Mr. Saral Sarkar has done a nice job with his article “From Marxist Socialism to Eco-Socialism — Turning Points of a Personal Journey Through a Theory of Socialism”, (Countercurrents.org on September 16, 2018), in which he has attempted to look back at a lot of issues: his political learning from his student days’, juvenile imagination on socialism, Marx, Lenin, Mao, Che, and many others. It lays bare his position.
In the article, he has tried to simultaneously hobble along many paths: reminiscence from his jejune days, politics, theories on socialism, economics, the Moscow Trial, Russo-China failures, history, ecology, and many; and thus created a complicated confusion for himself.
Mr. Sarkar amassed a lot: disjointed ideas and statements for the purpose of showing failures of socialism, etc.
“At the beginning of the journey”, Mr. Sarkar recounts in his article, “stood the most famous two sentences of Marx, which I read as a college student: ‘Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point however is to change it.’”
His problem began immediately as he, according to the article, “faced with a dilemma. There was no need for me to interpret the world; that had already been done for us by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin et al.” An amazing situation for the college student!
However, his “heroic” endeavor inspired him to defy Marx, who, according to the perception of Mr. Sarkar, indicated to Mr. Sarkar: “[N]o need for me [Mr. Sarkar] to interpret the world; that had already been done for us by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin et al.” So, he decided to “at least understand it.” A “great” finding by a college student! Any Marx-reader will feel pity with the “great understanding” of the famous Marx-statement by Mr. Sarkar. Or, there’ll be a silent smile on the lips of any Marx-reader after learning Mr. Sarkar’s interpretation of the Marx-statement. The reason is the “learned” interpretation – “no need for me [Mr. Sarkar] to interpret the world; that had already been done” – a mechanical approach by a juvenile mind!
It seems, according to Mr. Sarkar, all in the wagon Marx was riding ceased learning! With such a funny description began dissection of faults and flaws of this revolution and that revolutionary, that revolution and this revolutionary! It’s “not” bad as a style of an article on serious questions! However, the same approach broadly prevailed throughout the article: Fluffy statements based on faulty arguments.
Mr. Sarkar writes: “I knew I must read a lot, at least a lot of Marx, Engels and Lenin, a lot of history plus current affairs, and also a lot of modern Marxist literature on the social sciences.” A “great knowledge”! “None” before Mr. Sarkar knew this, and “none” before Mr. Sarkar read a lot!(?) Lenin and his comrades read “nothing as their leader” said “…” , as Mr. Sarkar realized from the famous Marx-statement.
Thus began the article presenting a lot of “great” findings. This takes away all the seriousness Mr. Sarkar tried to press into his “analysis”.
Mr. Sarkar realized: “For the average socialist/communist activist, however, it was the sheer volume of reading required for the purpose that posed the greatest difficulty.” Is this needed after the “massive” finding on learning by Mr. Sarkar? “No” disciple of Marx has read anything as Marx told: “…” [readers may recount Mr. Sarkar’s dilemma].
Another finding from Mr. Sarkar: “I could only become an activist, not a Marxologist.” Marxologists, Mr. Sarkar knows well, are in abundance in the mainstream academia. There’s, Mr. Sarkar should know, no problem if an activist is well-versed with Marx. Rather, it’s expected that all activists should be well-versed not only with Marx, but also with all, as far as possible, knowledge humankind has so far produced. Mr. Sarkar should check with suggestions Marx pressed his comrades: Read, read, read. Mr. Sarkar can easily check with this claim – read, … – in one of the reminiscences of comrades of Marx. He can also read again, it is expected that he has already gone through, Lenin’s and Kalinin’s suggestions to young Communist learners including one of Lenin’s famous lectures, not that much long, to members of the Young Communist League. If Mr. Sarkar likes to check further, he can check with Mao also on this issue. If he is not satisfied with these, he can check with other leaders/theoreticians in the company of Marx in countries beginning from the East to the West, be it Vietnam or Cuba, India or Ireland.
Therefore, it comes out: Mr. Sarkar has made a satirical move by recounting his student days while he jumped into the task of cursing socialism with the posture of formulating a theory.
Mr. Sarkar then gets engaged with his real business: Condemn all in the name of identifying flaws within practices of building up socialism in a number of countries.
Hence, he began with the Moscow Trial as it appeared to him that the trial was the sole activity of socialism in Soviet Russia. It’s an old story, one can say old wine, sold many, many times, and each time the story sellers skip related facts.
