Saturday, 14 March 2015

Lost and Disoriented, Stalinists Return to Blind Alley of Popular Frontism, Form AIPF

-Rajesh Tyagi/ 15.3.2015

Defeated and isolated completely in recent past, various Stalinist parties, groups and leaders have come together to float a popular front under the banner of All India Peoples’ Forum (AIPF).

The Forum, that alongside the Stalinists of various shades, includes a whole stream of petty-bourgeois organisations, from Royists to communal Sikh Youth Forum and religious heads, is having its convention on 14-15 March in New Delhi.

As a direct concession to its petty-bourgeois constituents, the founding document published by the AIPF, completely omits to mention the working class, revolution or socialism. Instead, it resorts to empty and meaningless petty-bourgeois rhetoric 'to defend and expand democracy', 'Indian Peoples' battle for comprehensive democracy, dignity and justice' and similar jingles to appeal to sections of middle class.

AIPF is organized upon initiative of Stalinist CPI ML (Liberation) Party.  Liberation had earlier ventured into such opportunism of popular frontism in 1982 under the banner of Indian Peoples’ Front (IPF). The program of the IPF had proclaimed its mission “to organise the democratic forces on the basis of a popular, democratic and patriotic programme”.

In its all India womens’ convention at Calcutta, held in 1986, the IPF leaders, eager to boost their move by recklessly roping in various petty-bourgeois movements, made opportunist declaration, “Marxism and feminism were not antagonistic but complementary ideologies”. In 1987, IPF organized an all India workers’ convention, where Datta Samant was invited as main speaker. Underscoring the composition of the Front as a ‘bloc of all classes’ Vinod Mishra, the founder leader of IPF claimed that "the Front would include everyone from Nagbhushan Pattanaik to V.P. Singh”.

Through petty maneuvers, playing 'caste card' in most backward regions in Bihar, which later developed into its open support to Mandal Commission, IPF succeeded temporarily in seizing upon the traditional caste base of Congress. Alongside, one seat in Lok Sabha from Ara, it won seven seats in Bihar Assembly.

However, the Front, rapidly lost its mass base, to more aggressive caste politics led by the Janata Dal leader Laloo Prasad Yadav. Sinking deeper and deeper into parliamentary cretinism since then, the Front was shattered to pieces in 1994, after four of its seven MLAs, elected to Bihar State Assembly on its ticket, defected en-masse to the ruling party headed by Laloo Prasad Yadav, with whom IPF leadership had been hobnobbing.  

While its move in 1982 was supported only by another Stalinist CPI ML C.P.Reddy group, this time various disgruntled Stalinist groups have joined in the reactionary design.

Like Stalinists, the Maoists have also forged such popular fronts, embracing wide range of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois movements including many NGOs, under the banner of All India Peoples’ Resistance Forum (AIPRF). The 1988 AIPRF convention at Hyderabad was presided by Swami Agnivesh, leader of right wing movement of Arya Samaj.

None of these fronts could effectively challenge the regime of bourgeoisie. Instead, these popular fronts have subordinated the working class and toilers to the narrow, nationalist and casteist agenda of sections of the bourgeoisie, its leaders and parties.

Popular Frontism has a checkered history. It were Mensheviks who had proposed popular frontism, i.e. a front between workers and sections of bourgeoisie, on the ground that Russia was backward and working class was weak. Lenin and Trotsky, the great co-leaders and visionaries of October revolution, ardently opposed this Menshevik proposition. Bolshevism was born and grew in opposition to this Menshevik formula of popular frontism. When Stalin and other Bolshevik leaders capitulated to and advocated popular frontism in February revolution, Lenin and Trotsky opposed it. Lenin’s April thesis is clear refutation of popular frontism. Though Stalin later expressly confessed that he was wrong in February, but after death of Lenin, he sought to apply it in Chinese revolution of 1925. The results were disastrous. Revolution was beheaded by the bourgeois KMT, with whom Stalin had advocated popular front and had forced the communist party to join in it. Popular Frontism was practised in Germany, Spain, Bolivia, Iran, India, and more recently in Nepal and the results were equally disastrous.

However, refusing to draw any lessons from their shameful past, the Stalinists, have continued to repeat the abortive misadventure of popular frontism, again and again, forging such fronts in collaboration of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois myriad movements of various descriptions, embracing the caste and communal based organisations and even the religious heads.

The recent move to build a popular front, has come on the close heels of crushing failure of Stalinists in Parliamentary as well as Assembly elections, particularly the defeats in West Bengal and the failure to secure notable vote share in Bihar. The victory of pseudo-left AAP in Delhi, amidst the sweep of ultra right-wing BJP, has threatened the Stalinists of their bare political existence. Desperate to survive, the Stalinists have turned back to take shelter under popular frontism.

What makes the AIPF and its declaration totally ridiculous, is the fact that while referring to land grab by Modi government, the declaration of AIPF, deliberately omits to mention the land grab by Stalinist left front government in West Bengal and the brutal repression that it carried out upon unarmed peasants, for such grab. The leaders and sections of the Stalinist left front are constituent members of the AIPF.

Workers’ Socialist Party strongly condemns any attempt to forge such popular fronts containing sections of bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie. United Front can be formed only among the workers’ parties and organisations as against capitalists and landlords. Any collaboration with bourgeois or petty-bourgeois parties, leaders or movements, would only subordinate the working class to agenda and discipline imposed upon the working class by sections of bourgeois. Popular fronts are nothing, but political cages to keep working class captive to the agenda of ‘minimum program’ dictated by sections of bourgeois, preventing the working class from fighting for overthrow of capitalism.

We call upon youth and advanced workers to seriously undertake a review of the history of ‘popular frontism’, to join in the impeccable fight for independence of the working class, so zealously launched by the Workers’ Socialist Party, to reject the opportunist maneuvers of Stalinists, and to take decisive and final break from the Stalinist policy that has been instrumental in subjecting the working class to sections of bourgeoisie, through such popular frontism.

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