Comrade Alok Mukherjee, has put up a post on facebook which deals with Ambedkar and his evaluation. Though comrade Mukherjee has in the beginning of his statement, clarified that facebook post is not a platform for evaluation of personalities. We agree with comrade Mukherjee’s stand, yet such posts and statements published on social media do provide pointers to one’s political viewpoint and stand. For person like comrade Mukherjee, who has been a known face of the Indian Communist movement, since his days as one of the central leaders of CPI(ML) PCC and CPI(ML) Janshakti. Now a Central leader of CPI(ML) Class Struggle, (Kanu Sanyal group) his words carry weight and also merits serious reading.
He says that “I shall only put forward how to look at such historically important issues which have a bearing for the present. Because to me history is not abstract materials put together .Excuse me I am not going to quote Marx etal to strengthen my point” We fully again agree with him, and it is a futile exercise to quote the words of Marx or for that matter any of the master, as scripture and dogma. But not quoting Marx and not following Marxist methodology are two different things, and we are sure that comrade Mukherjee would agree with us.
History and lessons derived from it holds immense importance, it is not an exercise in isolation to suit one’s intellectual pleasure, but is an attempt to understand the present political system. Past cannot be understood exclusively or primarily based on concrete events, but it is an abstraction from the universal experience. This applies even when we are assessing a personality.
So when one is evaluating Ambedkar or for that matter any one the concrete has to be understood both in form of abstraction as well as the then prevailing circumstances of that time.
It is no secret that Ambedkar was never impressed by the ideology of Marxism. He stood for liberalism and his ideas never changed till last.
But that doesn’t diminishes his importance, in the same way as one certainly finds gem of knowledge in writings from ancient Indian/Greek philosophers and even in theorists like Adam Smith, Ricardo or Hegel to name a few The thinkers who enriched the treasure of Marxism, all took ideas from the thinkers of the past. But, they never tried to portray them as being part of their ideological camp.
Today, then why this attempt to portray Ambedkar as someone who was close to Marxism? What purpose does it solve?
One should read Ambedkar, and even take his ideas on caste and Indian society in consideration, which is necessary for formulating the caste question. But so should be considered the ideas of Gandhi, Phule and even the various reformist leaders of the freedom struggle. So, would we call all of them supporters of Marxism? This would be nothing but chicanery.
Ambedkar had a different view which made him cross swords with the then revolutionary CPI, his views revolved around immediate reforms rather than materialism. That makes Marxism different from his ideology. This conflict of ideas were manifested on various occasions and are well documented.
The weakened Communist movement has suddenly realised that in those historical debates, the CPI was wrong and he was right.
Comrade Mukherjee mentions that Dr. Ambedkar, was able to rally the entire dalits though he lost both the elections that he contested. In many dalit circle his defeat is also attributed to CPI and Dange!
Ambedkar had no qualms in taking support of Congress or Muslim League to enter the ‘temple of democracy’. The parliamentary system of the UK and US were the only two democratic institutions that he referred to, while opining on the structure of democratic government. Just, for the uninitiated, at that time Soviet Union was building a democratic structure, completely different from the ones that were in existence.
The entire edifice of Ambedkar’s ideas revolved around the notion of social welfare and reform. In fact his ideas found a fertile ground in the identity politics that emerged in the later decades and one that was co-opted by the state easily.
That is why Charu is still considered as a leader of the terrorist gang and Telangana is portrayed as, movement instigated by the Communists by deceiving the gullible farmers. The fighters of telangana came from tribal and dalit background, so were the guerilla fighters of Naxal movement in the plains of Bihar. Yet, it has become fashionable to say that Communists never took up Dalit issue seriously. So then why the massive support base that thronged to the left parties when they had not abdicated the revolutionary ideology. The rot started when tailism became a practice. This is also a lesson that we take from history.
Comrade Mukherjee makes another statement, that we wish to quote before progressing further, “But there are followers of Ambedkar who through their experiences of struggle against casteism have come to the understanding that the struggle for abolition or annihilation of caste in present India cannot be successful if it is delinked from struggle for abolition of class.”
We read this line several times. The question which strikes again and again in our mind is that really this is happening. Exceptions can’t prove the rule wrong, there might be some from the Ambedkarite camp who have come to this conclusion but can this be said for the greater majority of the fellow travellers of Ambedkarism. There are instances where some followers of RSS turned towards Marxism, but can we say that this is a general phenomenon? We leave it to the discretion of the readers.