Instead of going into detail references it is suggested to Mr. Sarkar that he should re-check, it is expected that he has already gone through, with reports on the trial carried by world famous bourgeois newspapers of the time. The reports were dispatched by reporters attending the trial. There are also reports by diplomats from imperialist countries. The diplomats attended the courts holding the trials. These reports, a few of which mentioned behavior, blinking of eyes, expression in the faces of the accused persons, are available in libraries. If Mr. Sarkar fails or dislikes reading these reports, he can again go through a not-fat Baanglaa book by Moni Guha, a respected Marxist from Kolkata, on the Moscow Trial. If he likes, he can also re-read Grover Farr’s book on lies by Khrushchev. The book exposes the lies Khrushchev said in his “secret” speech. To make this response short, details are not presented here.
Mr. Sarkar got shock with de-Stalinization. What shall he do if it – de-Stalinization – takes a reverse course with unearthing of further facts in future? Shall he reverse his present position?
Thereafter, Mr. Sarkar took a turn: “I [Mr. Sarkar] began gradually distancing myself from the Soviet model of socialism.”
Mr. Sarkar’s perception was so “deep and wide” that a single revelation, full truth or half-truth or complete lie, pushed him to a distance from socialism. Is it the scientific approach to judge a system? Then, with the same approach, shall Mr. Sarkar go closer to capitalism? Why not? He will find, not one, but many “good and beautiful” moves that inspire one like Mr. Sarkar to love capitalism. Remember Mr. Sarkar the Watergate, let’s name it, incident instead of scandal or political thievery, which ultimately made Nixon a despised character. It exposed a part of capitalism’s politics, and it showed even a president isn’t “spared” in capitalism; so, Mr. Sarkar should “love” capitalism’s politics.
And, there are many such “good” examples in the lives of feudalism and capitalism from the days of their childhood. Is a single or a number of incident(s) enough to judge a system? Do only incidents determine necessity and character of a system or not? Where do lay the questions related to property, ownership, production, distribution, exploitation, political power, class? And, where does go the historical process, Mr. Sarkar? A nice method – distancing from a system on the basis of one or a number of incidents, trials – for formulating theory on socialism! Should anyone accept your method, Mr. Sarkar? And, as an argument it is asked that shall you go closer to socialism if it comes out tomorrow that a lot of information referred were fabricated? Actually, Mr. Sarkar, yours is the same style and way of interpretation – juvenile and fluffy. To analyze any social/economic/political system, a better intellectual capacity is required as social/economic/political issues are very complicated, and the complication increases many times when all these interact with each other, when all these carry many factors, and when all the factors being carried by these are constantly on the move. It happens in society, politics, transformation of society, and in social science. It’s a difficult exercise; and the exercise is not for any juvenile mind.
Mr. Sarkar amalgamated the crimes he mentioned with use of force in revolution. He cites Communist Manifesto: “forcible overthrow”. And, then he refers to Mahatma from India. These three, any school student will say, are of three types. Mahatma was preaching his philosophy in the context of India under the British colonial rule upholding certain class interests. Mahatma’s programs have been discussed more or less from a realistic angle by a number of his political colleagues in their books, which are not discussed here. Only a simple request: please, at least go through those books if not the entire gamut – Mahatma’s philosophy and program are dissected there. Mr. Sarkar should recollect that Mahatma once said that he was a communist; Mahatma once said that he supports Bolsheviks. How shall Mr. Sarkar interpret these statements? The interpretation is not a simple task of drawing a straight line. Mr. Sarkar should find out the meaning of revolution in society. Can he cite a single example of revolution without forcible overthrow of an old order? Has ever any old order voluntarily given way to an emerging political power anywhere?
The problem of Mr. Sarkar is with “forcible overthrow”. He should define “forcible overthrow” and “revolution”. He should not confuse “forcible overthrow” with “violence”. Even, “violence” carries different meanings in different contexts; violence can be carried out without seemingly violent act. The way capital interacts with life and nature is violence; but all the time blood doesn’t flow there instantly. What the bourgeoisie teach, Mr. Sarkar? Have not the class forcibly overthrown its predecessor ruling regime? Mr. Sarkar has to find out a new path if he dislikes the historical facts, the historical lessons and historical process. Does he dream that existing property relation will melt down as ice cream melts down in an oven? What does science of society tells Mr. Sarkar? And, he equates purges carried out in Russia with revolution. The first act was part of governance and inner-contradiction while the last act was an overthrow of an old regime. Is it logical to equate the two, Mr. Sarkar?
