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Our Response to the letter of Tjen Folket

by Sanjay Singhvi, CPI(ML), 10 August 2013

We are sad that one of the organizations of ICOR has decided to leave but we disagree with the manner in which this resignation has been made and the actual content of the resignation also.

ICOR is an organization for practical activity. Parties in ICOR have different views on many questions and even on “guiding principles”. There is a good and democratic atmosphere amongst the various constituents of ICOR. In India itself, there are two different parties which are members of ICOR. An atmosphere of free and frank debate has always been encouraged in ICOR. It is surprising that Tien Folket did not raise even a single point in debate but chose to take the ultimate step of resignation. This itself points to a sectarian point of view. Even now we invite Tien Folket to raise any real misgivings that they may have so that they can be thrashed out. We will certainly accept the error of our ways if this can be pointed out to us.

Tien Folket has leveled one-sided abuse against our party. (Since we are the most active party from India in ICOR activities, we presume that they mean us). This is again not the correct communist method. They could easily have communicated their criticisms about us to us and we would have either clarified any misinformation or have elaborated our point of view which would have resulted in a fruitful discussion in which, if proved wrong, we would certainly have been ready to change our views. Avoiding such a debate shows contempt for us and for other parties in ICOR, an undemocratic attitude and ultimately, a sectarian attitude.

Coming to the actual content of the criticism, Tien Folket says that we have denounced Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. This is absolutely untrue. We do not accept “Maoism” as we feel that we are still in the era of Leninism, that is the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution. We have written many articles on this and how “Maoism” as a concept is misconceived. Many parties in ICOR do not accept “Maoism”. Some, like us, accept “Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought” as a guiding principle. Some accept only “Marxism-Leninism”. It would be dishonest and ridiculous if we were to resign from ICOR citing that Tien Folket “denounces” Mao Tse Tung Thought or Marxism-Leninism. We know that many parties in ICOR do accept “Maoism”. In Latin America, there exist many parties which use “Maoism” while still accepting that we are in the era of Leninism. Here the “ism” is used mainly as a tribute to Mao's contributions, which we have never denied. We find that there is very little difference with such parties aside from semantics. However, when parties, like the CPI (Maoist) use “Maoism” to indicate that the era has changed, we find this a dangerous concept.

The political report presented to the 9th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party by Lin Biao in April 1969 asserted that this was the era “in which imperialism is heading for total collapse and socialism is advancing to world-wide victory”. This was, in our view, mistaken understanding. In the same report, Lin Biao put forward the four fundamental contradictions in the world then in a different way. We feel that this was also arising out of the mistaken idea of a change in the era. In the same way, many parties all over the world, following the Chinese party's lead in fighting Khruschovian revisionism, also succumbed to the change of era theory. In India, for instance, on the question of participation in elections, the CPI (ML) of that time said that parliament was  politically and historically obsolete in this era. This was in direct contradiction to the position of Lenin in “'Left Wing' Communism: An Infantile Disorder”. We would like very much to know the views of Tien Folket on these important questions like the one concerning the change of era so that we can take this discussion further, rather than hardening positions based on semantics.

Tien Folket has said that we “denounce” the CPI (Maoist). If by this they mean that we do not agree with them then this is obvious and should have been so from the preliminary meetings for the formation of ICOR. If we had agreed with them on strategic questions, there would not have been any need for being in different parties. We do “denounce” the CPI (Maoist) when they indulge in attacks on railway passenger trains killing hundreds of innocent passengers or even when they attacked the election convoy of the ruling party and killed 27 people. At the same time, we have consistently fought against the atrocities committed on the Maoists by the state and police forces and also on the atrocities committed by them on the people in the name of fighting Maoists. The CPI (Maoist) still calls for “boycott of elections” as a strategic matter and denounces all parties who ever participate in elections in this “era” as “revisionist”. It does not build any All-India class / mass organisations and places its whole emphasis is only on “area-wise seizure of power”. It still upholds the path of protracted peoples war as the only path for revolution in India. Such a strategy comes out of a sectarian and anarchist approach.  We have often made this criticism of the CPI (Maoist) clear. However, we do not understand Tien Folket's objection. Do they agree that “boycott of elections” is a strategic matter and that all parties who participate in elections in this “era” are “revisionist”? If so then why did they join ICOR in the first place, as it is well known that most of the parties in ICOR do participate in elections? Do they believe in the formation of All-Norway class and mass organisations or not? Do they believe in “area-wise seizure of power” in Norway also? Do they believe if such a strategy will work in India today? We would love to have an opportunity to have a discussion on these questions with them.

