The Genesis and Resolution of Economic-Social-Political Crises

The understanding that economic crises shall trigger social crises is correct. The inference that such social crises together with sustaining economic crises shall lead to political crises too is correct. While following this line of understanding, the only fallacy that may occur, can be the conclusion one may arrive at; that such social crises and political crises shall always by default bring in positive changes. The election results of five states especially the results of elections to Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand legislative assemblies, that have gone in favour of BJP; even after the ills of demonetization and communal conflicts, have once again proven this.

Interestingly, in India such political crises had been maturing (for other political parties) for a fairly long period because of the erroneous socio-economic policies. Such parties, especially the Congress, are still advocating these destructive economic policies and the doctrine of imperialist globalization. This has strategically weakened their credibility. Such exhaustion of political parties (sometimes temporary; and in sustenance, a strategic exhaustion) had taken its due course of time For example, the case of Congress.

I would like to draw your attention to the rise and fall of Indira Gandhi. She had been called 'Durga' by Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the time of India’s military victory over the then East Pakistan during the liberation of Bangladesh. Then came the first Pokhran nuclear test. She looked to be unstoppable; but, by 1973-74, the economic crisis had tarnished her image, despite the earlier achievements. The effects of Central Government Employees' strike and the Great Railway Strike were massive. These strikes demolished the image of Indira Gandhi. Then came the famous Allahabad High Court verdict that annulled her election, which also debarred her candidacy for six years. What we saw as the result of such political crisis was her quasi-fascist move to declare internal emergency and suspend the fundamental rights. In fact, this trend to transform democracy into quasi-fascism had been in the making in West Bengal under Siddhartha Shankar Ray for quite some time, ahead of Indira Gandhi's move.

The phenomena of political independence had made all the political parties to shoulder the new duties of parliamentary participation and executive rule and compelled to articulate their programmatic essence in the new phase in the new way. This had also added to the compulsions. The decisive fight against feudalism needed to be commanded with extremely agile manoeuvres within and without the parliament. However the communist party that sprinted through the 1940s and 1950s lost its pace in its march for agrarian revolution. It is vital to remember that Agrarian Revolution acted and still acts as the axis of the programme of Democratic Revolution. Along with this elemental shifts and splits within the movement also caused grave retardation.

This was within a span of 5 years. Economic crisis triggered social crisis and both together created political crisis; but, it brought quasi-fascism, not an opening for the liberation of masses.

Later, a collective work against the emergency rule led to the defeat of quasi-fascism; mainly finding its manifestation in the 1977 general election.

Now, looking back on that chain of historic events, I feel that, that was the springboard of transformation for the Bharatiya Jana Sangh into the Bharatiya Janata Party; the name they gave themselves through the baptism of anti-emergency struggle-saga in the legitimised organisational vehicle of Janata Party. Same was the springboard for the Socialists and Lokdal to come up in resurgence. (Comrade P. Sundarayya had warned that bringing up communal fascists to defeat quasi-fascism will be a fatal mistake of self-inflicting defeatism. He wanted the communist party to lead the resistance against quasi fascism.)

In essence, the upheaval in the latter half of 1970s began a new stream of developments that pushed congress and communist parties aside. Both Congress party's legacy of its Five Year Plan and the Communist party's legacy of agrarian struggles (which used to be the main theme of its strategic and tactical programmes and practices up to 50s and 60s) began to lose electoral glitter.

The next decade, the 1980s, witnessed economic crisis once again. To alleviate this crisis, the Indira Government borrowed from the IMF for the first time. Regionalism grew to demonic proportions, (Ex: Khalistan Separatism) and put an end to the rule of Indira. Both sangh and identity politics were forming muscle and flesh in this period. By the end of 1980s, these emerging trends pushed the Congress down; to be proper, strategically.

That is how the NF-LF Government became possible, after the Rajiv Gandhi Government. Here also the alternative was not created exclusively by proper forces. Both in 1977 and 1989 the alternative that was created had provided inclusive space for the Sangh. This had been a breather for the demon.

In this whole period the Indian economy was losing its propulsion; the propulsion that it gained from the first two Five year Plans and the premier policies of the first Indira Government, that consolidated finance, oil, trade etc. and had harnessed monopolies to an extend.

Why?

The social basis and the primary sector, agriculture, that largely determined the social basis, were being dragged all through the Jurassic-era-pains of feudalism. It bred and re-bred caste and its horrors. It allowed the co-existential growth of communal forces through bloody tournaments of riots. What was the real remedy? The remedy was agrarian revolution.

The agrarian revolution paradigm was (still is) of a thorough revolutionary change to end feudalism including its institutions of caste system, the regime of theocratic values and patriarchal familial and social structures. A revolutionary churning of the society to recreate human life in novel relations of production and reproduction was its vital content; and, no part of this content was (is) inseparable. The chief agency to do this was (is) obviously the Communist Parties. Could they do it?