Because of de-Stalinization Mr. Sarkar’s interest, as the article says, in Marx and Marxism began to wane. De-Stalinization is one political act in a country in a certain circumstance by a regime and Marx and Marxism is a philosophy, an approach, a science, an economics, a politics, etc. for the exploited classes. These two are not the same. It seems Mr. Sarkar is not well-aware of either of the two although he boldly describes evolution of his ideas to narrate his neo-theory.
Mr. Sarkar writes in the article: “I thought, it could not be that just two thinkers of the second half of the 19th century, however brilliant they might have been, had thought through all the problems of mankind, even those that would arise many decades after their death.” Has Marx and his comrades ever marketed any commodity called “had thought through all the problems of mankind”? Mr. Sarkar, with an “illuminating” imagination, is moving far, far ahead of Marx and his comrades! Mr. Sarkar should again read Marx although he has already completed the task long ago. There are elements called “forgotten”, “mis-read”, “misunderstood”. Mr. Sarkar should keep these elements on his reading table while re-reading Marx. It’s unfair intellectual practice to impose some statement on someone’s lips which the person has not said. Nowhere Marx claimed that he sales a commodity branded as “thought through all the problems of mankind”. Marx and his comrades always search facts, connect and re-connect those, analyze, look at developments. Doesn’t their methodology show it?
Mr. Sarkar engages with a folly: He, as told in the article, “started taking an interest in other subjects and other thinkers too, e.g. in Malthusianism, and Keynesianism.” A “great leap backward”! From Marx to Malthusianism, and Keynesianism! What more to say? Just a tiny reference for Mr. Sarkar although he knows: Malthus has been cited by a great economist/theoretician as “that master in plagiarism”. It, Mr. Sarkar knows, has been shown by the famous theoretician with specific reference. The source of the information will be provided if Mr. Sarkar fails to recollect it.
On Malthus, following are a few findings by Marx:
“Malthus used the Andersonian theory of rent to give his population law, […] while the nonsense about geometrical and arithmetical progression borrowed from earlier writers was a purely imaginary hypothesis.”
“He [Malthus] was in fact plagiarist by […] profession.”
“[H]e [Malthus] was a professional sycophant of the landed aristocracy, whose rents, sinecures, squandering, heartlessness etc. he justified economically. Malthus defends the interests of the industrial bourgeoisie only in so far as these are identical with the interests of landed property, of the aristocracy, i.e., against the mass of the people, the proletariat. But where these interests diverge and are antagonistic to each other, he sides with the aristocracy against the bourgeoisie.”
“Utter baseness is a distinctive trait of Malthus – a baseness which can only be indulged in by a parson […] who sees human suffering as the punishment for sin and who, in any case, need a ‘vale of tears on earth’, but who, at the same time, in view of the living he draws and aided by the dogma of predestination, finds it altogether advantageous to ‘sweeten’ their sojourn in the vale of tears for the ruling classes.”
“But Malthus! This wretch only draws such conclusions from the given scientific premises (which he invariably steals), as will be ‘agreeable’ (useful) to the aristocracy against the bourgeoisie and to both against the proletariat. Hence he does not want production for the sake of production, but only in so far as it maintains or extends the status quo, and serves the interests of the ruling classes.
“Already his [Malthus] first work [An Essay on the Principle of Population …], one of the most remarkable literary examples of the success of plagiarism at the cost of the original work, had the practical purpose to provide ‘economic’ proof, in the interests of the existing English government and the landed aristocracy, that the tendency of the French Revolution and its adherents in Englandto perfect matters was utopian. In other words, it was a panegyric pamphlet for the existing conditions, against historical development and, furthermore, a justification of the war against revolutionary France.”
“The parson Malthus […] reduces the worker to a beast of burden for the sake of production and even condemns him to death from starvation and to celibacy.”
“Malthus […] seeks, as far as he can, to sacrifice the demands of production to the particular interests of the existing ruling classes or sections of classes. And to this end he falsifies his scientific conclusions. This is his scientific baseness, his sin against science, quite apart from his shameless and mechanical plagiarism. The scientific conclusions of Malthus are ‘considerate’ towards the ruling classes in general and towards the reactionary elements of the ruling classes in particular; in other words, he falsifies science for these interests. But his conclusions are ruthless as far as they concern the subjugated classes. He is not only ruthless; he affects ruthlessness; he takes a cynical pleasure in it and exaggerates his conclusions in so far as they are directed against the poor wretches, even beyond the point which would be scientifically justified from his own point of view.
