Friday, August 26, 2005

THE MAOIST THREAT, EDITORIAL The Statesman

By Jr Mukherjee

Marx in the Communist Manifesto broadly spelt out the following major aspects for the Communist Revolution: dialectical materialism (progress through the collision of thoughts and events), historical materialism (effects of dominance of social classes over laws, culture and happenings), class struggle and dictatorship of the proletariat. Lenin added four concepts: concept of the Communist Party for class struggle and seizure of power, democratic centralism devised to prevent factionalism, a rural proletariat, and a United Front to unite the revolutionary struggle.
Mao accepted the combined Marxist-Leninist philosophy. He, however, modified it by showing that the revolution was best achieved through the strategy of protracted guerrilla warfare — initially by a small group through hit and run surprise actions from secure bases in difficult terrain.

Guerrilla army
This would be progressively expanded to a guerrilla army, operating from secure bases, which would be expanded to a revolutionary base zone, that had popular support. This would ultimately expand into a People’s Army, which would then take control of population centres. This was the strategy followed by him for China.
Shortly after Mao’s Communist Guerrilla Army staged a revolution and took over the reins of power in China, and China joined the Eastern Bloc, there was an upsurge of guerrilla (insurgent) movements all over the world. Maoist China actively propagated, sponsored and supported Communist insurgencies in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Some countries in South America and Africa were similarly affected. In Europe and Japan there was an upsurge of terrorist activity by groups such as the Baader Meinhoff Gang, the Red Army, the Red Brigade and so on. The insurgent groups followed Maoist ideology with the exception of Japan and Europe, where it was plain and simple terrorism targeted at capitalistic ideology in the affected states with support from the Eastern Bloc.
While Communist-sponsored insurgencies and terrorism in most of these states faded away owing to a combination of factors — economic progress, dialogue, stoppage of foreign support and counter-insurgency/terrorist operations over a period of time — this has not happened in India, Nepal, Philippines and some countries in South America and Africa. India’s problems of insurgency and terrorism have unfortunately not faded away on account of socio-economic deprivation, poor governance and extensive foreign support in the form of China’s, Pakistan’s and Bangladesh’s proxy war through their support to insurgent and terrorist groups in India. Nepal finds itself in a similar situation.

Three categories
In India we have three distinct categories of terrorism and insurgency.
First, the north-east insurgent groups are demanding either autonomy or independence. While they all apply Mao’s philosophy of guerrilla war and follow a socialist philosophy, their ideology and aims are different to the Maoists. They can be classified as insurgents who at times resort to acts of terrorism. They are, however, being actively supported by Pakistan, Bangladesh and China (though officially denied by them). They are also reported to have links with the LTTE.
Second, the jehadi groups are being used by Pakistan and of late by Bangladesh to fight their proxy war, aimed at defeating and dismembering India. They are allied to the International Islamic Movement (IIM) which targets states they perceive to be unjust to Muslims the world over. Their ideology is again not Maoist; they have however borrowed some of Mao’s concepts of guerrilla war.
The third category consists of Maoists waging a people’s war against the State, based on Mao’s concepts of staging a revolution to take over the reins of power. They have no faith in parliamentary democracy. They claim that it has failed to alleviate the lot of the masses, is capitalist and imperialist. Even other categories of communism are considered to be capitalist and imperialist. In India they were earlier called Naxalites derived from a place called Naxalbari in West Bengal where the Naxalite movement took root in the sixties.
The Maoists of Nepal and India are closely interlinked and support each other fairly extensively. They are also reported to have close links with North-East insurgent groups and are apparently getting external support from China, Pakistan and Bangladesh. This is more than apparent from the large numbers of modern weapons possessed by them. The arms and ammunition are quite obviously being smuggled in through China/Nepal border and Bangladesh.
At the time of independence we had a single Communist Party of India (CPI) with its ideology borrowed from Soviet Russia. The influence of Mao’s philosophy on Indian communism can be traced to the Telengana armed struggle of 1946-51. In spite of Mao’s philosophy being at its infancy, the communists of Telengana in the face of bitter opposition from the CPI, upheld the relevance of his theories of a classless New Democracy through armed insurrection by peasants. This more or less led to divisions in the CPI. The first change in the CPI that occurred in the early fifties was that it accepted the path of peaceful transition to socialism being then propagated by Stalin. This resulted in major discontent within the party as Andhra, Bengal and Bihar were already in the initial throes of revolutionary violence. Matters came to a head during the Indo-China War of 1962, when nationalistic issues came into conflict with Marxist-Leninism and Maoist ideology. We consequently saw a split in the CPI, with the CPI (Marxist) coming into being which tried to tow a line independent of both Russia and China.

Arch enemies
Meanwhile, Maoist China and the Soviet Union had become arch enemies to the extent of even having large-scale border skirmishes. To complicate problems further, the cold war between the East and the West was at its peak; Pakistan had joined the western camp and also befriended Maoist China. India was then left with no option but to join hands with the Soviet-led Eastern Bloc. Our dispute with China coupled with our having allied with Soviet Union resulted in the Chinese proclaiming India to be public enemy number one along with the USSR and the West. Maoist China therefore made it a point to actively support all insurrections in India, particularly the Naxalite movement.
All these events contributed to a further split in the CPI (Marxist), with extremist factions that had restarted a violent armed struggle in Bengal (Naxalite Uprising), Andhra, Bihar, Kerala, Orissa and UP insisting on Mao’s ideology of armed insurrection. These factions broke away and in 1969 formed the various factions of the CPI Marxist-Leninist. This Maoist uprising spread like wildfire and there was armed insurrection led by their cadres almost all over India though the strongholds then were Andhra, Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and UP. This uprising was put down with a heavy hand; particularly by the United Front governments of the communist parties in West Bengal and Kerala. The Maoists went underground but have since managed to rejuvenate and expand since the causes for discontent are yet to be suitably addressed.

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