2014 - People’s War in India as Strategic Anchor
The present world situation shows great potential for a powerful new wave of world revolution. In country after country, in the oppressed countries and imperialist ones, the masses are coming out in the lakhs to struggle. Quite often this rapidly takes a militant turn, leading to violent clashes with the repressive forces of the ruling classes. These struggles are introducing a whole new generation to the battle against the exploiters. Compared to the past, the increased presence of young women and social sections suffering from specific forms of oppression is notable. This augurs well for the cause of the world revolution. Yet it remains a hard fact that the organised forces of revolution, the communist vanguard, are severely lagging in linking up with and unleashing the revolutionary potential existing in the world. The international communist movement (ICM) is yet to overcome the setback it has suffered following the coup of the Teng-Hua clique of 1976 that destroyed socialism in China. The situation is, of course, not totally negative. Though a turn around is yet to be won, several Maoist parties stood firm against Teng revisionism and Hoxha’s dogmato-revisionism, and continued to develop revolutionary practice. Overcoming the problems caused by the lack of a socialist country that could play a central role, they built relations among themselves and succeeded in the formation of international organisations such as the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the Co-ordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South Asia, and others. The wide adoption of Marxism- Leninism-Maoism as the new stage of proletarian ideology, the formation of new Maoist parties, formation of single parties through the unification of Maoist forces in a country and the continuation and advance of people’s wars have all kept the revolutionary project of communism alive and gained it new adherents.
History teaches us that great advances of the communist movement have more often come with major victories in revolutionary struggle through the creative application of Marxism. This is well captured in Mao Tsetung’s words “The cannon salvoes of the October revolution brought Marxism-Leninism to China.” This remains true even today. Advances in revolutionary practice demonstrate the correctness and viability of the communist project, as a material reality. Thus they take the message of communism to the broad masses in a vastly powerful manner and on a very large scale. The people’s wars that have sustained, overcoming setbacks and disruption, and the new ones that were launched after the setback in China, have precisely played this role. Their very existence refuted imperialist propaganda on the total defeat of communism, their sermons on the ‘end of history’ and the lies of revisionism about the ‘impossibility of armed revolution’ in the present world. They have, by way of example, attracted, enthused and inspired new generations to rally around the red flag, plunge into battle against imperialism and reaction and sacrifice their lives for the cause of the people.
These successes by the Maoists in facing up to the loss of all socialist countries and building towards overcoming the setback in the ICM was met with fierce attacks and heavy suppression by the imperialists and the comprador ruling classes. They were aided in this by the attacks of new hues of revisionism, such as the Right opportunist line in Peru, betrayal of the Nepalese revolution by the Prachanda-Bhattarai clique and liquidationism of Avakian, that have come up within the Maoist movement. These combined attacks have taken their toll.
The people’s war in Nepal has for all practical purposes been liquidated. The revolutionary consciousness it generated still lives on. But the successful advance of the Nepalese revolution cannot simply pick up from where it was stopped in 2006. It demands a relaunch of people’s war. And this will be possible only if, like in 1996, a resolute struggle is waged against revisionism and centrism, in particular the wrong line that emerged from that party’s leadership, consecrated as ‘Prachanda Path’ and concretised in a series of deviations that led to the overturning of the party’s strategic orientation and ended up in the liquidation of the people’s war.
Though the Maoists in Peru have succeeded in defeating the plans of the Right opportunists and keep the Red Flag flying, the setback caused by their disruption is painfully apparent. Much hinges on the further success of the Maoists in their plans to reorganise the party and push forward along the path of protracted people’s war, upholding the revolutionary line formulated under the leadership of comrade Gonzalo and taking lessons from the bitter experience of the setback.
In Turkey and Bangladesh, ruthless attacks by the enemy have caused severe losses to the Maoist movement and the people’s wars. The Maoist parties in these countries are striving hard to overcome this situation. By persevering on the path of revolution, guided by MLM, they will surely succeed in this. However, in the present situation, there is still much to be done before these people’s wars, also initiated in the 1960s, retake the heights they had earlier achieved.