“The hatred of the English working classes for Malthus […] was thus fully justified and the people’s instinct was correct here, in that they felt he was no man of science, but a bought advocate of their opponents, a shameless sycophant of the ruling classes.” (Theories of Surplus Value, part II, Progress Publishers, Moscow, erstwhile USSR, 1975, ital. in the original)
Now, let Mr. Sarkar learn from Malthus as Malthus claims: The main cause of poverty, etc. is in “the constant tendency in all animated life to increase beyond the nourishment prepared for it.” (An Essay on the Principle of Population: or A View of Its Past and Present Effects on Human Happiness, vol. I)
In the next volume of the book, Malthus goes further as he writes: “[T]he principal and most permanent cause of poverty has little or no direct relation to forms of government, or the unequal division of property; and that, as the rich do not in reality possess the power of finding employment and maintenance for the poor, the poor cannot, in the nature of things, possess the right to demand them.”
Mr. Sarkar should be happy with his distancing from Marx as Mr. Sarkar will find new sources of poverty shown by Malthus.
And, regarding Keynesianism, a citation from Sweezy: “The Keynesians tear the economic system out of its social context and treat it as though it were a machine to be sent to the repair shop there to be overhauled by an engineer state.” (The Theory of Capitalist Development, Monthly Review Press, New York, 1964)
How Mr. Sarkar likes to resolve the problems of commerce and war with Malthusianism and Keynesianism when Benjamin Franklin says: “war is robbery, commerce is generally cheating”? (cited in Marx, Capital, vol. I) Do the two – Malthusianism and Keynesianism – solve problems of robbery and cheating by the exploiters? Do the two solve problems of exploitation? Do the two identify source of war, and solve problem of war organized by the exploiters? And, what about the class war the exploiters carry on against the exploited classes, Mr. Sarkar? Do the two address the problem?
And, Keynes “found” behind economic crises lurk “psychological factors” and “proclivity of underconsumption”. (The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money) How do you, Mr. Sarkar, interpret these? How shall Mr. Sarkar analyze the Great Financial Crisis, the globalized monopoly, and imperialism with the aid of Keynes?
Armed with Malthusianism, and Keynesianism Mr. Sarkar, then, enters “Failure of the Russian and the Chinese Revolution”, and delivers his verdict, and raises questions on those two revolutions, and makes suggestions: “In the long run both revolutions failed…. Can their failures be put down to flaws in the ideology called Marxism?…. But before that come the questions (1) whether the vision of socialism that the Soviet Russians and the Chinese, the Cubans and the Vietnamese tried to realize – and thereby failed – was really the Marxist one, and (2) whether it was at all realizable.”
What’s the yardstick of evaluating success and failure of revolution, Mr. Sarkar? Do the two “failures”, if his “bold” claim, shrewdly presented as a question, referred reflect Marxism? What’s revolution and what’s Marxism, Mr. Sarkar? Is revolution the only yardstick of Marxism? How many times the bourgeoisie had to organize their revolutions, Mr. Sarkar? After their first- and second-time failures was it logical to say all bourgeois ideas put against feudalism a failure? Have the bourgeoisie succeeded till today? Then, how do you keep trust on their ideas and philosophy? You are not questioning their failures after so many revolutions organized by them, after their so many failures in so many countries through so many centuries. Real meaning of Mr. Sarkar’s claim is understood: Serve capitalism, an obligation of a faithful servant.
Is revolution an one-stroke job, Mr. Sarkar? Does revolution consist of a single task? Is not it logical to say revolution “R” succeeded in areas “A1”, “A2”, “A3”, …, and failed in areas “F1”, “F2”, “F3”, …, there were set backs in areas “S1”, “S2”, …? And, is not it logical to say Marxism doesn’t only consist of revolutions “R1” and “R2”? The arguments include: Marxism provides, to put it briefly, a way to look at/to understand/to dissect the world around, the classes and class struggles, consequences of class struggles, the prevailing system, history, economy, politics, nature, etc. The arguments on Marxism can continue with elaboration, which are not presented here. Mr. Sarkar should again go through his lessons on revolution and Marxism so that he can define those properly as a proper identification is needed before throwing something out. Why not Mr. Sarkar see revolution dialectically, why not as part of a historical process, why not as part of class struggle, why not as a long struggle through historical phases? He will find a correct answer if he takes the approach.
Mr. Sarkar suggests seeking “an answer” for practical purpose, so that further mistakes can be avoided, so that no wrong goal or wrong path is pursued. A noble urge/purpose, no doubt. To avoid further mistakes, a proper understanding of the revolutions and the theories – Marxism – cited is required. Even, the proper understanding is required if Mr. Sarkar likes to quash those. And, first of all, information and data are required. It’s a scientific job, which no novice can deliver.