Caste questions was there in some form or other in the communist discourse. The 1930 draft programme of action of CPI, had devoted a section on caste question and had given a call to eradicate untouchability and caste oppression along with peasant revolution and anti imperialist struggle. Though this along with its other revolutionary content was soon derailed.
It is true that the movement had not given that much focus which caste question merits, though we cannot say attempts were not made. Even CPM on BTRs theise made attempts to have a line formulated on caste question, same was done in CPI ML, which in its Party Congress of 1970 had tried formulating a line. But we can say today that these attempts were few and far between. The movement definitely had to pay a heavy price for its lack of clear formulation of politics on this issue. But that is a separate topic of discussion.
But we cannot say that since Communists do not have a clear line on caste question, so let’s go to the side of Ambedkar and understand it via the prism of Ambedkarism. When 2nd international had jettisoned Marxism but in name, Lenin did not ally with Narodnics or the economists. So why this urge of our comrades today?
That brings us to the slogan of Jai Bheem-Lal Salam, we would have welcomed this slogan and raised it with full vigour, had it come to us from the Ambedkarite camp. But this slogan was not coined by epigones of Dr Ambedkar neither was it coined in consonance with them. It is a slogan that comes from the Left camp (name it revisionists, social democrats or whatever). It is not them but we who have created this slogan and hence it is a slogan of not revolution but desperation. That is why we cannot support it. It is a slogan that reminds us of defeat, desperation and delusion.
That is why we oppose the slogan Jai Bheem-Lal Salam.
The post of Comrade Alok Mukherjee, which was forwarded to us by a senior comrade.
At first I would like to beg pardon for writing in English. But I think sometimes it becomes a torture to force people to read Bengali in Roman script. Secondly I feel that facebook is not a platform for evaluation of personalities like Ambedkar, Gandhi, Phule, Periyar, Dange and even Bankimchandra. More so for comparison between them. That is why I am not going to put references and all that because it is often found people forget some points which are forcefully put and when a concrete proof for the opposite comes the point is simply ignored without a word of self correction. I shall only put forward how to look at such historically important issues which have a bearing for the present. Because to me history is not abstract materials put together .Excuse me I am not going to quote Marx etal to strengthen my point because that is often used not as something to develop our understanding but to put either to silence potential opponents or to distract the discussion into fight between quotations. However I feel history is something to look at the past standing at the present with an eye to future. History and evaluation of historical events and characters differs accordingly ..This is very much in evidence in perceptions of history in mediaeval India. Let us come to an example of very recent times. Comrade Charu Majumder made many grave mistakes even by telling””our class -landless poor peasantry.””Many people go to the extent of declaring a non Marxist let alone those who call him a betrayer. But not only in Bengal or lndia but also iternatinally he is acclaimed a revolutionary Marxist. Nobody cares for dissection of his this or that action . Everybody treats him as a leader who had a vision for armed revolution under the leadership of the communist party and the importance of peasantry in that revolution. Once more I say this is not an evaluation of Charu Majumder but just an example. Similarly Ambedkar with all his limitations led the depressed classes, at that time this is how Ambedkar defined the opressed castes, to stand up as a social force in the political arena . And it was not limited to any particular area but in the political field of India. The oppressed castes amassed around him because it was he who could make them dream of becoming equal to the upper castes True that was not and is not possible without a social revolution But Ambedkar was dreaming to achieve it through a constitutional method. But in this point all other parties were at loggerheads to Ambedkar. But such was Ambedkar’s strength,again not personal,and influence all over India he could not be pushed aside. He was made the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution by Nehru . I am not going to discuss how was it a tactical move or not. But it could bound Ambedkar into the shell of The Constitution even though he declared through this Indians are achieving political equaliy (which he felt as a constitutional democrat )but economic and social inequality still persists, unless equally is achieved in those fields there will be Soviet type of revolution. He advocated state socialism for economic development. True the ruling classes and their henchmen within the dalits try to take away the struggling side of Ambedkar by depicting him only as an author of Indian Constitution. But there are followers of Ambedkar who through their experiences of struggle against casteism have come to the understanding that the struggle for abolition or annihilation of caste in present India cannot be successful if it is delinked from struggle for abolition of class. The same is true for the communalists in India. For a long time even after the most correct analysis of the genesis of class, its role in framing the social structure and the necessity of abolition of caste system,they distanted themselves,let alone organising,from the struggles in the interests of the dalits. Now that hangover is gone Communists are also feel the necessity of linking class struggle with caste struggle. In this positive atmosphere if people who have great ww respect forAmbedkar change their salutation from only JAI BHIM to JAI BHIM LAL SELAM communists should welcome it. T