11 November 2007

40 Years of Che’s Martyrdom

On October 9, 1967 Che Guevara, an Argentinian doctor who was one of the key architects of the Cuban revolution, was captured and executed in Bolivia by CIA-trained Bolivian soldiers. But the CIA could not kill Che’s spirit. Che’s 40th death anniversary was marked by a huge gathering of thousands of people from across Latin America to pay tribute to Che’s life and his death as a model revolutionary internationalism and anti-imperialism. The anti-imperialist and democratic upsurge that is sweeping Latin America is a true tribute to Che; left-wing governments in Venezuela and Bolivia are joining hands with Cuba to unite, share resources and social services and challenge imperialism. In tribute to Che, we reproduce excerpts from Che’s writings that describe with remarkable humility Cuba’s efforts to sustain its revolution in the face of an imperialist offensive, and which offer the hope to other Latin American countries the possibility of unity, freedom and revolution. On August 8, 1961, a ministerial meeting of the Inter-American Economic and Social Council (CIES), sponsored by the Organization of American States (OAS) was held at Uruguay, where the head of the US delegation presented Washington’s ‘Alliance for Progress’ for official ratification – a deliberate attempt to rally Latin American nations against Cuba. Che’s speech as the representative of the Cuban government was a brilliant expose of the US’ real fear of the effect of...

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Lessons of the November Revolution

[November 7 (October 24 according to the old Julien calendar) is the 90th Anniversary of the historic Bolshevik November Revolution of 1917. In tribute to its legacy we reproduce a passage from Lenin in which he describes the initial arduous process of socialist construction in Russia. This passage reminds us that Lenin is keenly aware of the immense challenge posed by this task; the inherent dangers not just of a counter-revolutionary assault but of the insidious yet “enormous force of habit and conservatism” that had a material basis in the “numerous survivals of small-scale production”.] …It was natural and inevitable in the first period after the proletarian revolution that we should be engaged primarily on the main and fundamental task of overcoming the resistance of the bourgeoisie, of vanquishing the exploiters, of crushing their conspiracy (like the “slave-owners’ conspiracy” to surrender Petrograd, in which all from the Black Hundreds and Cadets to the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries were involved). But simultaneously with this task, another task comes to the forefront just as inevitably and ever more imperatively as time goes on, namely, the more important task of positive communist construction, the creation of new economic relations, of a new society. … the dictatorship of the proletariat is not only the use of force against the exploiters, and not even mainly the use of force. The economic foundation of this use...

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Little to Choose Between Mindless Terrorism and Cynical Imperialism

(In the context of the recent blasts in Karachi, noted columnist with Dawn Jawed Naqvi recalls the role of US imperialism in fuelling terror in the sub-continent and discusses the futility of allying with the US ‘war on terror.’) Jawaharlal Nehru’s pledge of independence on 26th January 1930 can even today inspire any populist leader in South Asia, including of course Benazir Bhutto, who was the target of a devastating terrorist attack in Karachi on Thursday night. There is a strange passage in the speech where Nehru says: “Compulsory disarmament has made us unmanly and the presence of an alien army of occupation, employed with deadly effect to crush in us the spirit of resistance, has made us think that we cannot look after ourselves or put up a defence against foreign aggression, or even defend our brothers and families from the attacks of thieves, robbers and miscreants.” The point here is that if the proud people of India, on whose behalf Nehru was surely speaking, were made ‘unmanly’ because the colonial state took away their means of ‘resistance’ why did he not give those rights to the citizens in the evidently independent India? The answer perhaps lies in the fact that no state, colonial or post-colonial, is willing to see itself as an oppressor of its own subjects or citizens. On the contrary, it strives to take monopoly...

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Interview with Leading Venezuelan Trade Unionist Ruben Linares

(While in Denmark for the Danish Social Forum, Saurobijay interviewed Venezuelan trade-union leader Ruben Linares about unfolding developments and debates in Venezuela.) Saurobijay: What is the mood among the Venezuelan masses towards struggle against imperialism? Ruben: The masses are motivated, looking out for a social justice. The masses begin to understand that many of the earlier reforms are attacked by imperialism and their ally. One of the biggest things that are achieved through struggle is getting subsidised medical assistance in the neighbourhoods. Local communities begin to feel that they can have the power to control their everyday lives. Saurobijay: What is the mood of the masses towards the new party – PSUV formed by Chavez? Ruben: The masses started rallying on this new party PSUV. Chavez has given a call “Form the Party from below” and it has found echo among the masses. They started feeling that they can construct their own party. On 13th October the first national congress of the party will be held, where there will be national debate on how to form this party. Saurobijay: Please tell something about the role of the working class? Ruben: The working class started to play its role in the movement. You cannot have socialism without the participation of the working class. Saurobijay: How in general the leadership of UNT and rank and file reacts towards joining the new...

