKO, HARAM…) must be put in this context

The military-political crisis in Mali has grave consequences for the neighboring countries, particularly Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, etc. and the group of the countries of the west African region (destabilization of States, proliferation of arms, massive displacement of populations towards the South of Mali, and thousands of refugees in other neighboring countries).

The military-political crisis in Mali is also a threat to the interests of imperialism, particularly French imperialism, in that country and the whole region. That is why there are preparatory maneuvers for an open military intervention that the troops provided by the members countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) can carry out, with the consent and logistical support of the great imperialist powers (France and U.S.A.) and of the UN under the pretext of “making a secure transition,” of “restoring constitutional life” and of “restoring Mali’s territorial integrity.” This is a reactionary plan by the imperialist powers and their allies in the region to maintain and reinforce their domination.

Faced with this serious situation, the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO):

* Denounces and condemns the puppet powers that have opened their territories (particularly in Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Niger, Mauritania and Senegal) to the troops of imperialist aggression.

* Denounces and condemns the proclamation of independence of the State of AZAWAD by the MNLA, instrument of French imperialism.

* Denounces and condemns the crimes perpetrated against the peoples of the North of Mali by terrorist group AQMI and the Islamist groups ANSAR-DINE, MUJAO and the MNLA.

* Supports the brave resistance of the peoples, particularly of the youth, against oppression and medieval and obscurantist practices.

* Denounces and condemns the reactionary plan of the ECOWAS in Mali.

* Calls on the proletariat and peoples of the imperialist countries, particularly France, to support the Malian people in their struggle for a revolutionary solution of the military-political crisis.

* Calls for solidarity and support for the struggle of the peoples of the West African region against imperialist domination and their African lackeys.

Tunisia, November of 2012.

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The killing of US ambassador to Libya: who is to blame?

Washington sticks to the stupid policy of using Islamic fundamentalists for its own self-serving agenda. The Islamists who stormed the US embassy in Cairo carried Bin Laden portraits.

The founder of the Al Qaeda terrorist network began his murky career in Afghanistan, where he worked as a CIA agent fighting against the country’s legitimate government and Soviet forces deployed there.

America’s image suffered a major blow following the killing of US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens in an attack against the American consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday. Throughout time, killing an ambassador has been regarded as a grave insult to the state he represented and has served as a pretext for many wars.

This time, however, there is no one to go into battle against. Ambassador Stevens was killed by those who came to power with American help not long ago. “I keep asking myself,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, in confusion, “how could this have happened in a country that the US helped to liberate?” Apart from asking questions, Washington is sending warships to Libya and neighboring countries and is hastily moving SEAL forces to protect US consulates in troubled countries.

However, US marines will hardly be able to do anything about what can well be described as an unprecedented anti-American uprising which has swept all countries of the Middle East and North Africa and had spread to India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, countries of Central Europe, and even faraway Australia.

The shallow and poorly made film denigrating prophet Muhammad became but a tiny spark triggering an explosion of a devastating force. It’s clear to any sober-minded individual that the “masterpiece” which was definitely watched by no more than a handful of Internet surfers couldn’t have set off millions of people in countries scattered all over the world.

The current unrest is the result of years-long discontent over the US doggedness in forcing American values on the rest of the world. On top of that, Washington sticks to the stupid policy of using Islamic fundamentalists for its own self-serving agenda. The Islamists who stormed the US embassy in Cairo carried Bin Laden portraits.

The founder of the Al Qaeda terrorist network began his murky career in Afghanistan, where he worked as a CIA agent fighting against the country’s legitimate government and Soviet forces deployed there. Given that the US continued to adhere to this tactic in subsequent years, the current lamenting over the unthankful Libyans in connection with the killing of Ambassador Stevens, who participated in person in the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi and was linked to Islamists, is either hypocrisy, or political short-sightedness.

I once asked 16th World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov how many moves ahead he saw in chess and he answered that depending on the circumstances he calculated two or three, or sometimes six or seven moves ahead. It looks like the unfortunate “grandmasters” from Washington never see more than one move ahead. After invading Iraq and removing Saddam Hussein, the Bush-Cheney team stopped planning any further. As a result, the country has plunged into chaos and has become a terrorism hub and Al Qaeda base, thus being on the brink of falling apart.

Current developments in Europe, which was a US stronghold until now, have thrown Washington into outright confusion. The same is true regarding countries that have seen the Arab Spring, which hopefully, will not grow into an ‘Arab Winter’.

