SOME URGENT PROBLEMS OF THE
LABOUR MOVEMENT IN INDIA.
Modern Books Ltd.
53, GRAYS INN RD.
London, W. C.
Printed in Great Britain
Western Printing Services Ltd., (T.U.) A
- INTRODUCTION 2
- THE BRITISH POLICY OF INDIA’S “INDUSTRIALIZATION” 4
- INDEPENDENCE OR THE RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION 6
- THE NATIONAL CONGRESS AND THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY 9
- THE STRUGGLE OF ROY’S GROUP AGAINST THE HEGEMONY OF THE WORKING CLASS
(a) THE WORKING CLASS — ACCORDING TO ROY 14
(b) ROY ADVISES THE WORKING CLASS TO FIGHT FOR SMALL DEMANDS ONLY 15T
6. THE INDIAN BOURGEOISIE IN THE ESTIMATION OF ROY 18
7. A NATIONAL BOURGEOIS PARTY INSTEAD OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY 21
- ROY’S BOURGEOIS PROGRAMME 24
- PEASANT DEMANDS 27
- THE REACTIONARY BLOC WITH SHIVA RAO AND GIRI
AGAINST THE WORKING CLASS 28
- THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE C.P. AND MR. ROY 34
- ADDENDUM 37 44
The development of the class struggle in India is accompanied by an ever-growing differentiation in the national movement, by the separation of the forces of the revolution from those of reformism.
On the one hand the working class is speedily developing into an independent class force, the Communist Party is being formed and the class consciousness of the working masses rapidly grows. On the other the activities of the National Congress, which reveal its anti-revolutionary and bourgeois character clearly, are repelling great masses of the working class, of the petty bourgeoisie and of the toilers of the city and village, thus accelerating the process of dispelling national-reformist illusions.
The discontent among a section of the intelligentsia, particularly that which is connected with the Indian industrial bourgeoisie, has increased. This intelligentsia, which reflects the interests of the capitalist development of India and its antagonism to imperialism and feudalism better than the National Congress leadership, has nevertheless proved incapable of leading a determined and a consistent struggle for independence, and a complete destruction of feudal remnants. Being connected with the bourgeoisie, this intelligentsia displayed the same counter-revolutionary features as the Indian bourgeoisie. Despite its “radical” and even quasi-Marxian phraseology and slogans, it actually revealed itself to be an agency of the bourgeoisie (and of the bourgeois National Congress) in the ranks of the revolutionary movement. It showed itself to be an enemy of proletarian socialism. To this section of the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia (and upper layer of the petty-bourgeoisie), serving as a direct agency of the bourgeoisie in the revolutionary movement, belongs the Roy-Chitnis-V.N. Joshi-Bradjeshi Sing-Kandalkar group which is now beginning to develop considerable activities.
Roy’s treachery was not accidental, neither was the expulsion of Jawaharlal Nehru from the Anti-Imperialist League.
The development of the revolutionary movement in the most important countries of the East has been accompanied in recent years by a growing intensification of the class struggle and the turn of the national bourgeoisie to the camp of the counter-revolution, to crush the revolutionary uprising of the working and peasant masses against the imperialist and feudal system of exploitation.
China’s experience has clearly illustrated this development. The Indian experience also confirms it. The treachery of the Kuomintang had a direct influence upon the Indian bourgeoisie, or, to be more exact, the revolt of the Chinese working and peasant masses (which showed where the Chinese revolution leads to and therefore frightened the Chinese bourgeoisie) has terrorized the Indian exploiters as well.
Small wonder that Jawaharlal who calls himself a socialist-communist, etc., etc., declared after the first wave of the Chinese revolution: “With all my sympathy for the Communist point of view, however, I must confess that I do not appreciate many of their methods. The history of these past few years in China and elsewhere has shown these methods have failed and often brought reaction in their train.” (Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru — Speeches and Writings — pp. 159 — from Nehru’s speech at the Trade Union Congress at Nagpur, 1929). These objections of Nehru and Roy to the communist methods mean merely that, while playing lip service to communism, in reality they fight for capitalism, for the interests of the bourgeoisie, for reformism. Their talk about communism merely serves to cover their anti-revolutionary activity.
The sharpening of the class struggle clearly and sharply raised the questions of the hegemony of the Indian proletariat under the leadership of the Communist Party; of the connection between the revolutionary struggle of the Indian toiling masses with the struggle of the world proletariat for the destruction of capitalism; of the struggle of the toiling masses for independence, land and bread, for destruction of all medieval remnants, not with the co-operation — but, on the contrary, against the treacherous bourgeoisie — thus clearing the road for the fight for socialism. Thus it was no accident that Roy and his like were forced to reveal their national reformist character and desert to the camp of the enemies of the Comintern, to the camp of the disorganizers of the Indian and international revolution.
The Roy-Chitnis-V.N. Joshi-Dange-Kandalkar and Co. group have recently issued a series of statements embodying their platform, forming a theoretical base for their treacherous anti-revolutionary activity.
THE BRITISH POLICY OF INDIA’S “INDUSTRIALIZATION.”
Roy, in his book “India in Transition” maintained that British imperialism has completely destroyed feudalism in India.
Later he supplemented this statement with the idea that British imperialism was forced to adopt the policy of industrializing India. “The cardinal demands of the nationalist bourgeoisie,” says Roy, in his book The Future of Indian Politics “are Impetus to the industrialization of the country: fiscal autonomy; protection. All these have been realized, incidentally, in consequence of the attempts of British capitalism to overcome the serious post-war crisis by means of readjustment of the economic basis of the Empire” (pp. 44). He reaffirmed this view in the magazine People (1931, p. 301) in an article signed Vidyarthi: “In practice, protectionism is already in force. Imperialism is driven to it by its own contradictions.”
Independent India, the organ of Roy’s group, in an editorial on October 6, 1931, goes even further:
“Roy has conclusively proved that the Indian bourgeoisie would under no circumstances be revolutionary as the scheme of imperialism fully provided more or less full development of their economic and political aspiration.”
Thus the conclusion is as follows: British imperialism not only promotes the development of the productive forces of the country and is thus a progressive factor, but has even created the conditions for the peaceful victory of the Indian bourgeoisie. For after all, is not the dream of the Indian bourgeoisie “the full development of their economic and political aspirations,” i.e., to capture positions of dominance in the country. Thus Roy and Co. laid an economic foundation for the policy of compromises, agreements and betrayal of the revolution carried on by the Indian bourgeoisie, and its political organ, the National Congress. For if it is true, as Mr. Roy maintains, that British imperialism voluntarily concedes and creates the conditions for the rapid capitalist development of India and does not interfere with the development of the productive forces of the country, then the freedom of the enslaved of India need not necessarily be achieved by revolution. The position of Roy’s groups leads precisely to this, to a rejection of the revolution, to support the bourgeois National Congress, to the defence of the policy of collaboration with the imperialists. This is confirmed by its actions and no professions of faith and fidelity to the revolutionary emancipation movement can help them conceal their reformist clues.
“With all the power of the State in its hands, controlling the main branches of industry, railways, sea and river transport, banks and the credit system, the greater part of the land, forests and the irrigation system, British imperialism has retarded and still obstructs the economic development of our country in every way, supporting and relying upon all that is backward and reactionary in town and country. ” (From the platform of the Communist Party of India).
The development of India’s industry is accompanied by a ceaseless struggle against the determined resistance of British imperialism.
The boycott movement of 1907, the war, the post-war revolutionary upsurge of the boycott of 1919-22, the further rise of the movement and the boycott of 1930-31, all hastened the development of Indian capitalism. Indian capitalism, taking advantage of the struggle of the masses, secured certain concessions from imperialism and captured certain positions. While all the features of the policy of British imperialism (the support of the feudal remnants of the anti-national tariffs, at the present time in the form of preferential tariffs, the financial and banking system, the railway freight rates and the sea routes, the taxes and government stores, the budget, etc., etc.) aim at frustrating and interfering with the independent economic development of India and keeping it an agrarian appendage of Great Britain.
The changes which sometimes take place in the form of robbery, and the granting of small concessions, do not change the essence of the policy of British imperialism — the retardation of the development of the productive forces of India.
The treacherous role of the Indian bourgeoisie lies precisely in that, being connected with the feudal landlords and usurers and fearing a national revolution, it pursues a policy of agreements and compromises with imperialism and thus retards and stands in the way of the development of the productive forces of the country. Thus it facilitates the maintenance of the rule of the imperialists, and everything backward, savage and slavish still surviving in the social system of the country which, coupled with imperialism, is responsible for the destitution, poverty and slavery under which the Indian people live.
The contradiction between colonial India and imperialist Great Britain can only be eliminated by means of a revolution, and the destruction of the rule of imperialism. It is not at all accidental therefore that the fundamental pragmatic demands of the Roy group, with which we deal below, do not contain a demand for the confiscation of the undertakings belonging to the British imperialists. This is because Roy’s adherents have not relinquished their hope of a peaceful solution of the conflict and the establishment of “respectable bourgeois co-operation with British Imperialism.”
INDEPENDENCE OR THE RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION.
The reformist nature of Mr. Roy’s policy can be discovered in all his books including the first one India in Transition. Among many wrong ideas expressed by him in this book, the one: which refers to the Tilak movement of 1903-07 is particularly significant. At this time struggle was going on between two schools of the national movement. One — of Ranade and Gokhale, the other of Tilak. The essential point which we raise here is — that the Ranade school favoured compromise with British imperialism and rejected the revolutionary mass struggle for independence. While the Tilak group stood, at this time, for revolutionary struggle for the independence of India. Mr. Roy proved his reformist attitude, when, using pseudo-marxian phrases he attacked Tilak — saying it was a reactionary movement and supporting Ranade and Gokhale. For him the Tilak movement “fundamentally embodied the revolt of the spirit of orthodoxy and conservatism against the social radicalism of the prominent Congress leaders, particularly of Ranade in Bombay and Telang in Madras” (Roy India in Transition p. 189) … “Tilak, whose success would entail a political retrogression to a monarchical state and the re-inforcement of social and religious conservatism” (ibid. p. 176).
Mr. Roy came forward against the Tilak political groups, which in spite of certain religious proclivities, carried on revolutionary struggle against British imperialism, and stood for the free development of the productive forces of India. Mr. Roy supported the forces of compromise and surrender. The later events proved that this was not accidental. That is the essence of his present position, in spite of his pseudo marxism.