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Support The Heroic Battle of Myanmarese People for Democracy!

“We have strategic and economic interests to protect in Myanmar. It is up to the Myanmarese people to struggle for democracy.” – Pranab Mukherjee, Foreign Minister, UPA Government “We value our growing military relations with Myanmar” – outgoing Army Chief JJ Singh On the streets of Myanmar, Buddhist monks are at the forefront of a remarkable upsurge against the military dictatorship. They – and anyone who is seen with them – are being crushed ruthlessly with bludgeons and bullets. Recently, a Japanese photographer covering one of the peaceful demonstrations was shot dead in cold blood by the Myanmarese military. This isn’t the first time blood has flowed on the streets of Myanmar. The pro-democracy movement in Myanmar has kept alive despite harsh, cruel, unrelenting repression. During the 1988 movement, the dictatorship was reeling under the impact of strikes in the oil industry, transport, postal services, telecommunications and factories, as well as widespread protests; and brutal and bloody repression was unable to end it. The dictatorship managed to cling to power by striking a deal with the main political opposition, the NLD, to end the protests in return for elections in 1990. Having staved off the uprising, the generals rejected the outcome of the elections, suppressed the opposition and continued in power. NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi was elected in a landslide victory – but has spent most of...

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Some Reports

Conference in London Highlights Contemporary Parallels with 1857 War of Independence A one day conference was held in London on Saturday 6 October to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the 1857 uprising. Speakers from India and Pakistan addressing this conference drew parallels with the current situation in South Asia today. Organised by South Asia Solidarity Group, the 1857 Committee and the Centre for South Asian Studies, SOAS, the conference ‘1857/2007 Imperialism, Race, Resistance’ drew more than 120 participants. Speakers included Indian human rights lawyer Nandita Haksar, feminist educationalist Rubina Saigol from Pakistan; historian and writer on colonialism and patriarchy Kumkum Sangari, Editor of Indian CPI(ML) monthly Liberation Kavita Krishnan; spokesperson of Cageprisoners (the campaign for prisoners in Guantanamo) Adnan Siddiqui; eminent civil-liberties lawyer Gareth Peirce; Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation spokesperson Hani Lazim, and historian and writer on British imperialism John Newsinger. The conference looked at 1857 as one of the high points of continuing popular anti-imperialist resistance, in which people identifying with different communities and religions but sharing many aspects of culture consciously came together to resist an aggressively racist colonial power. Against this background, contemporary imperialism, racism and the rise of the religious right, and the struggles against them in South Asia and here in Britain were discussed. Professor Kumkum Sangari highlighted the way in which the British colonialists involved in suppressing the uprising recorded and relished their...

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Draft Agrarian Programme

Preamble Agriculture continues to be a key component of our economy. Even as the contribution of agriculture to India’s GDP has dropped to less than 20%, more than half of India’s population – nearly three-fourths of India’s rural population – still remains engaged in this sector. Agrarian revolution is the axis of democratic revolution in India and the land question is the basic question of this revolution. Advancing the struggle of the rural proletariat and the peasantry to abolish landlordism and other feudal remnants thoroughly, free agriculture from the domination of big capital and the stranglehold of imperialism and transform all social relations and political institutions – this constitutes the essence of the agrarian question. Our approach to the agrarian question in general and to specific peasant demands in particular is to facilitate development of class struggle in the countryside. Subordinating every demand to the advancement of class struggle against the landlord-kulak nexus in the countryside is the central point in the agrarian question. Tireless efforts are needed to promote the alliance between the class-conscious proletariat and the revolutionary peasantry while preparing for the inevitable high tide of peasant struggles. As the Communist International had pointed out, “The proletariat is a really revolutionary class and acts in a really Socialist manner only when it comes out and acts as the vanguard of all the working and exploited people, as...