Intrigue-prone Republican candidate Mitt Romney is trying to cash in on the current state of affairs by lashing out at Barack Obama with accusations. Even though the current mess was started by the Bush-Cheney administration, the incumbent leadership will have to sort it out, no matter who comes to power in January next year.

And it will be years before this mess is sorted out eventually.

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Bloodbath mars anti-Maoist ‘success’

By Sudha Ramachandran

BANGALORE – India’s anti-Maoist operations are under fire again.
It appears that 19 “hardcore Maoists” who the government claimed were killed in an encounter with the Chhattisgarh police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on the night of June 27-28 were in fact unarmed civilians. About a dozen of those killed were below 16 years of age, and at least one of them just 12.

What officials jubilantly declared at first to be one of the biggest successes of India’s war against Maoists was described by a social activist, Swami Agnivesh, who has acted as a government-appointed interlocutor with the Maoists, as “cold-blooded murder”, the worst massacre of civilians in the nation’s post-independence history.

The incident happened at Sarkeguda, 400 kilometers from Raipur, the state capital, in Bijapur district in the eastern Indian state of Chhattisgarh, which is the epicenter of the ongoing military operations against the Maoists. Chhattisgarh is rich in minerals but the tribals who live there are among India’s poorest. They have borne the brunt of the war between the security forces and the Maoists.

There are different versions of what happened that night.

In the early hours of June 28, the CRPF said, “19 hardcore Maoists” were killed in an encounter in Bijapur’s dense jungles. But soon after, accounts – quite at odds with the police narrative – began trickling out of those dense jungles. These accounts drew attention to the horrific killing of villagers by the police that night.

Realizing that their “encounter” was snowballing into a major controversy, the CRPF quickly revised its version, claiming that “Maoists and their sympathizers” had been killed in the “encounter”.

Sarkeguda, Kottaguda and Rajpeta are three small tribal settlements consisting of fewer than a hundred huts altogether. These were among the villages that suffered terrible violence in 2006 when government-created local militias called Salwa Judum killed people and looted and burned down their homes. More than 600 villages were emptied out as terrified tribals fled into neighboring states. It is only after the Supreme Court ordered the disbanding of Salwa Judum – it continues to exist in other forms and different names – that the villagers slowly returned. They were rebuilding their lives – constructing their homes, cultivating their land and sending children to school – when terror returned in the form of the CRPF to Sarkeguda, Kottaguda and Rajpeta.

The three villages are separated from one another by a small clearing. It was in this clearing that the villagers had assembled at around 8pm that night for a meeting. The meeting began late. At around 11pm, the villagers say, they were surrounded by police who began firing at them. The firing went on for hours.

CRPF sources say they had come to know of a Maoist meeting that was to be held on the night of June 27 at Silgerh near Sarkeguda. An operation was planned to strike at the Maoists. According to the plan, about 800 troops stationed at Basaguda, Chintalnar and Jagarmunda would converge from three directions at Silgerh.

Troops from the CRPF camp at Basaguda are reported to have set off that night at around 9pm. As they advanced toward Silgerh, they came upon a congregation of people at Sarkeguda.

According to the CRPF, Maoists at the meeting opened fire and the police retaliated. An encounter ensued in which “Maoists and their sympathizers” were killed. Six CRPF personnel were wounded, four of them suffering gunshot injuries.

CRPF director general Vijay Kumar told the media that the police had been ambushed by the Maoists and that they had retaliated as per the standard operating procedures.

“We had to protect ourselves after so many [police] were injured in open fire,” he said. Expressing concern that the Maoists had used the villagers as human shields, he claimed that twice his troops “retreated on seeing women and children in the front”.

Villagers insist there were no Maoists at the gathering; neither had the Maoists called the meeting. They say they had gathered to discuss an upcoming festival related to the sowing of crops.

However, 12-year-old Chhotu Hakka of Sarkeguda, who was shot in the knees, told news channel NDTV correspondent Sreenivasan Jain that there were three or four Maoists present at the meeting that night. In hospital and isolated from others in his village, Chhotu appears in the news clip to be unaware of the line his village has taken – or was made to take by the Maoists – that there were no Maoists around that night.