Roy’s followers have set up a”Committee of Action for Independence.” In the present circumstances in India any group seeking to extend its influence over the toilers avows its devotion to India’s independence. This is professed by Nehru, Bose, Patel and even Gandhi. Therefore, it is absolutely indispensable to test in actual practice how each group is prepared to fight honestly, consistently and resolutely for India’s independence. And from this point of view, it is doubly curious that the “Committee of Action for Independence” and the “Committee for the Organization of a Revolutionary Party of the Indian Working Class” (which are essentially identical organizations, both consisting of Roy’s followers) neither put forward in their basic slogans nor in their propaganda the demand for the complete independence of India as a state. Instead, these committees have advanced the demand for the “Right to self-determination.” The Roy group has the impudence to try to deceive the masses with the name of its committee but essentially, the group supports the position of the British Independent Labour Party to which a number of its leading members belonged (Chitnis and others) while some of them probably are still members. An appeal of the “Committee for the Organization of a Revolutionary Party of the Indian Working Class” (July, 1932) published in the Masses (page 15) says: “The Constituent Assembly as the sole authority and organized will of the oppressed masses shall be in a position to assert the right to self-determination.” At the same time on page 14 of the same magazine, among the seven fundamental principles of their “organic law” published by them, Roy’s followers “forgot” to mention one point, namely complete national independence. The same took place in the “appeal to the students” (July, 1932) urging the raising of a Roy defence fund, which was published in the People on August 1931, and all the utterances of the adherents of this group.
This is not accidental. It arises out of Roy’s estimation of the general economic development of the country and of the economic policy of British Imperialism. It corresponds to the position of the petty bourgeois sections connected with the Indian bourgeoisie. The “radical” phraseology of Roy’s group and its more “determined” demands than those of the National Congress, reflect the interests of the advanced elements of the industrial bourgeoisie, interested in the development of the home market, but fearing the revolutionary, radical reconstruction of the existing system and opposed to the abolition of the landlord system. This also determines the position of the said group towards the National Congress. While not essentially differing from the National Congress it merely raises the question of changing, renovating, rejuvenating the old leadership, and blurs the bourgeois-class character of the National Congress.
The anti-revolutionary position of Roy’s followers, who have replaced the demand for independence by the demand for the “right to self-determination” and who are in fact in favour of the maintenance of the British business enterprises, is in direct conflict with the position of the Communist Party of India, which in its draft platform of action, among the four basic slogans, advanced as the first the following: “The complete independence of India by the overthrow of British Rule. The cancellation of all debts. The confiscation and nationalization of all British factories, banks, railways, sea and river transport and plantations.” (Platform of Action of the Communist Party of India.)
The demand of the Communist Party of India expresses the interests of the Indian people, for the emancipation of the toiling masses is impossible without the establishment of an independent state and the abolition of the commanding economic positions of the British imperialists.
THE NATIONAL CONGRESS AND THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY.
Roy replaces the struggle for independence by agitation for the “right to self-determination” and puts forward the Constituent Assembly as the main route to achieve it.
The question of the Constituent Assembly has its history. In 1930 Roy and his followers (in the declaration of June 8, 1930, published in Berlin and republished in India; in the appeal of Shaik, Kabadi and Bradjeshi Sing in the magazine Vanguard published in Bombay, etc.) maintained that:
“The central political slogan of the Indian revolution should be the election of a Constituent Assembly, as against the Round Table Conference, on one hand, and against the Utopia of a Soviet Republic, on the other . . . “
And further, describing how the idea of the Constituent Assembly can be realized and the “right to self-determination” achieved, they pointed out that:
“The local Congress committees broadened through the inclusion of the delegates from the workers’, peasants’, small traders’ . . . organizations should become the units for the election of the Constituent Assembly.”
Thus Roy and his followers proposed to create under the protection of the British army on “organ of democratic power,” maintaining that the British would be unable to do anything “for the sovereign authority of the Constituent Assembly cannot be doubted.” (Vanguard p. 12; People, January 21, 1931).
The same thing was said by Mr. Bradjeshi Sing, secretary of Roy’s Defence Committee, in the People, August 30, 1931.
A constituent assembly without a revolution, convoked by means of parliamentary elections — such was Roy’s conception of revolution which Nehru and the other “left” national reformists hastened to support. The idea of a peaceful victory, of non-violence, tried first in 1919-22 and tested again in 1930-31, has dismally failed and with it has collapsed also the idea of the peaceful capture of power through a constituent assembly.
Among ever growing sections of the workers, peasants, city poor and intelligentsia the idea of “non-violence” has been exposed as an anti-national, anti-revolutionary conception. Even among some of the “advanced” elements of the bourgeoisie, especially those dependent primarily upon the home market, the rejection of violence in principle has begun to raise doubts, for it weakened their ability to keep the masses under their influence.
The organ of the moderate elements of the National Congress Mahratta (July 24, 1932) offers the following advice to the reformists in the trade-union movement: “As regards non-violence in creed and method, we have to say that in the Indian National Congress which has adopted non-violence, it has led to many complications in interpretation and practice. Therefore, labour should think twice before accepting it. We hold that the restriction of labour to peaceful, legitimate and democratic methods will be enough to serve the purpose.”
Thus the organ of the congress moderates in very cautious terms expresses its doubt about the advisability of the rejection of non-violence in principle. This does not mark a turn towards revolutionary violence, towards the revolution. It merely means that some sections of the bourgeoisie by threatening to reject the principle of non-violence, are trying to consolidate their positions in the negotiations with British imperialism, and at the same time strengthen, their manoeuvring capacity to keep the masses under their leadership.
It is becoming more and more difficult to approach the toiling masses with the proposal to continue the struggle, adhering to the creed of non-violence. “All these attempts,” admits the so-called Committee for the Organization of a Revolutionary Party of the Indian Working Class, “for a Civil Disobedience movement stand exposed before the masses of our people as leading them nowhere but to surrender and capitulation” (page 7 of the Appeal). The great masses of the toilers, as well as a considerable section of the city petty bourgeoisie, are dissatisfied with the policy of “non-violence” and compromise pursued by the National Congress. The National Congress, taking into consideration the discontent of the masses and the rise of the agrarian revolution, made an opposition manoeuvre, at the beginning of 1932. Roy and his followers, cognizant of the leftward tendency among the great masses of the petty bourgeoisie, were also forced to change their slogan of a peaceful victory through a constituent assembly. In their leaflet of July 1932 they came forward with the statement that “the way to that goal lies inevitably through a mass insurrection, for imperialism would never allow the Indian people to assert their right to self-determination.” (p. 15).
The new position of Roy’s followers is nothing but a manoeuvre reflecting the growing discontent of the petty bourgeoisie with the policy of the leaders of the National Congress, and the turn from non-violence to revolution developing among the toiling masses. The new position of Roy’s group (which still continues to supplant the slogan of independence by the slogan of right to self-determination) essentially leads to the old position of preservation of the influence of the bourgeois National Congress. It tries to distract the attention of the toiling masses from a genuine revolutionary struggle. The followers of Roy speak in favour of insurrection now, but the facts prove the contrary. The basic tasks of the revolutionary struggle of the toilers at the present time are as follows: (1) to develop a general strike and convert it into a general political strike; (2) to develop the spontaneous peasant movement for the non-payment of rent, debts and taxes into an all-Indian movement and direct it into the channels of an agrarian revolution, and (3) to develop a nation-wide movement for independence, attracting the petty bourgeoisie to it besides the workers and peasants, and isolating the bourgeoisie and the bourgeois National Congress.
The development of the struggle for independence the growing class struggle and the developing rapprochement between the anti-imperialist and the agrarian movements, places the concrete tasks above mentioned in the centre of the attention of the entire country. Yet Roy and his followers, instead of supporting the mass struggle, are doing their best to disorganize it. The disrupting work of this group has been most strikingly manifested in its efforts to prevent the railway strike. Roy, together with Ruikar and Co. in an alliance with jamnadas Mchta and Giri have been successfully disrupting the general railway strike for nearly a year, in spite of the fact that the overwhelming majority of the workers have taken a stand in favour of a strike. The workers of the Bengal-Nagpur railway alone have voted for a strike by a majority of 92 per cent, against 8 per cent.
The policy of Roy’s followers is the same with regard to the agrarian movement. While admitting on page 6 of the appeal of the “Committee of the Organization of a Revolutionary Party of the Indian Working Class” that the no-rent movement “has become an objective necessity” and that the disobedience movement may at any moment develop into a signal for an “agrarian uprising” which will, at first, assume the form of a no-rent movement, the committee declares (p. 5):
” With such revolutionary purpose the Civil Disobedience cannot and should not have been started when it leads to premature clash for which the masses are not yet prepared.” The No Rent Movement is premature. This is Roy’s idea.
Pledging now devotion to the “mass uprising” and admitting that the basis of the Indian revolution will be an agrarian revolution. Roy’s followers oppose and disorganize the peasant struggle. They hinder the truly revolutionary organization of the great peasant masses, prevent the revolutionary education of the toiling masses, and disorganize genuine preparation of a “mass uprising.” Thus Roy’s followers while criticizing Congress leadership from the “left” in words, as a matter of fact, help the bourgeois National Congress to disrupt the struggle of the peasantry and make the consolidation of the positions and power of British imperialism easier in this way. Roy’s followers actually come forward as enemies of the Indian revolution. The workers and peasants must understand that this idea of a constituent assembly, has as its objective the disarmament of the masses, the prevention of an agrarian revolution, the maintenance of the leadership of the bourgeoisie and, in total, the consolidation of the rule of British imperialism. The slogan of Constituent Assembly thus clears the road for constitutional “reforms” and diverts the attention of the masses from immediate revolutionary struggle, from the fact that India’s independence can be achieved only through a revolutionary uprising. The duty of all class-conscious workers is to carry on systematic agitation and organization for the mobilization and education of the toiling masses (of which the peasant movement, railway strike, etc., is a part) with a view to bringing them eventually to a national uprising. The vigorous development of the struggle of the toiling masses for partial, everyday demands constitutes an integral part of this preparation.
The proposal of Roy’s group represents an attempt to strengthen the authority of the National Congress by re-naming it a constitutional assembly, and consolidate the influence and the leadership of the treacherous bourgeoisie over the toiling masses.