Well, their appearance in that scene became feeble after 1951. The reason was mainly the necessary compulsion of the Communist Parties to participate in electoral politics which limited the scope of struggles within legislative forums such as the Parliament and Legislative Assemblies; that is in the course of process of legislation and executive rule. As the first general exercise of universal franchise had started on 25 October 1951 and 27 March 1952, the downtrodden sections including the peasantry were enthusiastic to be part of it. The hope that it generated had to be reckoned with. This was a new theatre of struggle; quite extraneous to the paradigm of the all out struggle against feudalism that the party had been leading in rural India. So, a new tactical line was initiated of which the published part came to be known as the 1951 Policy Declaration. As differences arose within the party in later years, this Policy Declaration was set aside. Empiricism began to gain upper hand and the agrarian struggles aiming an agrarian revolution began to lose its tempo. The phenomena of political independence had made all the political parties to shoulder the new duties of parliamentary participation and executive rule and compelled to articulate their programmatic essence in the new phase in the new way. This had also added to the compulsions. The decisive fight against feudalism needed to be commanded with extremely agile manoeuvres within and without the parliament. However the communist party that sprinted through the 1940s and 1950s lost its pace in its march for agrarian revolution. It is vital to remember that Agrarian Revolution acted (and still acts) as the axis of the programme of Democratic Revolution. Along with this elemental shifts and splits within the movement also caused grave retardation.

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The next resurgence, in late 1960s and in early 1970s, was marred with flaws that were nearly irredeemable in the immediate future. The result was devastating. Major chunk fell prey to parliamentarism and the rest to adventurism. The parliamentary deviation blurred the will to venture for the protracted and strenuous task of agrarian revolution. It liked to believe in the primacy of the route of governmental reforms to do the chief jobs of agrarian revolution.

The empirical reason for this anchoring on reforms, especially land reforms, came from the success of the decisive land reforms implementation, emphatically begun by the EMS government in 1957 in Kerala, when undivided CPI came to office winning the first state legislative election there. This became possible because of a number of peculiar positive aspects in the state of Kerala, which were the fruits of the anti-feudal struggles consciously developed by the Communist Party in the 1940s. These anti-feudal struggles were the concrete maturing of the renaissance movement of the 19th century. This was very particular in the development of the state of Kerala.

Anyhow at that point of time, this was not the case in the majority of states in the country. The level of maturity of social struggles, especially that of anti feudal land struggles, were not at all at par with the developments in Kerala. Though Andhra Pradesh had been an exception, many other economical and socio-political factors of other states were not as much in favour of the governmental-reform-route success, as was the case in Kerala. Concrete planning of agrarian programme and handling of tactical diversities had to be dealt with at length in all those states. The strength for this great endeavour was lacking within the communist movement at that juncture. Neither had it enough steam to surpass the turbulent waters when we measure the seasoned cadre line up of that time, that the mammoth task demanded.

On the other hand, the adventurists lost the coherence of comprehension and correct application of the strategy and tactics of a scientific agrarian revolution. They got intoxicated by the idea of armed revolution that they believed to be the only weapon capable of drawing the bloody line of permanent demarcation with the draconian world of feudalism. Both ways, the programmatic path of agrarian revolution had been abandoned.

Did these negative lessons from history make the programmatic theme and the project of agrarian revolution historically extinct?

No.

Instead, it has gained importance all the more, especially when the social bed has got further infested by wider communal and caste divisions; and, capital penetration has got intensified along with the tightening octopus grip of the finance capital on the whole economy, by way of integration. The theme and project of agrarian revolution has graduated to the second phase; from the phase of anti feudal phase to that of the finance capital penetration. Now it has to fight the socio-economic and political evils of both the phases because, the first phase has not been resolved in a revolutionary way; that is, by completing annihilation of caste and by achieving secular social stability.

So, a determined, protracted and scientific struggle to manifest a re-defined programme of Agrarian Revolution, impregnated with the necessary vital elements of collective and social modes of production (such as producing co-operatives by farmers and workers like Peasants' Producing Co-Operative Societies and Workers' Producing Co-Operatives plus Public Sector ventures in rural agro based industrialisation), hand in hand with concurrent democratic institutions (such as Local Self Government bodies), is the remedial move to pot the fiends of casteist and communal divides, along with the carnages and innumerable perils that such fiends cause. That process will back the working class struggles to fight the anti-worker, anti-peasant policies as well. Together this will provide the axis of social change that will enthuse and rally the secular and democratic forces to form a great and united upheaval; this time without allowing any kind of communal casteist divisive forces to find inclusive spaces in it.

Only such a great upheaval can create basic changes of economic, social and political character that will help to establish our republic firmly.

The characteristic traits and possible trajectories of the courses of developments that get emanated from economic crises that trigger social crises and further translate into political crises are as sketched above, albeit briefly. So, as history has proven time and again, we have to reckon that such courses of crises never bring in happy results by default. Unless and until conscious political interventions by correct political forces manifest, such systemic crises will bring up socio-political demons and the resulting pernicious perils.