All of these people’s wars, having emerged and developed in the post-2 world war period, have given rich experiences and valuable lessons for the international proletariat. The continued efforts of Maoist parties in these countries to sum up their experiences and advance will surely give results, eventually. But, for the present, the setbacks they have suffered have once again seriously weakened the ICM. In this context, the strong resence of people’s wars in the Philippines and India stand out. Both of them were initiated under the direct influence of the great revolt against revisionism of the 1960s led by Mao Tsetung. They drew inspiration from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution that took Marxism to the higher stage of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. The Philippines people’s war has spread out all over the archipelago and is now advancing to the stage of strategic stalemate. This country is of great strategic importance for US imperialism. It has stationed a large naval force there. It trains and arms the Philippines army and directly takes part in the planning of the counter-revolutionary war directed against the new democratic revolution of that country, led by the Communist Party of Philippines. The people’s war of the Philippines gives rich experiences and valuable lessons, particularly in the matter of confronting and defeating the Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) strategy promoted by the US. Its further advance will inevitably open up an important phase of direct confrontation of US imperialism with a revolutionary war led by Maoists. This will have great repercussions throughout the world.
The people’s war in India is still in the stage of strategic defensive. It is at present being waged in the Central and Eastern regions of the country, while efforts are on to open up a new war front in the South Western part of the Indian peninsula, centring on the southern part of the Sahyadri mountain range. The area falling within the ambit of the people’s war in the Central and Eastern regions is quite large. The Bastar area in the Dandakaranya region is itself larger than the State of Keralam. The whole area falling within the war zones would be greater than that of Tamilnadu and Keralam. The area over which Revolutionary People’s Committees, the organs of new political power created through the people’s war, exercise authority is also quite substantial. Yet, given the size of the country, its huge population, and diversity of nationalities and geographical characteristics, this is still quite small. The population in the war zones is predominantly tribal and the economies are backward. The People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) with its three forces, including the people’s militia as its base force, has carried out some daring and powerful attacks in District centres itself. It has proved capable of attacking and annihilating company level formations of the enemy and breaking out of its ‘encirclement and suppression’ campaigns. But, compared to the strength and capacities of the Indian state’s forces, that include the three wings of its armed forces, the various para-military forces and police forces of the States, the PLGA is still a small and weak force.
In sharp contrast to these relative weaknesses and limitations, the political impact of this people’s war, within the country and internationally, far outstrips them. The political resonance of this people’s war was seen in the widespread support it gained in face of the brutal suppression campaign, Operation Green Hunt, launched by the Indian government. It galvanised broad sections to come out in solidarity. The formation of an international forum against the Indian state’s ‘war on people’ focussing on the violation of human rights and the international solidarity committee which sees its relevance in the need to defend and support the people’s war, precisely because of its Maoist orientation, are two outstanding world-level manifestations.
The reasons for this development are directly related to the position of India in the present world. It is the second most populous country in the world, on the way to becoming the first well before the middle of this century. Its size and largeness of economy puts it in a league different from most Third World countries. Its geo-political role as the pillar of imperialist domination in South Asia, again one of the most populated regions of the world, and its own expansionist nature makes it extremely crucial for the imperialist system. Above all it is a powder keg, a tangle of all sorts of contradictions. The emergence, sustenance and steady growth of a people’s war in this country has great importance. That is why the Communist Party of China led by Mao Tsetung immediately acclaimed the armed peasant rebellion of Naxalbari, in 1967. This rebellion was in itself quite small in scale, compared to say the Telangana armed struggle or the Tebhaga revolt. But what counted was its immense political significance, the rebirth of a revolutionary road in India led by Maoists.
The victorious conclusion of the new democratic revolution of India will have world-historic significance, not because of some intrinsic additional quality it enjoys compared to others, but because of all the reasons outlined above. It could powerfully propel forward or set off a chain of revolutions in South Asian countries, equally ripe for revolution and historically a region where the Maoist movement, including people’s wars, has been widely present. This is the international significance of the people’s war in India. This is why it is seen as a ‘strategic anchor’ (along with other people’s wars) in the present world situation by Maoist forces in the world. That is also why the solidarity movement that has come up in its support has brought together a number of Maoist forces, who have the orientation of making revolution in their own country as the best form of solidarity they can give to the people’s war in India. At a time when millions are out in the streets and seek a reliable path to realise their aspirations for a different world, a world free of exploitation and oppression, the people’s wars stand out as material examples of what is needed and what can be done. They thus give direction through their live, revolutionary, presence. This becomes even more significant in the present context of setbacks suffered by the ICM.