Roy’s “Constituent Assembly” is the same National Congress, with the same counter-revolutionary bourgeois programme and substance — only under a different name.
That is why the “left” Nehru, Bose and Co. immediately came out in support of the constituent assembly. This also explains why the bourgeoisie, including Roy and his friends, are so bitterly opposed to the slogan of an Indian Federative Soviet Workers’ and Peasants’ Republic advanced by the Communist Party of India, and backed up by labour demonstrations. For this slogan of the Communist Party which in the present period signifies a democratic dictatorship of the working class and peasantry is wholly directed against imperialism, feudalism and the treacherous bourgeoisie whom Roy’s group actually defends.
Roy’s democratic constituent assembly not only signifies support of the leadership of the Indian bourgeoisie, but will make it easier for the ruling classes of India to reach an agreement with imperialism, an agreement aiming at the joint exploitation of the Indian people.
THE STRUGGLE OF ROY’S GROUP AGAINST THE HEGEMONY OF THE WORKING CLASS.
The Roy-Kabadi-V.N. Joshi-Kandalkar group opposes the hegemony of the working class. In the revolutionary movement they act as agents of the bourgeoisie, objectively facilitating the consolidation of the imperialist rule.
During the campaign of the Bombay “Labour Week” (1930) they advanced the slogan: “The Workers and Peasants are the arms and feet of the National Congress.” This slogan strikingly expressed the essence of the position of this group; the leadership (the head) belongs to the bourgeoisie, while the working class and the peasantry follow it.
The growth of the class consciousness of the workers compelled Roy to cover this slogan with an agitation, the essence of which was that the National Congress is a non-partisan organization of the whole people. The careful attempts to conceal the fact that the National Congress is the organization of the Indian bourgeoisie, connected with the landlord class, glaringly testifies that Roy’s followers support the bourgeoisie, and oppose the hegemony of the proletariat. This may be traced on a number of questions.
(A) THE WORKING CLASS — ACCORDING TO ROY.
The leaflet entitled Appeal to the Students (July, 1932) and signed “Committee of Action for Independence” says on p. 5: “The backward Indian masses, brutally oppressed and mercilessly exploited by foreign imperialism and its native allies are not yet politically conscious . . . They are not able to grasp big political issues. National freedom remains an abstract conception for them”. The toiling masses, including the workers, have not yet grown ripe for the struggle for independence — this is how far the “revolutionists” (!) from Roy’s group have gone in their statements. That’s why Roy’s followers are opposing so furiously, together with Giri, Shiva Rao and Co., the left wing of the Trade-Union Congress for its anti-imperialist position at the Nagpur congress of the T.U.C.
Roy’s followers have become so impudent, declaring that to the masses national freedom remains an “abstract conception” that they did not even take the trouble of explaining why millions of workers and peasants came out in 1930 and 1931 to demonstrate for independence. Why at numberless meetings the workers advanced the slogans “Long Live the Revolution,” “Long Live the Workers’ and Peasants’ Republic.” In nearly every strike, for example in the strike of the dockers in Bombay (1932) the workers advanced, in addition to their concrete demands, general revolutionary slogans. This was reported by the bourgeois papers — (see Bombay Chronicle, etc.) . . . and the same revolutionary slogans of the workers were declared on the streets of Sholapur, Bombay, Calcutta, Cawnpore, etc., etc. — but the “revolutionists” (!) from the Committee of Independence seem not to have noticed this.
Roy’s followers have let the cat out of the bag. All their vows of devotion to Marxism and labour only serve to hide their true position, their lack of faith in the revolution, their distrust of the class consciousness of the proletariat, and the ability of the proletariat, not only to become the leader of the national movement, but even to participate in the struggle for independence. Thus Roy’s followers are simple lieutenants of the bourgeois National Congress, and act as agents of the Indian bourgeoisie.
(B) ROY ADVISES THE WORKING CLASS TO FIGHT FOR SMALL
The followers of Roy not only maintain that the toiling masses are not prepared for the struggle for independence, but even claim (see the same leaflet) that since “under the burden of intolerable exploitation they are moved by elementary partial economic demands . . . it is necessary to set an intermediate objective before them — an object which can be easily visualized by the masses,” and not to raise the big issues of independence, of land, of power. Roy converts the struggle for partial demands into an aim in itself, and does everything possible to lower the class-consciousness of the working class. According to them it is necessary to put an end to the struggle for independence, which is an “abstract conception” to the masses and to take up only the struggle for partial demands.
While pledging their allegiance to the struggle for independence, Roy’s followers have gone over to the position of Giri, Chaman Lal, Shiva Rao and the other agents of British imperialism, who are trying their best to defeat the struggle for independence. Ruikar, the President of the Reformist Trade Union Congress, speaking at a meeting of the textile workers’ union in Nagpur, declared that the workers are disappointed with the National Congress. Admitting this, Mr. Ruikar appealed to the textile workers (and a resolution was actually passed) not to take part in the Congress Movement, and limit the struggle of the workers to trade-union activities (1932).
This is exactly what Roy’s followers are aiming at. Seeing the growing disappointment of the working masses with the policy of the National Congress they seek to direct the labour movement into the channels of economism. *
That’s why they talk about the lack of class consciousness of the toiling masses, that’s why they were forming an alliance with the Giri group. This policy has been demonstrated most glaringly on the issue of the general strike, as well as of the general railway strike. As far back as December 1930 Kandal-kar opposed the general strike slogan, declaring: “We must stop talking of a general strike for the establishment of the Indian Workers’ Republic” (Bombay Chronicle, December 1930). Roy’s followers falsely maintained that the communists wanted an immediate general strike to establish the proletarian dictatorship. They deliberately distorted the position of the communists, which was clearly stated in the draft platform of action of the C.P. of India. This was necessary to Roy’s group to carry out systematic disorganization of the general strike preparations. Together with Jamnadas Mehta, Giri and Co., they systematically postponed and disrupted preparations for the railway strike. In an open letter to the Bombay Workers (1931) the Roy-Shaik-Kandal-Kar group wrote: “Fight only for partial demands, as it is pure romanticism to talk about a general strike . . . and to put forward the slogan of a workers’ and peasants’ government.”
Similarly, in an appeal of the “Committee for the Organization of a Revolutionary Party of the Indian Working Class” to the Calcutta Trade Union Congress (1931) Roy’s followers declared “There is no use . . . to pass high-sounding resolutions about the general strike and to declare the intention of establishing a socialist republic,” and further: “The goal of a socialist republic is too distant and abstract for the average worker who wants something nearer and more concrete,” and in conclusion condemned the anti-imperialist position of the Trade-Union Congress in Nagpur. And so, while carrying on agitation against a general strike and maintaining, with Nehru, that the workers are not class conscious and do not want the strike, Roy’s followers again put forward the charge against the communists that they are urging an immediate establishment of a socialist republic. Why was it necessary to distort the position of the C.P. of India. which, in its draft platform of action, declared that the first stage of the revolution must solve essentially the bourgeois democratic tasks. Roy’s followers required this distortion to reject the revolution and repudiate the struggle for independence, the agrarian revolution, the hegemony of the proletariat, for these “aims” according to them, are “remote and abstract” to the workers, while the boycott of the Whitley Commission was, according to Roy; “Sectarianism and ultra-radicalism.” In line with this, Roy’s followers disorganized the general strike preparations because such a strike would constitute a most important step forward in the struggle for India’s freedom and the establishment of the proletarian hegemony. Roy’s followers are trying to conceal their anti-revolutionary policy, charging the communists with rejecting the struggle for partial demands. Yet it is a fact that the Communist Party of India participates in the daily struggles of the working class, not in words, but in deeds (Bombay, Kurla, Cholapur, Calcutta, the G.I.P. railway, etc.), and in its platform action, published in 1930, strongly stressed the necessity of participation in and leadership of the struggle for the partial demands of the toiling masses. Roy required the lying charge of ultra-radicalism and neglect of the struggle for partial demands, against the Communist Party of India, only in order to cover up their anti-revolutionary position, disarm the proletariat and leave the workers without a programme of fundamental demands. Yet this programme of the C.P. expresses the aspirations of the masses. On the basis of this programme the proletariat has begun the struggle for hegemony in the national movement and under its banner will develop the Indian revolution. According to Roy it is not the business of the working class to deal with the questions of power, with the agrarian revolution, etc. for to it freedom is only an “abstract conception.” It is clear therefore why Roy’s followers, being true agents of the bourgeoisie, oppose all the genuine measures for the development of the revolutionary struggle, and establishment of the hegemony of the proletariat. Hence the chief cry of Roy’s, as well as the entire bourgeois — and Congress agitation consists in the accusation of “ultra-radicalism,” “sectarianism,” and “subordination to the Moscow dictatorship,” etc. against the Communist Party. This accusation is made because the red trade-unions and the Communist Party are fighting not only for the general political demands of the working class, but are continuously conducting a consistent and honest fight in the economic field, leading strikes in the spirit of the class struggle, and exposing the treacherous and anti-labour policy of the reformists and national-reformists.
THE INDIAN BOURGEOISIE IN THE ESTIMATION OF ROY.
The estimation of the struggling class forces in India given by the Roy group is in direct conflict with that of the Comintern. According to the Comintern, the driving forces of the Indian revolution are the working class and the peasantry — together with the city poor, among whom the proletariat, headed by the Communist Party, is beginning to and will play the leading and organizing role. The proletariat is capturing this position of leadership not in an alliance with, but in a struggle against, the treacherous bourgeoisie and all its reformist detachments; particularly the “left” whom it is necessary to expose and isolate. Contrary to this point of view the entire policy and activity of Roy and Co. are aimed at reducing the proletariat to the position of a helpless appendage of the bourgeoisie.