On Marxian and Marxist Mr. Sarkar writes: “There are some disputes regarding the content of Marxism.” Yes, what’s the problem with disputes? Theories related to society will experience dispute. Isn’t it normal, Mr. Sarkar? Shouldn’t disputes be encouraged so that new findings can crop up from the disputes?
Mr. Sarkar clings to words – “Marxian and Marxist”, plays word game, and refers to the much cited Marx-quote (“I’m not …”) while misses the context and the essence. The word play leads him to say: “Marxian would mean: strictly based on what Marx himself has written. And Marxist would mean: based on Marxian thoughts as developed and presented by Engels, Lenin and later theoretician-adherents of Marx.” So, according to Mr. Sarkar’s definitions of the two words, Lenin and his Bolshevik comrades didn’t “strictly based on what Marx himself has written”, they “went” loose. Mr. Sarkar should again go through the works of Lenin, should again look at the political and theoretical fights Lenin conducted, should again search the reasons Lenin had to carry on those fights. For Mr. Sarkar’s information: Lenin had to continue with a number of his theoretical and political struggles to uphold Marx. It’s dishonesty to misinterpret any person’s theoretical/political position, and to hide information, Mr. Sarkar.
Mr. Sarkar refers to “Marx-scholars” finding “inner contradictions and errors” “in the works of Marx himself”. No wonder, Mr. Sarkar. Marx, at least, is human, not demon, the picture a group of “Marx”-scholars depict. Isn’t it Mr. Sarkar? Mr. Sarkar should thank Marx that Marx operates within a reality where to err is always a possibility, and Marx doesn’t stay/fly away from contradictions. But, Mr. Sarkar should not turn joyful with this comment. He bears the moral and intellectual responsibility, the responsibility any honest person/intellectual/
For information of Mr. Sarkar: Revered Professor Paresh Chattopadhyay is always clinging to words while failing to perceive reality, Marx’s analysis, and application of Marx’s theories within an existing reality. The professor does never look at the realities class struggle create in a country in a situation: Russia/Cuba/China/elsewhere. Isn’t it better for Professor Chattopadhyay to present facts where Lenin and Fidel “deviated” from Marx before he quashes Lenin, Fidel, and the Russian and Cuban revolutions, and he can do it by clinging to Marx-words. Has he presented any alternative idea/path to the revolutions Lenin and Fidel led? Nothing? A regular and old practice of armchair theoreticians memorizing only words and denying learning from reality.
What ought to be done immediately after seizing power in Russia in October 1917 to (1) arrange food for the population facing famine while grain hoarders were super-active? (2) face the counter-revolutionaries carrying on military campaign? (3) face espionage, sabotage and assassination? Any concrete suggestion from Mr. Sarkar or Professor Chattopadhyay? “Self-emancipation”, “establishment of a ‘union of free individuals’”, and wait for those taking shape, and allow the Tsarists/bourgeoisie to reconquer power? What ought to be done with the rights of the working people while the Constituent Assembly was denying approval to the decrees on land, rights, etc. declared by the Soviet? Any concrete suggestion from Mr. Sarkar or Professor Chattopadhyay? “Self-emancipation”, “establishment of a ‘union of free individuals’”, and wait for those taking shape, and allow the Tsarists/bourgeoisie to reconquer power? What Fidel and his comrades ought to do while the Bay of Pigs-invasion was on-going? Any concrete suggestion from Mr. Sarkar or Professor Chattopadhyay? “Self-emancipation”, “establishment of a ‘union of free individuals’”, and wait for those taking shape, and allow the imperialist to reconquer power? In Vietnam, what Uncle Ho ought to do while the imperialists were waging war against the people? “Self-emancipation”, “establishment of a ‘union of free individuals’”, and wait for those taking shape, and allow the imperialist to reconquer power? Any other concrete suggestion from Mr. Sarkar or Professor Chattopadhyay? What Fidel and his comrades could do while their country, the revolution was facing strangulation, was facing a “special period”? “Self-emancipation”, “establishment of a ‘union of free individuals’”, and wait for those taking shape, and allow the imperialist to reconquer power? There are thousands of similar questions. It’s hoped that Mr. Sarkar and Professor Chattopadhyay will suggest specific steps on specific problems/situations. It’s an open challenge to them.