CRPF officials have pointed to bullet injuries sustained by their personnel as evidence of an encounter. While The Hindu has reported one villager as surmising that the police might have accidentally shot one another when they surrounded the village, the latter have countered that by pointing out that the bullets that caused injury were of the kind the Maoists use.

Piecing together the various accounts, it seems that the CRPF operation was based on faulty intelligence. When troops from Jagarmunda reached Silgerh that night, they found no Maoists there.

It does seem that Maoists called a meeting of villagers at Sarkeguda and lay in ambush there. When troops from the Basaguda camp passed Sarkeguda, the rebels fired at them, knowing well that the trigger-happy CRPF would retaliate and end up shooting into a crowd of innocent villagers. The CRPF walked into a Maoist trap that night.

What followed was a massacre.

It is hard to understand why the CRPF fired as it did. Surely it was aware that village meetings here are often of “indeterminate nature”, writes Shoma Chaudhury in the Tehelka newsmagazine. “They know villagers are often summoned by Maoists for public hearings: These are orders that cannot be refused. If they didn’t know whom they were firing at that night, why did they not retreat rather than shoot to kill at random?”

Had the government simply admitted the terrible mistake the next morning, it might have limited the damage. Instead, a cover-up operation followed, adding salt to wounds.

The manner in which serious charges appear to have been fabricated and slapped on some of the dead to prove that “Maoists” were indeed killed that night has fueled outrage.

Home Affairs Minister P Chidambaram, under whose charge the CRPF falls, has defended the operation, as has the chief minister of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh. Interestingly, the two belong to rival political parties, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) respectively.

Chidambaram has come under criticism not just from activists and civil society but also from his own colleagues in the Congress party. Federal Tribal Affairs Minister Kishore Chandra Deo has described the operation as a “fake encounter”, and Congress politicians in Chhattisgarh have described it as a “botch-up”. A report by the Congress’ Chhattisgarh unit has listed and named seven children among those killed. No Maoists figure in this report. This is in sharp contrast to the statement issued by the home minister last week wherein he claimed that three Maoists were killed and, barring one 15-year-old boy, the dead were all adults.

Neither the state nor the Maoists have come out looking good from the incident at Sarkeguda. Clearly, both have little regard for the tribals they claim to be liberating or for the young lives they have snuffed out.

Two of the “top Maoists” who were killed that night were Kaka Nagesh, 15, and Madkam Ramvilas. They lived in a government hostel for schoolchildren and had come home for the summer vacation. Being among the villages’ few educated boys, they were tasked with the responsibility of figuring out how much each villager had to contribute for the seed festival. Nagesh and Ramvilas were present at the meeting to share those figures.

Earlier this year the two were among three students of Kottaguda village selected to visit the port city of Visakhapatnam for an educational tour. Their experiences at Visakhapatnam left a deep impression on the boys. It fired in Nagesh a dream to become mariner. As for Ramvilas, “He wanted to be a lawyer when he grew up,” his sister says.

Given their excellent performance in the government school they attended – the two were said to be the brightest in the school – they might have indeed achieved their dreams.

On the night of June 27-28, the CRPF and Maoists ensured that those dreams died young.

Sudha Ramachandran is an independent journalist/researcher based in Bangalore.

(Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

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Communist Ghadar Party of India: On the Presidential Elections, 2012

The selection of a suitable candidate for the President of India, to be elected in July 2012, has been one of the major preoccupations of the ruling circles of our country in recent weeks.

The issue has gained in importance because of the critical nature of the present political situation, and because of the important role and powers of the President especially in times of political instability, crisis and potential “emergency” situations.

Present Situation

The Presidential election comes at a time of all-round crisis of the existing system. The big bourgeoisie is impatient to move ahead with its program of reforms, which have stalled in the face of very broad and growing resistance among the people, along with opposition within the ruling coalition.

The anger of workers has been steadily rising against the soaring prices, violation of labour rights and intensification of their exploitation. A united workers’ opposition is gaining strength against the privatisation and liberalisation program. Workers in diverse sectors are opposing the proposed new law on pensions aimed at robbing the savings of the working class for the benefit of the capitalists. Bank workers are contesting the need for banks in our country to be driven solely by profit maximisation and “global competitiveness”.

Peasants and tribal peoples have been up in arms against the attempts of big capitalist corporations to grab their land, and the proposed new Land Acquisition Act that is designed to assist this land grab.