Roy’s conception and estimation of the class forces. and the policy propagated by him are national-menshevist. According to this the proletariat occupies the position of a left flank of an integral national bourgeois front, led and headed by the treacherous bourgeoisie. The proletariat’s task, according to Roy, consists in criticizing the “waverings” of the bourgeoisie and the bourgeois National Congress, and exerting pressure upon it through its “left” wing. This is a clearly treacherous position of surrender. The Roy Group is trying to realize this policy in a very skilful manner. They are ready, at times, to criticize the national bourgeoisie. But, at the same time, are doing their best to conceal the fact that the National Congress is a bourgeois organisation. The followers of Roy are not only keeping quiet upon the bourgeois character of the national congress, but are also referring to it as a general non-Party people’s organization. “The Congress is not so bad, insists Roy. The trouble amounts to this, that the Congress has very unsuitable leaders. These leaders make mistakes, and the fault with them is to be found in their adherence to certain false ideals, unpractical principles, unsuitable ethical creeds, and so on and so forth.” Nothing is wrong with the National Congress, except the old leadership. Replace it with a new, more “left” leadership and everything will be alright. This is all that Roy and Co. have to offer. There is not a grain of class analysis in this approach. But it is consistent with their role of agents of the bourgeoisie in the revolutionary movement.
“The Indian bourgeoisie,” wrote Roy in an article written in the Cawnpore jail on August 23 and published in the Berlin Arbeiter Politik on September 19, 1931, ” ‘was convinced’ by British imperialism ‘to surrender.’ ” MacDonald’s government is to be blamed for the fact that the Indian bourgeoisie is forced to accept a sham “self-government,” contrary to its will. Thus Mr. Roy completely absolves the Indian bourgeoisie and the National Congress from responsibility for the betrayal of the national revolutionary movement. He tried to convince the masses that the Indian bourgeoisie was prepared to wage a struggle against British Imperialism.
In the leaflet signed by the “Committee for the Organization of a Revolutionary Party of the Indian Working Class,” the conduct and “mistakes” of the bourgeois National Congress are described as follows “Thanks to its own policy, the Congress placed itself in the most shameful position. Voluntarily, it removed the pressure which told upon reluctant imperialism. In the blessed name of truth, it suspended all mass activities, allowing the government a breathing space.” (p. 3): “Press any Congress leader and you will drive him to the corner where he would sacrifice the political programme of complete national independence on the altar of the ethical creed of non-violence.”We,” adds the leaflet, “are not preaching violence. We are drawing conclusions from a realistic analysis of the situation.” And, the leaflet further maintains, “if Gandhi’s principle that “India does not want to spill the blood of her rulers’ is to be adopted, she must make peace with her rulers ‘on their terms.’ ”
And so Roy’s followers declare in their statements, that the bourgeois National Congress is prepared to fight for independence but, adhering to the ethical doctrine of non-violence, it cannot achieve anything. For this reason, the Committee advises, the National Congress must abandon this principle as this will strengthen its position in dealings with the British. The rejection of non-violence as a creed, the Committee prudently adds, does not mean propaganda of violence. Roy’s followers try to interpret the doctrine of non-violence as a purely ethical doctrine, which is against the interests of the bourgeoisie. Such an explanation is a travesty of Marxism. Roy’s adherents seek to blur the fact that the doctrine of non-violence represents an expression of the bourgeoisie’s fear of the people’s revolution, an attempt to thwart the agrarian and anti-imperialist revolution. They stress that they do not propose to preach violence. They merely want to strengthen the position of the Indian bourgeoisie in its negotiators with British imperialism, and, to this end, they recommend the rejection of “non-violence” as a creed. At the same time it would enable them to strengthen the manoeuvring capacity of the National Congress in duping the toiling masses. Of course, the committee’s talk about the rejection of the doctrine of non-violence, as a creed, also reflects the pressure of the great masses of the petty bourgeoisie, and of the toiling masses who are dissatisfied with the policy of the National Congress.
The proletariat, according to Roy and Co., must exercise pressure upon the bourgeoisie and remain within the united front and a single organization, i.e., must completely submit to the leadership of the treacherous bourgeoisie. That is why Roy and Co. urge the workers to follow the National Congress, to support the “Left” Nehru, Bose and the others, and “capture” the National Congress from within. For this reason, Roy advanced the slogan of the Constituent Assembly, and sharply opposed the general strike and the independent programme of the working class. The Indian bourgeoisie, through the National Congress, Gandhi, and the liberals, are negotiating with British imperialism upon the conditions of the joint exploitation of the Indian people. The “left” wing of the National Congress, constitutes an inseparable part of the bourgeois National Congress which is occasionally ready to declare semi-opposition to the Congress leadership. And Mr. Roy and Co., while mildly criticizing the participation of the Congress leaders in the negotiations with British imperialism, urge that the “left” wing of the National Congress, Nehru, Bose and Co., be supported. Thus Roy, together with the bourgeoisie, is trying to mislead the masses and disorganize the revolutionary struggle.
A NATIONAL BOURGEOIS PARTY INSTEAD OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY.
In line with their policy, Roy and his followers are doing their best to retard the development of the communist movement — and the formation of the Communist Party.
The growth of the class consciousness of the proletariat, and the formation of the local groups, from which the Communist Party is being built, takes place at a time when class differentiation is increasing. The communist groups, and the movement in general, are assuming an independent character, not only from the bourgeoisie, but the petty bourgeoisie as well. The period when Roy appeared as a communist, corresponded to that when the working class and the petty bourgeoisie were merged, and marched as one body, under the leadership of the bourgeois National Congress. It is not accidental that Roy and his followers, while pledging their loyalty to the Comintern and subscribing to the necessity to creating a Communist Party, actually did everything possible to hamper the formation of one in spite of the fact that Lenin, at the II Congress of the Comintern (1920), pointed out that the first and foremost task of the proletarian revolutionaries consists in the creation of an independent Communist Party. Comrade Stalin in 1925, in his speech on India enumerated the basic tasks of the Indian communists: “1. Winning over the best elements of the working class to the side of communism and the creation of an independent Communist Party; 2. formation of a national-revolutionary bloc of workers, peasants and revolutionary intellectuals against the bloc of the reformist national bourgeoisie and imperialism; 3. establishment of the hegemony of the proletariat in this bloc; 4. struggle to free the town and rural petty-bourgeoisie from the influence of the reformist national bourgeoisie . . . ” yet Roy, while agreeing with the line of the Communist International in words, pursued a policy of subordinating the proletariat to the bourgeoisie, and sabotaging the creation of the Communist Party. That is why he was subsequently expelled from the ranks of the Communist movement. In opposition to the Communist Party, Roy and his followers have made systematic attempts to create a national “revolutionary” party.
In his book, The Future of Indian Politics (1928) Mr. Roy proposed to “Convert the Swaraj Party into a national revolutionary party of the people. The first event in the future of Indian politics will be the crystallization of such a party” (p. 99).
Mr. Roy proposed to convert the reformist, bourgeois party of Swarajists * into a national “revolutionary” party, and recognize it as the leader of the people’s movement. In 1930, Roy and his followers, in a manifesto signed by the International opportunist group of Brandler, expelled from the ranks of the Comintern, repeated again: “The National Congress was very useful in the period of agitation and propaganda. But it could not act as a political party aiming at true struggle. Consequently the task of the movement is the creation of a national revolutionary party.”
The creation of a national “revolutionary” party to aid the bourgeois National Congress — this idea of Roy’s coincided with the desires of Nehru, Bose and Co., who, at one time, organized a League of Independence and are (see Bose’s speech at the Conference of the Youth at Maharashtra at the end of 1931) talking now of their readiness to create a separate organization of the left wing, in opposition to the present leadership of the National Congress. The sharpening of the class struggle in 1930-31, the growth of the workers’ class consciousness and the general sympathy on the part of the great masses to socialism have forced Roy’s followers to drop the slogan of a national revolutionary party. In 1931 they substituted the proposal to build a workers’ and peasants’ party for this, finally changing this too, and adopting a different name “A Revolutionary Party of the Indian working class.” They changed the name; the essence they left unchanged. And the essence consists in strengthening the influence and leadership of the National Congress and hiding its bourgeois class character. The essence is to direct the attention of the masses to the demand for the replacing of the present leadership of the National Congress by a new “left” leadership. The aim is to prevent the formation of the C. P. of India to preserve the interests of the bourgeoisie.
This position of Roy is clearly stated in the leaflet published by the “Committee for the Organization of a Revolutionary Party of the Indian Working Class” (July 1932). On the lessons of the disobedience campaign, the leaflet states: “In the future it is not likely to be otherwise so long as it takes place under the same leadership and with the same ideology” (p. 5). “Under its present leadership, Congress can never organize a serious no-rent campaign” (p. 6). etc., etc. The leaflet blurs the fact that the conduct of the National Congress leaders is the same as that of the Indian bourgeoisie, and cannot be otherwise. Roy’s followers try to convince the masses that the only trouble with the National Congress is, that its leaders adhere to incorrect principles (non-violence, etc.) while honestly fighting for freedom. Roy is ready to criticize the capitalists occasionally, but these capitalists whom he fights are abstract without flesh and blood. At the same time Roy is trying to divert the attention of the toilers from the preparation for a general strike, from developing the movement against the payment of rent, taxes and debts. They do their best to prevent the creation of an anti-imperialist front of the workers, peasants and revolutionary sections of the petty bourgeoisie under the leadership of the working class.
Roy’s followers see, however, that the name of the National Congress is becoming more and more discredited in the eyes of the masses. Hence their proposal that the local Congress committees be transformed into “committees of action for independence” (p. 14) to secure the convocation of a Constituent Assembly.
While being forced to express agreement with a mass uprising, Roy tries to preserve the authority of the bourgeois National Congress, disrupt the preparation of a general strike, and disorganize the no-rent movement, claiming that it is “premature.” He opposes the leading role of the proletariat, maintaining that freedom is an “abstract conception” to the masses. He wants to break the unity of the working-class ranks, split the trade-union congress and join hands with the Giri-Shiva Rao group, which is the agency of British imperialism in the ranks of the trade-union movement. The policy and practice of the Roy group is consistent with its general programme of demands.
ROY’S BOURGEOIS PROGRAMME.
The seven fundamental principles of the “organic law of the free national states” proposed by Roy (laid down in the leaflets of the “Committee for the Organization of a Revolutionary Party of the Indian Working Class,” in the articles published by Independent India, in all speeches, etc.), do not even represent a programme for a consistent and full solution of the democratic tasks, and the liberation of the country from the yoke of the imperialists. At the beginning, Roy’s group (as it was stated in the Bombay magazine Vanguard, 1929-30) in an appeal signed by Shaik, Kabadi, Bradjeshi Sing, promised: “The abolition of the native states and landlordism should take place by decree of a national democratic state, empowering the peasants to confiscate the land” and further “the abolition of peasant indebtedness only in cases where the peasant is in a state of bankruptcy.” Roy’s followers proposed to the peasants to postpone their struggle for the land until the bourgeoisie and landlords voluntarily submit to the toiling masses. The reformist nature of the Roy Group was shown here very clearly — with the development of the revolutionary movement, such a programme could not attract the toiling masses. Mr. Roy changed the tone a bit and modified his programme somewhat.