Mr. Sarkar refers to Professor Chattopadhyay on the issue of vanguard. How shall a social process be carried forward without a vanguard? How shall class war be carried forward without a vanguard? Doesn’t even flock of rams and lambs need a vanguard from among them while the animals roam around? And, here, the issues are society, contradiction-filled society, transforming contradiction-filled society, classes, contending classes, confronting and defeating hostile classes with enormous power and long experience. Do the learned theoreticians prefer chaos, indiscipline and an ensured failure of the exploited classes while the classes get organized, carry on political fight, organize a new economy and politics? What have other classes done in their political fights? Were those carried without their vanguards? Were not there theoreticians, organizers, leaders in those class fights by those classes? Imagine realistically if you, the two theoreticians, dislike to think about class war. How program/slogans/steps in areas of politics, mobilization, finance, banking, diplomacy, legislature, judiciary, media and all areas related to life would be planned and implemented? Even, think about your so-called green politics. Please, think about a peaceful demonstration. Are not there vanguards in those cases, beginning from planning to marching? Isn’t there any central committee/leadership in your Green Party, Mr. Sarkar? Isn’t there any leading committee/council in the university Professor Chattopadhyay stays in? Is not there any committee/council for reviewing theses in that university, planning study, planning construction and maintaining infrastructure, etc. jobs? How running of legislative assemblies are done, Mr. Sarkar? How cabinets function? How generals plan war, Mr. Sarkar? How banks plan their operations? How finance-gamblers carry on their financial gambling? No vanguard nowhere? Please, ask the professor to describe those mechanisms. How a plan on a major river would be formulated while a part of people in a part of India demands withdrawal of water from the river while another group of people in another part demands no-withdrawal? What could be done while a group of corn growers likes to export surplus amount of their produce while another group of people in another region desperately needs that produce as they lost their crop due to draught? There are thousands of questions/problems that raise heads during political struggle and socio-economic-political life. How those would be resolved? What political position will be taken by the representatives of peoples elected to a bougeois parliament if there is no vanguard, the group proposing/suggesting certain position? Do you suggest a chaotic path, an “enlightened” path to defeat? Think about a military campaign. Consider a scientific experiment by a team of scientists. Is not there any need of any leader? Do the bourgeoisie operate without their vanguard? Can you, the theoreticians, show a single example beginning from community level to the levels of banking, finance, war, imperialist expeditions without vanguard? Are not you suggesting following a path of defeat, a suggestion of treachery?
Mr. Sarkar proclaims: “I trust Chattopadhyay’s scholarship.” It’s your choice, Mr. Sarkar. It’s anybody’s choice. But, it should be kept in mind that in political struggle, there’s no place for theoreticians clinging to words, whether it’s Professor Chattopadhyay or someone else, to suggest anything isolated from reality. Does Professor Chattopadhyay suggest going closer to Malthus and Keynes?
Mr. Sarkar, you really dwell in a world of words. Nothing else is found in reply to the way you define leadership, coming from other classes. Then, on the basis of Mr. Sarkar’s/Professor Chattopadhyay’s definition of leadership these scholars should (1) denounce leadership of the Paris Commune and (2) throw out Marx and Engels and many of their comrades as they came from rich/industrialist/middle class/non-poor/non-industrial working class/rich and petty rich peasant families. And, then, these scholars should embrace (1) Hitler as he came from a non-industrialist family; (2) should consider the Nazi Party as a true socialist party as Hitler with a near-pauper background was sitting on the top of the party; (3) a part of leadership of the Indian National Congress and the extreme rightist political party in India as that part comes from non-rich/poor/humble families; (4) a part of the leadership of the bourgeois political parties in capitalist countries including the UK and the USA as that part comes from non-rich/poor/humble families. Isn’t it Mr. Sarkar? Fidel comes from a rich peasant family. So, I imagine, Mr. Sarkar and Professor Chattopadhyay are going to denounce Fidel as Fidel “doesn’t” represent the exploited classes. This debate should not be continued with this level of definition and perception. With this level of perception debates on the issues are impossible to carry on. “Defend” that part of leadership of the bourgeois/imperialist/
Otherwise Mr. Sarkar, you have to write as you have written without identifying definitely: “But it also shows how wrong, how unrealistic, and how utopian in the negative sense Marx has been. For hardly any revolution that has been called proletarian, socialist, or people’s revolution, successful or not, could do without a leadership, most members of which usually came from classes other than the proletariat. Even the leadership of the Paris Commune of 1871, as far as I have learnt, did not come exclusively from the working class.” It’s a “great finding, Mr. Sarkar. Re-write the history of the Paris Commune, we’ll learn from you.
Oh ho, now, you are telling: “I am of course saying these things without great knowledge of history.” Thanks, Mr. Sarkar, for your confession. None should attempt to formulate theory on revolution, society, etc. “without great knowledge of history”.