There is widespread opposition among workers, peasants and small traders to allowing foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail trade.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, after returning from the G-20 meetings, has hinted at tough measures ahead, to end the “policy paralysis”. There is already much talk about the deterioration of India’s balance of payments and fiscal situation, alongside the economic downturn. There are calls for “austerity measures”, meaning further attacks on the living standards of the toiling majority so as to rescue corporate profits.

The mass resistance to the capitalist-imperialist program is fuelling the further intensification of inter-capitalist contradictions. Rivalry among the big monopoly groups fuelled the exposure of one scam after another. Conflicts have intensified between the big monopoly capitalists and various regional bourgeois groups. Regional bourgeois groups are demanding their share and resisting the overriding dictate of the biggest monopoly companies. Various state governments are resisting the imposition of central dictate on many fronts.

The entire system of democracy and its political process is extremely discredited at this time, as are the principal parties in Parliament. In this context, the Communist Ghadar Party of India has been consistently pointing out that the fundamental flaw is that the supreme power, or sovereignty, is vested in the hands of a tiny clique. The Constitution proclaims it as rule by the people, while actually legitimising Cabinet Rule.

The necessity to end the self-serving rule of an exploiting minority and vest sopvereignty in their own hands is being recognised by more and more sections of workers, peasants and progressive intelligentsia.

Faced with all-round crisis and discredit of their much touted democracy, the big bourgeoisie is keen to select a tried and tested politician for the post of President during 2012-17, one who could restore some credibility to the existing system. The big business houses want a President who would facilitate the pursuit of their imperialist aims, help resolve internal conflicts within the capitalist class and also be able to justify fascist measures to suppress the people’s resistance.

Presidential Powers

The Constitution of India vests a wide range of powers in the hands of the President, including executive, legislative, judicial, financial and emergency powers. The exercise of these powers are subject to the overriding condition that the President is bound to follow the advice of the Council of Ministers (the Cabinet) headed by the Prime Minister. The President may return a proposal to the Cabinet once, for reconsideration. If the same proposal is submitted again, he is bound to approve.

It would be wrong to conclude from this that the President is merely a rubber stamp. If the President returns a major Cabinet recommendation for reconsideration, such as the imposition of President’s Rule in a state or the proclamation of a National or Financial Emergency, it would precipitate an acute political crisis.

There are also particular times when the President exercises decision-making power on vital matters. When elections to Parliament results in no clear majority and there are contending claims, the President uses his judgment to decide which party to invite first to demonstrate its majority. If there is a deadlock between the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on any legislation, the President has the power to summon a joint session to resolve the dispute.

Conclusions

Taking into account the present situation and the turbulent times ahead, the big bourgeoisie has selected Pranab Mukherjee as the preferred candidate for the post of President. This is the reason that in spite of the initial hesitation of the Congress Party and the various alternative names proposed by regional parties, Mukherjee has emerged as the favourite in the race. This is not the result of the activities of political party leaders alone, as presented on TV news channels. It is primarily the result of the guiding hand of the big capitalists that operates behind the curtain.

As far as the working class, peasants and other working people are concerned, there is nothing to cheer in the selection of Mukherjee. He may be well educated and wise, but his knowledge and wisdom are not for the benefit of workers and peasants. He has a proven track record of having consistently served the capitalist monopoly houses of our country.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is playing a harmful role in this situation by responding positively to the call of the big bourgeoisie, and canvassing support for Mukherjee among its friends and allies.

Communists must strive to utilise the instability and crisis of bourgeois rule to the advantage of the working class and the cause of the revolution.

The Communist Ghadar Party is striving to utilise the present crisis to build unity around the aim and program of replacing the existing capitalist democracy with a superior system and political process. That superior system is proletarian democracy – a system in which supreme power will be in the hands of the working people, who will control those they elect, and who in turn will control the executive power. The relation between the Union and its constituents will be redefined on the basis of recognising the right of every nation, nationality and people to self-determination.

CPI(M) is doing exactly the opposite of what a Communist Party is duty bound to do. It is rushing to the assistance of the ruling bourgeoisie when it is in crisis. It is pursuing the treacherous road of embracing the capitalist-imperialist program and at the same time claiming to be defending workers’ and peasants’ interests.

The task of communists is not to help the bourgeoisie to stabilise its rule. It is to lead the working class and people to take supreme power out of the hands of the Cabinet and the President in Parliament, and vest it in their own hands, so as to bury capitalism and build socialism.

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