Independent India of October 6, 1931, publishes this programme in full:
- Transfer of power to all the oppressed and exploited masses.
- Abolition of native states and landlordism.
- Freedom of the peasantry from all exploitation and exaction so that greater part of their surplus production remains in their possession.
- Nationalization of land, public utilities, mineral resources and banks.
- Unconditional repudiation of all debts contracted by the irresponsible foreign government.
- Improvement of the condition of the industrial workers, etc.
- Control of the economic life of the country by workers’ and peasants’ councils, so that fruits of national freedom shall not be monopolized by the fortunate few.”
This maximum programme does not go to the end even in the solution of the problems of the bourgeois democratic revolution, and the liberation of the country from the yoke of the imperialists. It differs little in reality from Nehru’s “socialist” programmes: It may even be said, that on some points, Nehru’s demands are even more “radical.”
While Roy emits the vague and hazy phrase about “transfer of power over to the oppressed and exploited masses,” young Nehru takes a stand in favour of a peasant ‘workers’ republic. In reality both of them are trying to consolidate the power of the bourgeoisie.
Jawaharlal Nehru constantly talks of destroying landlordism and “improving” the position of the peasantry. The programme of Roy’s followers says about the same. But both of them carefully evade the question of confiscation without compensation of the entire land of the landlords, moneylenders, princes, merchants, and of handing it over to the peasantry. Mr. Nehru sometimes speaks of the necessity of partial compensation, while Roy’s followers prefer to maintain a shy silence on it. Just like Nehru, Roy prefers not to speak about the cancellation of all the debts of the peasantry to the usurers and banks. But this agrarian programme appears even more brazen when it comes to its practical application, The first thing recommended in a leaflet quoted above, and signed by the “Committee for the Organization of a Revolutionary Party of the Indian Working Class” is to refrain from the no-rent movement as being “premature.” “The peasants,” writes Roy in the opportunist magazine Gegen den Strom (Berlin, December 30, 1930) “must make the agrarian revolution ‘in stages,’ ” i.e., slow up and abandon the revolutionary struggle of the masses. And as Roy holds that the fundamental political questions are only an “abstract conception” to the masses the struggle should be conducted only “for partial economic demands” for a “reduction of the ground rent by fifty per cent.” etc. (we are quoting from the leaflet of the “Committee of action for Independence” issued in June 1932).
Roy and his followers carefully avoid the question of how to wage the actual struggle which is going on in the countryside, because they regard the spontaneous refusal of the peasantry to pay rent, debts and taxes as “premature.” The reasons are clear. They have even been stated in the letter of Vidyarthi — Roy of June 20th published in the July issue of the Gegen den Strom, where it is said: “A reduction of the rent by seventy-five per cent for the entire period of the present depression and its reduction by fifty per cent upon the restoration of normal conditions, the introduction of fixed rent agreements . . . . ”
The demand for a reduction of rent, put forward by Roy has been advanced by Gandhi as well, who in his famous eleven points (1930), included a point for a fifty per cent. reduction of rent, which did not prevent him from helping the British officials in 1931 to collect taxes and debts from the starving peasantry. But the most characteristic of all is the fact that, in his demands in the above-quoted statement Roy admitted that he hoped that “normal conditions would soon be restored.” Mr. Roy let the cat out of the bag again.
But the peasant risings in Kashmir, Udaipur, the punitive expeditions throughout India, the two army brigades despatched to Bengal, etc., etc. shattered to pieces the hopes of the National Congress and Roy for the speedy return of “normal conditions.” No wonder the “Committee for the Creation of a Revolutionary Party of the Indian Working Classes” in its pamphlet (pp. 5 and 6) opposes the no-rent disobedience movement as “premature” for, according to them, “civil disobedience may at any moment become a signal for an agrarian revolt.” Roy’s followers will not see any speedy “restoration of normal conditions.” On the contrary the leftward trend of the petty bourgeoisie, a trend accompanied by disappointment with the theory of non-violence, has forced Roy’s followers to add to their Constituent Assembly a “call” to an uprising. But who will believe them — the national-reformists, the disorganizers of the struggle of the people?
And those sections of the petty bourgeoisie of the city who are turning from non-violence to revolutionary violence, to the revolution, will soon learn from their experience in life that the only force capable of carrying the struggle for independence to the end is the proletariat, led by the Communist Party. The task of the communists is precisely to lead the peasantry and bring them over to the side of the proletariat, to bring all the revolutionary democratic elements over to the side of the worker-peasants bloc. To lead them correctly, to educate the toiling masses and isolate the national reformists of all shades and grades — this is the task of the communists. This is what “the platform of action of the Communist Party of India” has stressed and the entire revolutionary practice of the communists is trying to carry into effect. The Communist Party of India has put forward and is carrying out the following programme for the development of the revolutionary agrarian peasant movement, a programme which truly expresses the interests of the peasants and shows them the way to fight.
“I. The C.P. of India fights for the confiscation without compensation of all land and estates, forests and pastures of the native princes, landlords, moneylenders and the British Government, and their transference to peasant committees for use by the toiling masses of the peasantry. The C.P. of India fights for the complete wiping out of the mediaeval system of landholding, to cleanse the whole of the land from the rubbish of the middle ages.
“II. The C.P. of India fights for the immediate confiscation of all plantations and their transference to revolutionary committees elected by the plantation workers. The allotments to which the planters assign their contract workers and also the land not in cultivation to be handed over to the labourers and poor peasants as their property. At the same time the C.P. of India is in favour of the nationalization of large-scale mechanically equipped plantations, and workshops connected therewith, for utilization in the interests of the whole Indian people.
“III. The C.P. of India fights for the immediate nationalization of the whole system of irrigation, complete cancellation of all indebtedness and taxes, and the transference of the control and supervision of the work of irrigation to revolutionary peasant committees elected by the working peasantry.
“IV. In order to maintain revolutionary pressure against the Government the C.P. of India calls upon the peasantry and agricultural proletariat to engage in all kinds of political demonstrations, and collective refusal to pay taxes and dues, or to carry out the orders and decisions of the government and its agents.
“V. The C.P. of India calls for refusal to pay rent, irrigation charges or other exactions, and refusal to carry out any labour services whatsoever (begars) for the landlords, native princes and their agents.
“VI. The C.P. of India calls for refusal to pay debts and arrears to the government, the landlords, and the money lenders in any form whatsoever.
“VII. As a practical watchword for the campaign among the peasantry, and as a means of developing more political consciousness in the peasant movement, the C.P. of India calls for the immediate organization of revolutionary peasant committees in order to carry on a fight to achieve all the revolutionary democratic changes required in the interests of emancipating the peasantry from the yoke of British imperialism and its feudal allies.
“VIII. The C.P. of India calls for the independent organization of the agricultural proletariat particularly the plantation workers, and its amalgamation with the proletariat of the towns under the banner of the Communist Party, as well as its representation in the peasant committees.
“The C.P. of India is firmly convinced that the complete, thoroughgoing and permanent achievement of the above-mentioned political and social changes is possible only by the overthrow of British domination and the creation of a Federal Workers’ and Peasants’ Soviet Republic.” (From the Draft Platform of Action of the C.P. of India).
THE REACTIONARY BLOC WITH SHIVA RAO AND GIRl AGAINST THE WORKING CLASS.
While disorganizing the preparations for a general strike, Roy’s group systematically pursued the policy of splitting the ranks of the workers, at the same time making an alliance with the Joshi-Shiva-Rao group in order to isolate the communists and the revolutionary trade unionists. The most important task of disorganizing the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat fell on the shoulders of the followers of Roy and their petty bourgeois collaborators. With the aid of the National Congress — Roy-Kandalkar-Shaik-V.N. Joshi and Co. have split the Girni Kamgar† of Bombay, split the Trade-Union Propaganda Committee in Bombay (1931), split the Trade-Union Congress in Calcutta, and finally made an alliance with the Joshi group; the basic condition of which was to fight the communists in the labour movement.
Mr. Vidyarthi — Roy wrote in the People (Lahore, p. 115) that a “mighty middle (read: Reformist) group” has been created in the trade-union movement associated with Mehta which includes also those (i.e., Roy and Co.) who, while fighting against the “blunders of the orthodox Moscovites in the Indian labour movement,” nevertheless support (!) the “Russian methods” and sincerely (!) try to establish unity on the basis of true trade unionism, and have worked out a platform which has been adopted by this middle group, the purpose of which is to fight against “both extreme wings.”
Roy’s group regards the creation of this middle group, composed of Jamnadas Mehta and Co., as its greatest achievement, and the entire bourgeois press agrees, and hails it. What is the essence of this unity? Roy Vidyarthi explains this sufficiently clearly himself. In the Revolutionary (!) Age of September 5, the American organ of the opportunist Brandlerites, in his article on the situation in the labour movement of India, Mr. Roy writes:
“In the course of a few months a powerful middle group has crystalized on the platform of unity” . . . “and it is not by choice that the right wing (Joshi, Giri, ete.) is moving towards unity on a platform of class struggle. They are being forced to that position . . . . As a matter of fact, since the conference (Unity Conference, Bombay, summer 1931), the right wing leaders have modified their attitude and have gone to the extent of showing readiness to liquidate the Federation, provided some concessions be made to them as regards attending the Geneva Conference. We are prepared to make the concession on this minor issue for the sake of unity on a platform of clear class struggle.”
At another place in his article Mr. Roy adds that the split at the Nagpur trade-union congress took place over “secondary issues.” The same idea is expressed in the leaflet published by the “Committee for the Organization of a Revolutionary Party of the Indian Working Class” and addressed to the, trade-union congress in Calcutta (1931).
Unity, according to Roy, means unity with the S. Joshi group which, according to Roy, now tends to the support of the platform of class struggle. To anyone acquainted with the real situation in India, the counter-revolutionary character of such a statement is perfectly clear.