Aa haa, now, Mr. Sarkar comes to senses as it’s found in the article: “Also for building a “socialist” society after a successful takeover of power, as, for example, in Russia after 1917 and in Yugoslavia after 1945, a strong leadership proved to be indispensable.” Yes, Mr. Sarkar now feels the need for “a strong leadership”. What’s “strong” and what’s “leadership”, Mr. Sarkar? How do you define “strong”, Mr. Sarkar? What’s the difference between leadership and vanguard, Mr. Sarkar? It’ll be stupidity to continue the debate further as arguments already presented is enough to cancel Mr. Sarkar’s theory, statement, analysis if those are really theory, etc.
Mr. Sarkar now tries to differentiate Lenin from Marx. It’s a funny effort, Mr. Sarkar. One of the theoretical struggles carried by Lenin was to stand with Marx, not a milimeter away from Marx. So, it appears Mr. Sarkar tries to define Marx and Lenin without understanding them.
Uh ho, Mr. Sarkar again enters with a half-baked bread as he writes: “For Lenin, Tito, Mao, and Ho-Chi-Min, and later also for Fidel and Che, the primary, immediate, and urgent task had been to overthrow the hated oppressive regimes of their respective countries”. Why that – overthrow the hated oppressive regimes – was the immediate and urgent task to the Lenin and his comrades? Had they no other job? Why it was they and why not others, Mr. Sarkar. Please, find out the answers to the questions. Many of your problems/misunderstandings will be resolved, and there will be no more mis-digestion of history, theory and Marx.
Mr. Sarkar again misunderstands as he writes: “After fulfilling this immediate task, Lenin, Tito, Mao, and Ho, being communists, could not but try to build a socialist society on the ground and in the situation they found given. They could not have postponed this work in order to do it in the pure way as prescribed by Marx”. Why the Lenin and his comrades felt compelled to “try to build a socialist society”? Find out, Mr. Sarkar, the answer, which will solve a lot of your problems with theory you are trying to deal with. You are missing some points/explanations/logic. Anybody including Mr. Sarkar should know fully the theory the person is going to accept to reject; it doesn’t matter whether the theory is science or non-science.
There is no scope for further discussion after the way Mr. Sarkar explains “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.” Discussions on the issue raised by Mr. Sarkar should not descend to that level.
Mr. Sarkar writes: “Also the sentence ‘The working men have no country’ was nothing more than an assertion in high-flown words. How far-fetched, how unrealistic and hollow all these words were, was demonstrated just 31 years after Marx’s death, when, in the 1st World War, the working men of the advanced industrialized countries of Europe not only did not prevent the war, but also, obeying their heads of state, readily went to the front to fulfill their patriotic duty, namely to kill the working men of their respective enemy countries.” I repeat: Discussions on the issue raised by Mr. Sarkar should not descend to that level. Mr. Sarkar, you’ll find millions of such “examples” of “the working men … kill the working men” as your level of perception of the issue inspires you to compare “brain” of a stone to brain of a human. You can begin finding this from India, the country you hail from. Then, go the Germany, your second home. In both the places, you’ll find this. In this response, there are two ways to answer Mr. Sarkar’s analysis: either begin a long discussion or think over the “stone-brain” argument. Here, the latter is followed.
The border disputes were not fought because of “human nature”, Mr. Sarkar. Now, Mr. Sarkar admits: “Only Lenin may have been aware of this serious problem”. Which one of your arguments is to be accepted, Mr. Sarkar?
Great, Mr. Sarkar, for your all encompassing knowledge as you write: “in all countries, on the 1st May … socialists, communists, leftists mindlessly shouting vacuous slogans like ‘workers of all countries unite’, ‘long live international solidarity’.” You are really a knowledgable and powerful theoretician, Mr. Sarkar! Otherwise how do you disregard and brush out the way the proletariat stood for international solidarity, etc. in countries on many occassions? There are thousands of examples; please, go through history already available. Collect some information, Mr. Sarkar. And, at the same time, you have to conduct a cross-country KAP study on the working people participating in May Day observations. However, you will face some problems while conducting the proposed KAP study as the study will provide you data from the year will be covering. For rest of the data needed to support your claim you have to find out data from other sources.
Aa haa, Mr. Sarkar, your theory and analysis is going to the level of sneseless as you write: “I think some people make a revolution – let us modestly say they just revolt …”. What do you mean by “some people”? What do you mean by “some”? Is it “handful”? Please, define “some” and “people”. Then, it will be easier to answer to your “finding”. Revolutions are not made by “some people”, Mr. Sarkar. And, revolution and revolt are not the same, Mr. Sarkar. You are really messing up a lot of ideas conceived by you in an ill way.