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8th Congress Draft Documents : GENERAL PROGRAMME

(The Eighth Congress of the CPI(ML) is to be held at Kolkata, 10-18 December 2007. In this issue of Liberation, we carry the Draft General Programme and the Draft Agrarian Programme for perusal by readers.) Preamble The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) is the highest political organisation of the Indian proletariat fighting for realising its supreme class mission. It comprises the advanced detachments of the people and serves as the core of leadership of the people of all nationalities in India in their struggle against feudal remnants, big capital and imperialism. Beginning with the minimum programme of accomplishing new democratic revolution in India, the Party dedicates itself to the maximum programme of bringing about socialist transformation and communism, to the ultimate aim of abolition of all kinds of exploitation of man by man. The Party derives its world outlook from Marxist philosophy and accepts the integrated system of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought as its guide to action. To develop the correct line of Indian revolution, the Party wages a relentless battle against reformism, revisionism, liquidationism, bourgeois liberalism, anarchism and all other alien ideas, both inside and outside the Party. The Party upholds and practises proletarian internationalism and opposes imperialism, hegemonism, colonialism, expansionism, racism, chauvinism, aggression and domination of every kind in international relations. It cherishes unity with all revolutionary communist, socialist and workers’ parties and organisations in different...

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Karnataka: Betrayal of the Masses

In Karnataka, ‘Swamijis’ are turning into politicians while politicians are queuing behind astrologers. Pejawar Mutt Swamiji of Udupi, who belongs to a Lingayat mutt, is taking an active part in installing a BJP-JD(S) government in the state. He is also prepared to rope in the services of few more Swamijis in the attempt. The corporate media and political pundits are cautioning of a possible ‘backlash’ from the powerful Lingayat community if the JD(S) does not honour its agreement of transferring power to the BJP. One is not sure if they really mean a backlash from a community or from a section of industrial mafias in mining and real estate businesses. The Congress, once ditched by the very same JD(S) 20 months back, is weighing its options of fresh elections, horse-trading and forming a good old JD(S)-Congress coalition government. It is also keenly watching the national situation to see if there are chances of snowballing into mid-term elections. The party expects a situation of simultaneous elections to the state and the centre to be more beneficial to the party in the state. The Congress is biding time as immediate elections in the state may not go in its favour in the backdrop of its not-so-impressive or poor performance in the recently concluded municipal elections. The Congress is also a little worried of unnecessarily carrying an anti-incumbency factor to the next...

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Securing Judicial Accountability

Freedom of Speech Vs. Contempt Towards an Independent Judicial Commission (This article was the background paper prepared by Prashant Bhushan for a Seminar on Judicial Accountability that took place on 13/10/07 at Delhi) The judiciary in the country today has come to enjoy enormous powers. It is not only the arbiter of disputes between citizens, between citizens and the State, between States and the Union, it also in purported exercise of powers to enforce fundamental rights, directs the governments to close down industries, commercial establishments, demolish jhuggis, remove hawkers and rickshaw pullers from the streets, prohibits strikes and bandhs etc. In short, it has come to be the most powerful institution of the State. Every other institution of the State is accountable to the anti corruption agencies, and to the judiciary which has the power of judicial review over every executive and legislative action. Moreover, the political executive is accountable to the legislature and the legislature is democratically accountable to the people-that at least is the theory of our constitutional scheme. However, when it comes to the judiciary, we find that it is neither democratically accountable to the people, nor to any other institution. The only recourse against a judge committing judicial misconduct is impeachment, which has been found to be a totally impractical remedy. To initiate the impeachment process one needs the signatures of 100 Lok Sabha or...

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Food Movement-2007 in West Bengal

It was 16 February 1966. A young 12 year-old boy was in the procession along with his schoolmates and teachers who were demanding kerosene oil from a fair-price shop. Hundreds of students of Basirhat area (in 24 Parganas) came out on the streets as they could not continue their study after sunset due to non-availability of kerosene oil from ration shops. Not only Basirhat, Baduria, Hingalganj of 24 Parganas, but 38,000 villages of West Bengal witnessed the same situation for months together. Basirhat-Swarupnagar area had a glorious history of the Tebhaga movement which taught them, unless you get organised and start agitation, you would not get a single litre of kerosene oil. So, the agitation started on 16 February. When the students took out the procession, they were immediately surrounded by a heavy contingent of police forces. It was the time of the Congress regime. Prafulla Sen was the Congress Chief Minister who took lessons from another Congress Chief Minister Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy who taught them that processions and agitations should be tackled with ‘tough hands.’ Prafulla Sen had his own experiences of tackling lakhs of hungry processionists in Calcutta in 31 August 1959, because he was the Food Minister of Dr. Roy’s cabinet during those turbulent days of the late ’50s. Dr. Roy, Mr. Kali Mukherjee (Home-Police minister) and Prafulla Sen’s police forces killed 80 hungry people...