The Joshi, group represents the interest of British imperialism in the labour movement, and has proved this throughout the history of the working-class struggle. At the present time, it is making every effort to prevent the general strike of the railway men.
Roy-Vidyarthi has become so impudent in his sneers at the Indian working class that it did not appear necessary to him to support his statement, that the Joshi group is prepared to adopt the platform of the class struggle, by any statement on the part of this group. He couldn’t have done this, for not only are there no statements in existence to this effect, but the entire practice of this group decisively proves its pro-British counter-revolutionary character (breaking up of strikes, the participation in the Round Table Conference, etc.). The Joshi group openly declares that it is opposed to the class struggle and strikes. Mr. Roy’s statement is a pure and simple lie, which he used to mislead the workers and hide the fact that he has gone over to the side of the agents of British Imperialism, and joined hands with them to break up the struggle of the workers. For that purpose he wants to create a united reactionary bloc of all the enemies of the revolutionary proletariat.
For this reason, the Roy group describes the Nagpur split as a “blunder” of the ultra-lefts, concealing the fact that the split took place upon the initiative of the reformists. Mr. Roy declares that the split caused by the reformist splitters was due to “secondary questions.”
In the appeal of the “Committee for the Organization of a Revolutionary Party of the Indian Working Class,” addressed to the trade-Union Congress in Calcutta, the Roy group demanded a split in the Congress and the expulsion of the communists. It maintained that: “This highly deplorable situation (in the labour movement) was created by the unnecessary split precipitated at Nagpur. Hasty, ill-calculated and sectarian action of the revolutionary left wing simply helped the reformists split the trade-union movement . . . and the Trade-Union Congress cannot regain its position, unless the suicidal blunder committed at Nagpur is corrected.”
But what are the actual facts? At the Trade-Union Congress at Nagpur even the national reformists (Bose, Nehru, etc.) were forced to vote against the A.I.T.U.C. participation in the work of the British Whitley commission. But Mr. Roy and Co. have the audacity to describe the refusal of the left wing to support the British imperialist commission as “sectarian tactics.” Is it not clear that Roy and Co. are betraying the struggle for independence, especially at the period when the national movement is rising.
Roy underestimates the growth of the class consciousness of the proletarian vanguard. The workers will soon understand that Roy’s statement is the statement of an agent of the bourgeoisie and of imperialists. The Nagpur split took place on the fundamental question affecting the interests of the entire Indian people, namely the question of whether a struggle should be conducted against imperialism and the Whitley commission — or whether it is necessary to adopt the path of compromises, to give up the struggle for independence, and take part in the work of the imperialist Whitley commission, in the Round Table Conference. etc., etc. The struggle for independence is a fundamental, cardinal question for India. Yet the Roy-Vidyarthi-Shaik group declares that this is a “secondary question.” Yes, to the agents of the bourgeoisie and of imperialism, this is a secondary question, but to the workers, peasants and revolutionary youth, it is a question of life and death. Yes, to the followers of Roy this is an “abstract conception,” but to the toiling masses it is a very concrete issue, on which they are fighting.
In short, “unity” as put forward by the Roy Group, means the unity of all the anti-revolutionary forces to disorganize the struggle of the masses, split the proletariat and reduce it to the position of an appendage of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie.
The disruptive activity of the Roy group and its anti-revolutionary character were clearly manifested during the Trade-Union Congress in Calcutta. It came to the surface very clearly during the formation of the Trade Union Propaganda Committee (Bombay, 1931) when Shaik, Kabadi and Kandalkar took upon themselves the initiative of splitting the unity negotiations of various trade unions. While in the leaflet addressed to the Calcutta Trade Union Congress, they included a demand to “remove the communists (whom they falsely style as ultra-leftists) from the leadership of the Congress,” and again stated that workers don’t want to fight on political issues.
Roy’s followers are against the Profintern*, they urge the workers to agree to a “temporary” (!) affiliation with Amsterdam. In the same leaflet of the “Committee for the Organization of a Revolutionary Party of the Indian Working Class,” addressed to the Calcutta Trade-Union Congress they brazenly declared: “We should stop quarrelling over issues which do not concern our movement directly . . . . The average Indian worker knows as little of Amsterdam as of Moscow. The principles involved in the issue of international affiliation are beyond his understanding.” . . . Impudently declaring the lack of class consciousness and backwardness of the workers, who are allegedly incapable of adopting a position on the fundamental questions of the independence movement, the Committee proposed: “Why not make allowance for the reformists to go to Geneva in their individual capacity . . . they cannot be prevented anyhow. Let them go to Geneva . . . .” Roy’s followers, while dragging the trade unions to Geneva and Amsterdam at the same time expelled the revolutionary trade-union wing and the communists for fighting against the Round Table Conference, against Geneva, against the National Congress, for their revolutionary position on the railway strike peasant struggles, etc. It is clear that Roy, who covers himself up by talk of trade-union “unity,” and loyalty to the class interests of the workers, really represents the interests of the bourgeoisie in the labour movement. They are disorganizers of the revolutionary movement of the toiling masses. The organ of the congress moderates Mahratta (July 25, 1932), in an article urging the workers not to associate themselves with Moscow, writes: “Indian labour must steer clear as much as of the government of India as of the foreign methods, dogmas and slogans, and chalk out a path of its own for its evolution, consistent with Indian nationalism because it is not necessary that, because in foreign countries bitter class wars are being fought between Labour and Capital, India, too, should wade through the same gory field.” Roy’s tactics and the policy of the bourgeoisie coincide. Both try to subordinate the proletariat to the leadership and interests of the reformist bourgeoisie and to undermine the revolutionary united front of the toiling masses of India and of the world proletariat.
During the Nagpur Trade Union Congress split, the national reformists were forced to come out against the agents of British imperialism (Giri-Shiva Rao and Co.). At that time many national reformists, who have lately joined hands with Roy, supported the fight against the Whitley commission. During the Trade-Union Congress in Calcutta the situation in the country changed. The Calcutta Congress met after the Karachi session of the National Congress, and during the Gandhi-Macdonald negotiations in London. The bourgeoisie was anxious to “appease” the mass movement and crush the communists. Roy’s zealous followers vigorously took up the task of carrying out the policy of the bourgeoisie. They split up the Trade-Union Congress, taking the initiative of the split upon themselves. They prevented discussion on and sidetracked (in their leaflet and resolutions) the question of the participation of the National Congress in the Round Table Conference, for it was necessary for them to divert the attention of the toiling masses from the treacherous policy of the bourgeoisie, and disorganize the ranks of the working class and revolutionary movement. They limited themselves to a mild and occasional criticism. Unfortunately, the inexperience and mistakes made by the revolutionary wing of the trade-union movement helped the national reformists to put through their manoeuvres. The semi-failure of the second session of the Round Table Conference was caused mainly by the growing peasant movement. It forced the bourgeoisie and the National Congress to resort to a new “left” manoeuvre. This “left” turn found its reflection in the policy of the “left” national reformists, including Roy-Chitnis-V.N. Joshi and Co. The growing class consciousness of the workers, and the discontent of a considerable section of the petty bourgeoisie forced the “left” national reformists to change their demagogy and move towards the left, remaining actually, nevertheless in the old anti-revolutionary, reformist position. This was revealed with sufficient clearness at the unity conference (Madras, July, 1932) at the reformist Trade-Union Congress at Madras and throughout the entire activity of Roy’s group.
The Unity Conference of the national reformists and the Joshi-Giri-Shiva Rao and Co. group was directed mainly against the communists. The Conference elected a committee to work out, on the basis of the resolution adopted, a platform of the trade-union movement. On this committee were elected, besides Giri, Bakhale and the others, a representative of the Roy group, Mr. Chitnis. What are the basic principles of this resolution, which were supported by the “left” national reformists. After some flowery statements about the “class struggle,” the resolution points out “that whenever necessary, co-operation with the employers in the interests of the workers is not excluded.” Such an interpretation of the “irreconcilability of the interests of labour and capital under the capitalist system” is the usual phrase of any working-class traitor, including Henderson, Brockway, MacDonald, etc. It is nothing else but a policy of class collaboration, of subordinating the proletariat to the interests of the capitalists.
After stating that their readiness (Joshi, Giri, etc.) to participate in the struggle for the political freedom of India, “would mean the establishment of a socialist state and during the interval, socialization and nationalization of all means of production and distribution as far as possible,” the Unity Conference forgot to advance such a slogan as the complete independence of India. It also kept silent about the struggle of the peasantry against landlordism, forgot to express its position towards the National Congress, the Round Table Conference, ete., etc. At the same time, the Conference clearly opposed the revolutionary struggle, declaring in its third point that “the methods of achieving the objective of the labour movement must be peaceful, legitimate and democratic,” This is precisely what Roy’s followers are aiming at. Their support of the national movement and the creation of a socialist (!) state must proceed according to the laws of the British constitution. Is it not a monstrous jeer at the revolutionary people! Is it not clear why Giri, Mehta, and Chitnis so vigorously oppose the communists?
Is it not clear why they are so vigorously opposed to the general strike? The general strike is a revolutionary method of struggle which cannot be contained within the framework of the British constitution.
This treacherous policy of Roy’s followers who together with Giri, Mehta and Co., split the ranks of labour, disorganize the strike struggle, disrupt the railway strike and do everything possible to help the ruling classes, is becoming clearer and clearer to the working masses. That is why the “left” national reformists, while not breaking with Giri, Mehta and Co., were forced after the Unity Conference to take a stand a bit more to the “left.” But only in words. At the Congress of the national-reformist T.U.C. in Madras, as is reported by the newspapers, by Mr. Karnik in the magazine The People (Lahore, September 25, 1932) the “left” national reformists passed a resolution against the railway federation condemning the postponing of the railway strike. Mr. Karnik was forced to admit in his article that the congress adopted this resolution against the Railway Federation under the pressure of the workers’ delegates. This resolution is without fangs, for it does not raise the question of organized preparations for a strike, over the head of the treacherous leaders. It tries to maintain the old policy of words and inactivity. It tries to provide an outlet for the dissatisfaction of the workers. It is the same old policy of disorganization and surrender. However, it proves that among the workers following the “left” national reformists, discontent and class consciousness is growing. This points once more to the absolute necessity of creating, from below, a united front of all the workers to fight the exploiters for the interests of the workers. It shows the importance of creating committees for the preparation of the strike, strike committees, and of taking the initiative for the struggle into the hands of the revolutionary wing. It shows also the absolute necessity of energetic, day to day activities in the reformist trade unions, and among the mass of unorganized workers.