This is again reflected by your following statement: “Some of them – like Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky etc. – are cool, intellectual and analytical types, others, such as Mao, Fidel and Che, are more like daredevils.” How do you define “cool, intellectual and analytical types”, and “daredevils”, Mr. Sarkar? Now, it seems, you have submerged yourself in a pit of childish knowledge. Is it possible for daredevils to lead a revolution in a country like China or Cuba if the person is not, what you say, “cool, intellectual and analytical types”, and is it possible for persons of “cool, intellectual and analytical types” to challenge capital, to throw away tsardom if the persons are not, what you say, “daredevils”? Please, have some cool mind, Mr. Sarkar, while you deal with these issues if you don’t like writing childish analysis.
Here’s Mr. Sarkar’s “great finding”: “They revolt irrespective of whether the time is ripe or not, irrespective of whether the proletariat has understood its world-historic mission or not, irrespective of whether the proletariat joins the revolt or remains aloof.” The only answer that can be presented in this response to this claim is: Please, again go through the arguments Lenin and his comrades presented in respective cases as they had to deal with this question from their opponents. Neither Lenin nor anybody in the initiatives is such a big general and adventurer that it was possible for the proletariats to seize power in Russia if the situation was not ripe. Forget a country, Mr. Sarkar. Come to the party you are involved with. Is it possible either by you or by anyone to seize leadership at any level, be it central or local, if the situation is not ripe? Is it possible for anybody or you to seize leadership of a local council or leadership of a community-based club if situation is not ripe? Please, consider ceasing meaningless sounds.
Seizing political power is not possible if the situation is not ripe. Even, organizing southern hemisphere style-capitalist coup d’état is not possible in any unripe situation. You can check it with any general involved with such adventures. Or, you can go through books on the issue.
Mr. Sarkar, you find: proletariat remained aloof in Russia! Please, make sensible comments, Mr. Sarkar. Was it possible to successfully defeat the counter-revolutionaries during the civil war that the bourgeoisie and the imperialist powers organized agaist Soviet Russia if the proletariat was aloof? Can you run your family home if your family members are aloof, Mr. Sarkar? Can you organize a community level meeting of your Green Party if the community members are aloof, Mr. Sarkar? Was it possible for Lenin and his comrades, the way you like to depict them, to organize all activities to consolidate political power if the proletariat was aloof there, Mr. Sarkar?
You are wrong, Mr. Sarkar, as you write: “Mao led a communist revolution in an agrarian society”. Mao never led a“communist” revolution, Mr. Sarkar. Please, check with Mao; please check with all of his works. Neither Mao nor anybody in the political party Mao led claimed this: Lead a communist revolution. The problem with you, Mr. Sarkar, is: You have to re-read A, B, C of the revolutions you are referring to. You are making a lot of comments either without any knowledge about those revolutions or by by-passing elementary facts of those revolutions. The first effort is a foolish exercise while the last effort is dishonesty. You have to know, Mr. Sarkar, what’s (1) communist revolution, (2) socialist revolution, (3) new democratic revolution, and (4) the China-context.
Mr. Sarkar, you are making erroneous analysis regarding the developments in Germany and England. The developments in these countries are not so simple and straight as you describe. To understand the developments you are referring to, you have to look at, among others, in brief, the dominant capital in the countries you have referred to. To understand the issues referred by you in these countries, you also have to look into, in brief, condition/state/level of class struggle. There’s no scope to look at the issues in a simple, straight way, the approach you have followed.
Thanks, Mr. Sarkar, for your confession: “As regards Marxian/Marxist theory, it is a bit difficult for me to answer the question put above, because I have read only some, not all, of the works of Marx and Engels. Much of my knowledge of their theory is based on reading secondary literature ….” Carry on the study diligently Mr. Sarkar; and along with these, study works by John Bellamy Foster. He has already discussed issues of ecology, capitalism and Marx in a helpful way. These will help perceive Marx, Mr. Sarkar, which will relieve Mr. Sarkar from the burden of blaming Marx.
Now, Mr. Sarkar sounds logical as he writes, “without a good leadership overthrow of any capitalist, feudal, colonial or any other sort of oppressive-exploitative regime would not have been possible.” Shall Mr. Sarkar consider the statements he made earlier in his article? He talked about vanguard, etc.
Further discussion on Mr. Sarkar’s article is not required after finding so many inconsistencies, childish percerceptions and mechanical interpretations in it. Further discussion on the article will be nothing but wastage of energy, which no human being will prefer to do.
Farooque Chowdhury writes from Dhaka.