About the path of protracted peoples war, our stand is very clear. We have given up the path of “protracted peoples war” as the path of revolution in India. We have adopted a document called “Path of Indian revoluion” in the Special Conference in Bhopal in 2009 and further elaborated on this in the 9th Congress of our party held in Bhubaneshwar in 2011. A copy of this document is available on our website www.cpiml.in. In particular http://www.cpiml.in/home/files/Party%20Documents/ Basic_Documents_of_CPI_ML.pdf  will give you the document in the chapter “Path of Indian revolution”. Much earlier we had noted that Mao had never put forward “protracted people's war” as the strategy for the revolution applicable all over the world. It was only Lin Biao in his speech “Long Live the Victory of the People's War” in 1966 had put forward the view that the Chinese strategy is applicable in all of Asia, Africa and Latin America. We do not accept this thesis of Lin Biao. Recently we have made a critique of the New Communist Party of Italy, which accepts “protracted people's war” as the strategy for revolution in Italy. We do not “denounce” the strategy of “protracted people's war” and accept it as the correct strategy in the conditions obtaining in China in the second quarter of the 20th Century. It might even have been the correct revolutionary strategy in India at that time. However, we are not willing to accept it as the correct revolutionary strategy in all places and at all times. In particular we do not accept it as the correct revolutionary strategy for India today. The letter of Tien Folket is not clear about their stand. Do they accept it as the correct revolutionary strategy for all times and places? Do they accept it as the correct revolutionary strategy for Norway today? Do they accept it as the only correct revolutionay strategy for India today? If so on what basis do they base their acceptance? We would love to have an opportunity to discuss all these questions with them.

One more question of cardinal importance arises here. Does Tien Folket think that they will not be a part of any international formation unless all the parties constituting that formation agree with them on all the above questions? This would be very sectarian! They must clearly have known the views of different constituents of ICOR on the above questions. Certainly we have never kept our views secret. Clearly all constituents of ICOR do not agree with what seems to be their anxiety on all the above questions. We hope that they joined ICOR with eyes wide open and were not coerced or deceived into joining ICOR.

Further, while there are many parties in ICOR that we can think of which may not agree with Tien Folket on all the above questions, we are the only one to have been singled out by them. We do not know whether to be flattered, alarmed or merely amused.

Tien Folket also says that they have other important differences with other ICOR member organizations and with the ICOR basis of unity. The basis of unity has not changed since they became members. Only a few new organisations have joined ICOR since they joined. Then what is the change that has taken place which causes them to resign? They do not elaborate on which other  organisations they have important differences with and what is their difference with the basis of unity. Do they hold that their joining in the first place was itself wrong? Is this resignation in the nature of a self-criticism also? Remaining silent on such issues will not help the growth of the culture of debate. It will only encourage opportunism and other wrong tendencies.

One of the greatest causes for concern, however, is that they mention in the early part of their letter that they “have never given high priority to participate in international conferences and organisations”. They oppose this to their tasks within Norway. This is against the spirit of proletarian internationalism. Communism is an internationalist ideology. It does not counterpose the national tasks to international tasks. Especially in todays age of globalisation, international forms of production, distribution and exchange and the free flow of capital internationally, the link between the national and international tasks of communists cannot be ignored. To counterpose the national tasks to the international tasks will not be useful. We do understand that in poor countries like India, international tasks have to be limited by the resources which can be marshalled, given the cost of international travel. Such limitations will also apply to some extent to communists in richer countries. However, this should not stop communists from giving importance to international tasks. For instance, a return ticket to Europe costs around six months minimum wage in India and around 8 months minimum wage in Bangladesh. If parties from Bangladesh and India still perform their international tasks, then it must be easier for parties from Norway where a return ticket to India would cost only around one weeks starting wage (taking starting wage of around 133 NOK per hour).

Finally, we feel that communists today cannot shun debate. It is clear that “prefab” blue prints for revolution have failed all over the world. The world communist movement has been on a downturn for at least 50 years. Communism, we believe, must start from a concrete analysis of the concrete situation. Many deep and far-reaching changes have taken place in the world since the Second World War. Imperialism has changed its methods to keep with the times. The old colonial system gave way to a neo-colonial system. In the early 70s, imperialism abandoned the Keynesian “Welfare” system, for a monetarist system. In the 90s, continuing the trend of change, the Dunkel Draft, WTO and globalisation were introduced. Communists, we believe have failed to make a proper analysis of these changes. When capitalism changed to imperialism, fighting against the leading Marxists of the period like Kautsky, Lenin made a pithy analysis of imperialism. We have failed to analyse neo-colonialism, monetarism or even globalisation in this fashion. Therefore, today, more than ever, we have to encourage debate and discussion on different topics. We may be wrong in our assertions but we feel that we are still right in making attempts to break the ideological stagnation of the past many years. We cannot believe that Marx, Lenin and Mao have answered all questions. Even they would not have accepted this premise.

We beseech Tien Folket to withdraw their resignation from ICOR. We agree to discuss all questions with them freely and frankly. Our party centre has decided to invite a delegation of theirs to India to discuss all questions. We will bear all their lodging and boarding while they live in India. They can also meet other parties in India which we will facilitate to the best of our ability. We regret that we cannot bear their travel expenses.

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