The reformist Trade-Union Congress has now taken a stand against the Round Table Conference, and declared, as Mr. Karnik writes: (see The People Sept. 25, 1932 -Lahore) “that the working class will not be satisfied with any measure of reforms granted in the interests of the upper class and it demands an immediate transfer of power to the producing masses to the exclusion of the exploiting minority.” How this demand will be put into effect Mr. Karnik does not explain. The reformist Trade-Union Congress, after talking a good deal about the “right to self-determination” and socialism, again evaded the question of the general strike, of the movement against the payment of taxes, debts, and rent, i.e., continued its policy of disorganizing the revolutionary struggle. The T.U.C. promises “to destroy imperialism and capitalism” but forgets to state how to achieve it. It forgets to say what is the role of the proletariat in the mass movement. The Roy group forgets to express its attitude to the National Congress and the international revolutionary movement, etc., etc. The whole world has split up into two camps, a camp of imperialists and a camp of the revolutionary proletariat and of the toilers of the colonies. The battle between these two camps is fast approaching, the war against the U.S.S.R. is becoming ever more near. But Roy’s followers, in their legal and illegal documents, are conducting a struggle against the revolutionary camp. This is in accord with their policy of fighting against the Indian communists, the Soviet Union and the Comintern. In short, the last meeting of the reformist Trade-Union Congress proves once more that the Roy group continues as an agency of the bourgeoisie in the labour movement.
The revolutionary trade-union movement and the Communist Party of India are fighting for the creation of the true, fighting unity of the proletariat in the factories and mills, and trade unions, at the same time exposing the treacherous character of the “left” national reformists.
The Communist Party of India is quite right in exposing the Roy group as an agency of the bourgeoisie among the ranks of the working class. The Communist Party of India will continue its energetic campaign against Roy’s group, exposing its reformist nature. Roy and his friends pledge loyalty to the Comintern, and declare they fight only the leadership of Comrade Stalin and others. This is an example of the reformist anti-revolutionary methods of Mr. Roy. Being forced to flirt with the Comintern, because the working masses of India have confidence in the Communist International and the world proletariat, Roy and Co. hope to cover up their treacherous disorganizing role by a flow of words.
That is why the Roy group is even prepared to style itself communist, while at the same time declaring to the bourgeoisie (see The People . . . ) that a “communist” of Roy’s type is not a follower of the Comintern, i.e., is not a follower of international communism, but a domestic servant of the Indian bourgeoisie. It is not accidental either, that Roy and Co. taking advantage of the working masses’ natural suspicion and hatred of national oppression, are trying to undermine the confidence of the workers of India in the Soviets and the Comintern. Directly and indirectly, they try to circulate the idea that the Comintern doesn’t understand the realities of the Indian situation, does not bother itself with the national movement of India, and is incapable of helping it. Vidyarthi-Roy expressed this in the articles published in The People (Lahore) and in his manifesto written from prison (as well as in a number of other documents). Such statements of Roy are nothing but indirect support of British imperialism. They help to undermine the militant international unity of the world proletariat and the oppressed nations, to disorganize the general struggle against imperialism.
The struggle against, and exposure of, the ideological and practical activities of Roy’s group must be carried on. This is important, not for the sake of a discussion with those agents of the exploiting classes, but to win over to the side of the Communist Party those workers, peasants and honest revolutionary intellectuals who fall victims to their demagogy and “radical” phrases.
The only programme which represents the interests of the masses and indicates the road to the victory of the Indian revolution is the platform of action of the Communist Party of India.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE C.P. AND MR. ROY.
The intensification of the class struggle and the growth of class differentiation result in the open desertion of the petty bourgeois “radicals” from the side of the proletarian vanguard. But now the disillusionment of the toiling masses, and a considerable section of the city bourgeoisie with the policy of the National Congress has compelled some of these “radicals” to talk again of a revolution, while maintaining, at the same time, connections with the bourgeoisie and the bourgeois National Congress.
Roy speaks of the downward trend of the development of the communist movement. This is an obvious lie. As a matter of fact the organized communist movement began to form at the beginning of 1930. For the first time the communists broke (1930) with the “left” national reformism, and began to build up their own party. Without such ideological and organizational separation, without such a break, it is impossible to create the Communist Party in India.
The formation of an independent Communist Party was formulated by the II Congress of the Communist International as the foremost task. Stalin, in his speech of 1925, stressed it as the paramount task. Contrary to this line of the Comintern, Roy pursued a policy of subordinating and dissolving the communists in the “left” national reformism. This policy of sabotaging the direct instructions of the Comintern greatly retarded the development of the Communist Party and explains to some extent why the growth of the Communist movement does not correspond to the objective conditions.
The process of class differentiation in 1928-30 brought this break, which took place with the support of the Communist International. The renegade Roy was expelled from the ranks of the Comintern. However, the beginning of the independent existence of the Communist Party, the break with “left” national reformism was not an easy task. The young communist movement had not yet learned how to make turns and changes in its policy.
After it broke with the “left” national reformism and proclaimed a ruthless struggle upon it (which does not mean at all that the traces and remnants of the “left” national reformist ideology have disappeared in the Communist movement), the communist movement committed a serious error. The communists erroneously placed the national reformist leadership and those sections of the toilers who followed it on an equal footing. Many toilers joined the I.N.C. because it was the only organization. But many communists did not understand this. As a result of this error many communists while fighting against the “left” national reformists, held aloof from the mass anti-imperialist movement, which was formally under the “leadership” of the National Congress. They held aloof from the work in the national reformist trade unions and participation in the strikes “led” by the reformists. These communists did not understand that the true policy of the communists is quite different. The communists, while conducting tireless work and exposing the national reformists, including Roy, must at the same time take the most vigorous part in the mass movement of the toilers (whether in the form of demonstrations, strikes, meetings, mass trade unions, peasant organizations, etc., etc.). The communists taking part in this movement must advance their own slogans, carry on communist agitation, showing an example to the backward workers and attracting them to their side, raising the class consciousness of the working class. The beginning of the creation of the communist groups, of the Communist Party, revealed another weakness, as well. The essence of this was that the communists showed an inability to change from legal to “underground” forms of struggle, or, to be more exact, to a combination of the legal and “underground” forms of movement, struggle and organization. Without this it is impossible to organize and bring the toiling masses to revolutionary battles. Without this is it impossible (under present conditions) to create a mass Communist Party. To neglect the underground forms of the movement means a refusal to create the Communist Party, a refusal to conduct the revolutionary struggle, to organize the masses under the banners of the C.P. The refusal to use both legal and semi-underground forms of the movement leads again to sectarianism, to self-isolation from the masses, leads to refusal to create a mass “underground” Communist Party. The refusal to carry on everyday work in the reformist and national reformist trade unions leads to isolation and sectarianism. A number of facts show the growth of the activity and class consciousness of the proletariat. Throughout the country new strata of workers are awakening. The task of winning the masses of these workers to the side of the communists sharply places before them the task of getting into all the trade unions where the workers are organized. This is especially important at the present period. It is the duty of the communists to join every trade union, to fight from within for the class programme, for revolutionary leadership and policies. The everyday experience of the class struggle will help the workers, with the aid of the communists to accept a revolutionary policy and communist leadership. The struggle to win the working masses to the side of the Communist Party must be carried on, not only through a general agitation and general slogans but also through day-to-day activities, so that workers learn from the everyday experience of the class struggle. Activity amongst the workers who follow the reformist leadership is of exceptional importance. The experience of the railway trade unions proves this in the clearest way. Of course, the communists do not make the mistake of regarding the work in the reformist unions as something different, or in opposition to the work in the Red trade unions, the creation of new unions. On the contrary, these tasks are interconnected and their combination will speed up the liberation of the proletariat from the influence of national reformism. It will speed up the establishment of the proletarian hegemony in the people’s movement. It is a serious error (which some comrades are committing) to interpret the struggle against the national reformists in such a way that it is necessary to withdraw from the reformist trade unions and refrain from working among the masses who follow them. Such a policy is suicidal and only helps the national reformists to strengthen their influence. No less erroneous is the other point of view which maintains that the reformist and national-reformist leaders should not be criticized, as this might lead to the isolation of the communists. The refusal to criticize the reformist leaders would spell the doom of the communist movement, it would consolidate the positions of the bourgeoisie among the working class. The struggle against national reformism, and criticism of the leaders must be carried on among the rank and file, and organized in such a way that the worker should be able to see the difference between the revolutionary policy, between the demands and actions of the communists and the treacherous policy and actions of the national reformists in each concrete case. In other words, it is necessary to take this struggle against the reformists down to the masses and consistently, whether in small economic strikes, or political demonstrations and meetings, etc., to explain and point out the communist way. This is how the class consciousness of the working masses can be raised, the organizational strength of the workers increased and the policy and actions of the national reformists exposed. The revolutionary viewpoint of the proletariat not only does not exclude, but, on the contrary, most definitely presupposes participation of the communists in the everyday battles of the workers. It is a necessary part of the class education and training of the working masses. For every communist must be absolutely clear that trade-unions include workers of all kinds of opinions, degrees of developments and traditions. The trade-union, in this sense, is wider than a Communist Party. Trade-unions represent an elementary form of mass organization of workers. The first step of a backward worker is to join the trade-union. And every communist must support and utilize this channel of contact between the vanguard and broad masses of the proletariat. While the reformists, including Roy, are trying to keep workers at their present stage of development, the Communist Party, working in every mass trade union, is trying to raise the political consciousness of the working masses to the level of understanding communism, and transform them into leaders, the vanguard of the people’s revolution. That is why the communists stand for unity of the rank and file, ready to carry out the united front policy and fight shoulder to shoulder, carrying on at the same time relentless struggle against national reformists.
Comrade Lenin in “Left Wing Communism” always taught us to carry on our struggle for mobilization of masses in any given situation: “Right doctrinarianism has foundered on the recognition of only the old forms, and has become totally bankrupt, not having perceived the new contents. Left doctrinarism unconditionally repudiates certain old forms, failing to see that the new content is breaking its way through all and every form, that it is our duty as communists to master them all, to learn how to supplement, with the maximum rapidity one form by another, and to adapt our tactics to all such changes, caused not by our class nor by our endeavours”( “Left Wing Communism,” published London, pp 82).