The great support enjoyed by the people’s war in India is also an indication of high expectations of the people of the world. The Maoists in India are duty bound to meet and fulfil them. Though this is foremost a matter of further advance in revolutionary practice, it is not limited to that alone. The growth and victorious advance of the people’s war in India has generated a wealth of rich experiences — in building a proletarian vanguard from within a swelter of castes, tribes and nationalities each with their own identities and cultures; in mobilising the masses in the lakhs and leadingthem on the path of revolution; in uniting with a host of non-proletarian forces well articulated in their distinct political positions; in building up a revolutionary army starting from zero, through an armed struggle that had to, from the very beginning, face a highly equipped state with decades of experience in suppressing revolutionary parties and armed movements; in developing the people’s war overcoming setbacks and critical conditions and facing vastly superior forces; in building new political power among masses divided by numerous contradictions ranging from gender to ethnicity; in correctly handling all these contradictions among the people (each of which could be used by the enemy), to consolidate this power and further advance the anti-feudal, anti-imperialist new democratic revolution. This vast reservoir of experience also makes it incumbent on the Maoists in India to theorise them.
Some of this has been surely done. But much, much more, is called for. This is evidently vital for raising the qualitative level of the revolutionary forces, of the people’s war, and for ensuring the victory of the Indian revolution. Above that, it is an important internationalist task to be taken up conscientiously by the Maoist vanguard in India. It is a contribution it can and must make to the cause of the world socialist revolution and the ideology guiding it. The complexities of contradictions propelling a revolution forward, which it must resolve to succeed, invariably bring up the necessity of developing conceptual understanding on the theoretical positions of Marxism. The greater the tangle of contradictions, the more this is called for. The Indian revolution is uniquely placed in this matter in that it draws sustenance from a rich diversity of contradictions. A number of them form the bases of specific identities. Imperialists and reactionaries persistently try to turn the awakening of oppressed social sections into ‘identity walls’. Thus they seek to fence them off from the cause of total social revolution, necessary for their liberation. Therefore, the successful handling of these identities and the revolutionary resolution of the contradictions underlying them under the guidance of Maoism and the development of theory through the synthesis of that experience will be certainly of much relevance in the contemporary world. Similarly, theoretical synthesis of the experiences in building the proletarian vanguard amidst these complex social conditions and its success in uniting all the streams of protest, struggle and rebellion – including those fiercely adhering to their specific identities – into a mighty, yet variegated, torrent of revolution will also be of great service; more so in these times where ‘rainbow coalitions’ pretend at replacing the Leninist vanguard concept.
Furthermore, as the leader of a people’s war, successfully sustaining and developing it, the CPI (Maoist) enjoys a position where it can contribute much in furthering the cause of building of an international organisation of the proletariat, suitable to the present situation of the ICM. This can play the role of a catalyst for the formation of a broad, worldwide, anti-imperialist forum and act as its core. Both of them are urgently called for by the favourable objective situation existing in the world. Both of them will be of immense help in overcoming the subjective lag thus further unleashing the potential new wave of revolution. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the formation of the CPI (Maoist), we must further our efforts to reciprocate the warm gestures of solidarity extended to the people’s war in both ways by better carrying out our revolutionary tasks within the country and also internationally. Only thus can the potentials of this people’s war as a strategic anchor in the present world situation be given full play.
Finally, it would do well to remind ourselves of the advice Engel gave to the German proletariat, “...for the present moment the German workers form the vanguard of the proletarian struggle. How long events will allow them to occupy this post of honour cannot be foreseen. But as long as they are placed in it, let us hope that they will discharge their duties in the proper manner...In the first place, however, it is necessary to retain a real international spirit which permits of no chauvinism, which joyfully greets each new step of the proletarian movement, no matter in which nation it is made. If the German workers proceed in this way, they may not march exactly at the head of the movement – it is not in the interest of the movement that the workers of one country should march at the head of all – but they will occupy an honourable place on the battle line, and they will stand armed for battle when other unexpected grave trials or momentous events will demand heightened courage, heightened determination, and the will to act.”