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The Obnoxious Nexus that Killed Rizwanur in ‘Secular and Progressive’ Bengal

We all know how caste panchayats try to stop inter-caste marriages in the interiors of North-Western India. They hold kangaroo courts and deliver instant and exemplary ‘justice’ hoping such brutal acts would deter all potential ‘deviants’ to try and cross caste boundaries. We also know how freedom of expression often attracts lethal fatwas. But we always tend to think that such incidents happen beyond the realm of our liberal and democratic ‘mainstream’ – either in some remote feudal badland or only in a fundamentalist culture! And we are told such fundamentalism flourishes only in Madrasas and Masjids. But what happens when a young Muslim man from the world of computers and graphics designing decides to marry a Hindu girl he loves? And that too in progressive cosmopolitan Kolkata, the capital of Left-ruled West Bengal? Well, as Rizwanur Rahman discovered and we all have discovered through his experience, such a marriage is considered a taboo by the rich and the powerful, a ‘crime’ which needs to be punished with nothing short of murder. It is perhaps not difficult to understand that industrialist Ashok Todi, whose daughter Priyanka had legally married Rizwanur in the month of August, could never agree to this marriage. But what is really shocking is that the police took it upon itself to do Todi’s bidding and ‘free’ Priyanka. And imagine the extent to which the top...

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Neither an Instant N-Deal nor a ‘Paused’ One – Scrap the Deal altogether!

The impasse between the UPA Government and its Left allies over the Nuke Deal seems to have come to a sudden end with an apparent climb-down by the Congress; for the time being the Government seems safe and the prospect of mid-term polls seems to have receded. The US-led nuclear establishment, the Congress and the UPA Government – all have made a dramatic turn-about in their stance. Will they ever come clear on this sudden nuclear somersault? Last month, the US Ambassador was admonishing India saying “Time is of essence.” Now, we have IAEA chief El Baradei telling India to take its time, since there is no timeframe to operationalise the deal. The PMO had said time and again that Manmohan Singh was willing to stake his credibility and the life of his government on the deal –but now the PM himself has said with philosophical resignation that there are issues beyond the nuke deal, that if the deal falls through he will be disappointed but “one has to live with disappointments and move on.” Just a few days before this change of stance, Sonia Gandhi had declared that opponents of the Deal were enemies of development. But now she has said that the Left must not be castigated as anti-national; they had their ideology which must be respected in the interests of “coalition dharma.” What lies behind this...

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Pakistan’s Yearning for Democracy and Freedom from US Dictates

Benazir Bhutto’s return to Pakistan has been marked by the worst ever incident of suicide bombing in the recent history of the subcontinent, killing and injuring hundreds of innocent people. Soon after the incident Benazir said that she had been warned by intelligence agencies of a ‘brotherly country’ regarding a possible attack on her arrival. Regardless of whatever input might have been provided by intelligence agencies, it is not difficult to understand what possibly triggered such an enormous tragedy. “Join the war on terror or be bombed back to the Stone Age” was the ‘option’ given to Pakistan in the wake of 9/11 by none other than Richard Armitage, then US Secretray of State. Pakistan under President Musharraf has dutifully heeded that advice and the bombings have never really stopped. The popular mood on the Pakistani street and the direction chosen by the country’s ruling elite are so diametrically opposite that the conflict can indeed explode anytime anywhere. And with no credible democratic process to reflect this public anger, suicide bombings and terrorist attacks find an obviously fertile ground. The ongoing convulsions in Pakistan emanate from two closely interrelated concerns. With Iraq and Afghanistan bleeding so profusely under US occupation, the average Pakistani’s sympathy clearly lies with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and Musharraf’s policy of compliance and active collaboration with the US naturally remains a source of...

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