The young communist movement of India must learn this lesson taught by Lenin. For the class struggle will put new tasks and new forms of the struggle before the communists more than once. The duty of the leadership is to carry out the new turns in the policy of the Party in such a way as to win over the majority of the toiling masses to the side of the Party, to raise the class consciousness of the workers, to free the masses from the influence of the national reformists, and develop the revolutionary struggle of the Indian people.
Chitnis, one of Roy’s followers, charges the Comintern (see Independent India, Bombay, No., 4 pp, 2-3) with . . . “forming trade unions and other organizations of the workers on an entirely independent basis.” Yes, the national reformists are against the creation of an independent proletarian Communist Party, for, to the national mensheviks it is a “hopeless muddle.” At the same time they lyingly accuse the Comintern, stating that its policy leads to a refusal to work in the reformist trade unions. The true meaning of such statements is that Roy’s followers oppose the struggle of the communists with the national reformists. Roy’s followers oppose the communists because the latter raise the slogan of creating mass red trade unions where workers are not organized; and continue to work in the reformist mass trade unions. The national mensheviks are opposed to the communists taking the initiative in building mass trade unions. They demand that the field should be left free to the reformists. Yet, the experience of the class struggle has proved that the only genuine mass trade unions so far were created only by the revolutionary wing (Girni Kamgar Union, the Great Indian Peninsular Railwaymen’s Union). The facts show that the jute workers, the miners and many other sections of the proletariat are still unorganized. The communists will carry out the most energetic work in the reformist and national reformist trade unions, where the workers are organized. They will build a revolutionary opposition there and carry on systematic agitation and organization for the revolutionary point of view, but, in addition to that, they will begin to organize the unorganized workers into trade unions. We must remember, too, that many of the existing trade unions, as a matter of fact, are bureaucratic organizations, which do not represent the workers, whose leadership is not connected with the working masses. The experience of the class struggle has shown (1927-29) that the Joshi-Bakhali group was easily driven out and isolated from the Bombay textile workers. These facts confirm the correctness of the Comintern line and prove that the policy of Roy, Chitnis and Co., is that of bourgeois agents. They try to strengthen the position of the reformists, they propose that the communists should voluntarily give up the struggle for the organization of unorganized workers, for the formation of mass class trade unions, and the mobilization of the proletariat for the revolutionary struggle. It is no accident that the national menshevik, Chitnis, ridicules the Chinese revolution and the Chinese soviets which, he sarcastically declares after Trotsky, are “built on mountains,” and are of no importance.
The national reformist, Chitnis, impudently declares (Independent India October 6, 1931) that Roy is the best disciple of Lenin. Roy, together with Wang-Tin-Wey inflicted a treacherous stab in the back at the toiling masses of China, Roy hindered the creation of an independent party of the working class, the Communist Party of India. With the growth of class differentiation, Roy joined the camp of national reformism. Some of Roy’s followers, including himself, are now in prison.* Under the conditions of the terrorist regime existing in India, this does not prove that every political prisoner is a revolutionary. It is sufficient to say that though Gandhi was in prison, it did not prevent the nationalist Rangayer justly calling him in the Legislative Assembly, the “British Empire’s greatest policeman” (Bombay Chronicle, September 30). The Indian jails at the present time hold many people who preach non-violence. These imprisonments, while testifying to the strength of the national movement and the savagery of the British yoke, do not entitle the leaders of the National Congress and the “left” national reformists to the name of revolutionists.
The communists will carry on a struggle for the liberation of all political prisoners. But this will not prevent however, their struggle against national reformism. This is necessary exactly in the interests of Indian revolution, precisely in order to free the workers, poor people and revolutionary students, from the influence of the reformists. They must be free from the reformist illusions, because this is the only way to develop the revolutionary struggle under the banner of the proletariat to win the independence of India. The Roy-Chitnis group covers up its treacherous work by charging the communists with “ultra-radicalism” and “sectarianism.”
The open letter of the British, Chinese and German Communist Parties to the Indian communists justly and sharply dealt with this slander: “The charge of sectarianism is nothing but slander of the communists of bolshevist irreconcilability to national reformism, for their revolutionary hatred of the imperialist and feudal system of exploitation, for their persistent and continuous preparation and mobilization of the toiling masses for the revolutionary overthrow of imperialist rule. The treacherous Roy-Kandalkar group in their appeal to the Trade-Union Congress in Calcutta, in the leaflet issued in Bombay against Bradley and the Meerut prisoners, by their condemnation of the position of the revolutionary wing at the Nagpur Congress of Trade Unions, by the organization of a reactionary bloc with the Joshi-Giri-Bakhale group, by their disruptive work on the railroads, by their struggle against the general strike, the platform of action of the C.P. of India. etc., only proved once more that they are agents of the bourgeoisie in the labour movement. They are carrying on a policy of subordination of the working class to the bourgeoisie, they are hindering the break of the toiling masses from national reformism and are disorganizing the revolutionary struggle of the workers and peasants for independence, land and bread.”‡
The open letter of the C.P. of China, C.P. of Great Britain, and C.P. of Germany to the Indian communists correctly outlined the immediate tasks of the Indian proletariat. The Indian working class has given heroic examples of class struggle and self-sacrifice. The splendid example of bolshevist conduct on the part of the communist labour leaders jailed in Meerut, proves once more that the day is not far off when in the cities and villages of India a powerful Communist Party will be formed. The Communist Party which will lead the revolutionary people, despite all difficulties and temporary setbacks, to victory in the struggle for independence, the land and a workers’ peasants’ power.
This pamphlet was written in 1932; many events have since taken place. The Congress leadership, as expected, called off the civil disobedience movement. Instead of fighting against the Constitution, the constitution of oppression and slavery, the constitution of imperialists and feudalists, the Congress leadership is doing its best to divert the attention of the toiling masses from the revolutionary methods of struggle to side issues of petty “reforms” on such questions as “untouchability,” though even here the evil of untouchability can only be destroyed as a result of the revolution; directed against imperialism and landlordism — with all its barbaric, caste-system; all that is retrogressive and reactionary in the structure of modern Indian society.
Certain attempts are being made by “Left” congress leaders like Bose, to build a new party. There are no reasons to believe that such a party will be a revolutionary party. Bose himself signed the Nehru Constitution of 1928, which was based on Dominion status, accepted the right of veto by the General-Governor and guaranteed by the Constitution, all titles of property, etc., i.e., guaranteed the preservation of landlordism, and all reactionary classes. Since then, Bose consistently supported Gandhi, with his non-violence theory and split the Trade Union Congress in Calcutta; in fact, he represented the “Left” national-reformism, which is responsible for the present state of affairs in the independence movement. Now Bose proposes to build a new party, but does not offer any suggestion for organizing immediate resistance to the White Paper. He puts forward the “theory” of a slump in the national independence movement, and says that the only task is to collect a body of leaders, and work out a scientific programme. This theory of a slump is an anti-revolutionary theory and does not correspond to the facts. It is sufficient to look at the strike movement, which is developing in Bombay and other places, and the support given to the general strike slogan.
The dissatisfaction of the peasantry is growing, and occasionally assumes a form of an agrarian uprising as in Alwar. The growing impoverishment and distress of the peasantry gives no ground for believing that its struggle against imperialists and landlords will decrease and a slump will set in; quite the contrary is true. The same process of growing revolutionary feeling can be seen among the wide sections of town poor and town petty bourgeoisie, as occurrences during the Allahabad hartal and the anniversary of the death of Azad clearly show. The Bose theory of a slump, with its conclusion of inactivity, is another form of helping the congress leadership to disrupt and disorganize the mass movement at the present time, and cannot be explained otherwise. The only concrete proposals for an immediate plan of action were put forward by the Indian Communist Party, and these are, first, to start to organize a wide campaign of protest against the Constitution, by means of meetings, demonstrations and strikes, mobilizing the workers, peasants, students and all those who stand for the independence of India; secondly, to support and organize a general strike on a country-wide scale, especially of railwaymen, putting forward economic and political demands; thirdly, to support the non-payment of rent, debts and taxes movement of the peasants and convert it into a country-wide struggle and; fourthly, to develop the movement for immediate release of all political prisoners including the Meerut comrades, terrorists and workers and peasants sentenced for their resistance to the oppressors.
The general left trend among the toiling masses compelled the Roy followers to undertake certain “Left” manoeuvres. Lately, they have begun to talk once more about unity, and preach devotion to the general strike slogan. At one time their “unity” meant unity with Joshi and Giri; they together disorganize the ranks of the workers. This unity failed because of the resistance of the workers, including those who follow the Roy group. Now they are again trying to mislead the workers, while mildly criticizing Jamnadas Mehta and Giri. There are no reasons to believe that the Roy followers have changed their reformist tactics. In G.I.P. they continue their splitting policy, they give support to Ruikar and carry on a struggle against the Communists; they disorganize the struggle of the workers. In one of the recent issues of Mahratta an article was published by one of the Roy followers against Jamnadas Mehta, in which it is admitted that the Nagpur split took place over a vital political issue of the boycott of the Whitley Commission. The “Left” national-reformists are compelled to admit that the Communists were correct, and that the position of the Roy group was, and is, the position of traitors to the independence movement. This is the result of the pressure of the rank and file workers of the Roy group; it shows that it becomes more and more difficult to fool the workers. But it also shows that the duty of the Communists is to increase their activity a hundred times more among the workers who follow the reformist leadership. It is the duty of the Communists to apply the tactics of the united front and to carry on consistent, patient, everyday work among the rank and file workers because this is the shortest way to develop class-consciousness, and to isolate the national-reformists, to destroy their influence and secure victory for the programme and leadership of the Communist Party. Many nationalists are now saying that the time has come to sum up the results of the last 12 years of the Gandhist policy and so on, and so forth. Yes, it is time. We can simply say, that the experience of world history, of the U.S.S.R. of China, etc., and the Indian independence movement shows that the only force which can and will lead the toiling masses of India to national and social emancipation is the working class, headed by the Communist party. The programme of the C.P.I. and the way to victory proposed by it, is the only programme and road towards the victory of the Indian revolution, and all who are true to the interests of the Indian people should give it their firm support.