Saturday, 27 June 2015

Forty Years Since Emergency: Essential Lessons for the Working Class

- Rajesh Tyagi/ 26.6.2015

Forty years ago, the political crisis of the Indian bourgeoisie, spiraling over a decade, had climaxed into proclamation of Emergency in the country. The then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, imposed an authoritarian rule, suspended civil liberties and democratic rights, imposed censorship upon media and unleashed a reign of unspeakable terror and repression upon the masses.

The imposition of emergency was a response of the Indian ruling bourgeoisie to the acute global economic crisis that resulted in breakdown of the world economy at the start of the seventh decade of the last century. Withdrawal of gold backing by the US to the dollar, was the pinnacle of this economic breakdown. Huge escalation in prices of essential commodities, was precipitating the crisis among the poor masses, already beset by rising social inequality resulting into huge gap between living standards of the rich and the poor.

The breakdown of world economy, centered around the Keynesian model, was the backdrop in which the Nehruvian era based on the ‘Welfare State’ also came close to collapse.

The crisis was unprecedented after 1947 and the political scenario was dominated by mass unrest and protests, continuing for years. More and more support was thus being garnered among the frightened ruling bourgeoisie for more authoritarian regime capable of handling the severe crisis at hand.

Indian bourgeoisie was divided for long into two major right-wing political camps tied up to the two super powers, US and USSR. While the ruling section under Indira Gandhi was a lackey of the USSR, the conglomeration of different right-wing political groups, clung to the US. Taking advantage of the mass unrest emerging out of the economic and political crisis in which the country was then mired, the pro-US forces were making desperate attempt to dislodge the pro-USSR and corrupt regime under Indira Gandhi.

With crisis touching upon its zenith, Indira Gandhi was forced to shun all facade of democracy and suppress all opposition to its government, ruthlessly. Emergency was declared in the midnight of June 25, 1975 and the leaders of opposition were rounded up and put in jails. Protests were suppressed with hard hand and all opposition was outlawed. Pretext was alleged threat to the state from internal disturbances.

While the right-wing clique under Indira Gandhi used the scare of ‘fascist forces’ to impose and justify the imposition of emergency, the right-wing opposition scared the masses with authoritarian measures adopted by Indira Government. Smaller bourgeois parties took sides with either of the two.

Stalinist Parties, divided in pro-Kremlin and pro-Beijing camps, alongside Maoists, were taking their positions in accord with this alignment. While pro-soviet CPI adhered to Indira Government as coalition partner, was supporting emergency, the CPM a split-away faction of CPI, was clung to Beijing, which in turn was in hangover with US, and was thus opposing Indira Government and the emergency. Different groups of Maoists, competing with CPM to curry favour for themselves with Beijing, were opposing emergency. Beijing at that time, under Mao, in turn was desperately seeking refuge under wings of US against USSR. Three years before, in 1972, amidst the peak of Vietnam War, when US forces were committing savage crimes in Vietnam, Mao was welcoming US President Nixon in Beijing, boasting of opening ever new vistas of friendship between US and China.

The breakdown of late sixties and early seventies that triggered the crisis of ruling bourgeoisie, coupled with the seething frustration and rebellious mood of the masses against the despotic and corrupt congress-led government, had immense potential for a revolutionary upswing. However, the Stalinist and Maoist leaders diffused this great opportunity by coming to the aid of rival bourgeoisie cliques. Stalinist CPI justified emergency as 'defence of democracy' from rightist threat, and thus gave a false red and left-democratic face to this apparently reactionary and right-wing maneuver of ruling Indian bourgeoisie. Without this assistance from CPI, that created illusions among workers and youth who followed CPI, imposition of emergency would have been far difficult, if not impossible. On the other hand, Stalinist CPM aligned itself with other right-wing bourgeois parties to limit the opposition to the authoritarian coup of emergency within the confines of bourgeois democracy and prevented the emergence and growth of a revolutionary opposition led by the working class oriented to socialist revolution. 

Instead of mobilizing the working class and toilers behind it to topple the capitalist regime through a revolutionary upsurge, the Stalinist and Maoist leaders remained adherent to rival camps of Indian bourgeoisie. Together they failed the working class by binding it to rival camps of bourgeoisie and thus blocking the working class from presenting its own revolutionary solution to the crisis of the bourgeoisie. Instead of upsetting the capitalist regime, the Stalinist and Maoist leaders thus assisted in its re-stabilisation.

This historic betrayal by the Stalinists and the Maoists behind them, was based upon their common policy of joining in united fronts with the sections of bourgeois to ‘defend the democracy’. This policy was propounded by Stalin, who imported it from Mensheviks and was borrowed later by Mao. The policy of joining in alliances with bourgeois parties, destroyed independent movement of working class everywhere, tied it to the tail of sections of capitalists and squeezed out the lifeblood from working class movements. Wherever this policy was implemented, it resulted in subjugation of the working class to the bourgeois.  

The failure of the communist parties led by Stalinists to lead the working class towards an independent response to the crisis and in opposition to the regime of capitalists, facilitated the rise of false opposition under the demagogue Jai Prakash Narain. A section of Stalinists under CPM and many Maoist factions were quick to join the right-wing movement under JP, while it was flanked on the other by core communal and fascist Jan Sangh, a precursor of today’s BJP.

In face of rising opposition to emergency, Indira Gandhi was forced to withdraw it after 21 months and was defeated in the ensuing general elections as a consequence of the same. Another right-wing coalition government of Janata Party under Morarji Desai came to power where Jan-Sangh was a coalition partner. Still this right-wing government was supported by Stalinist CPM and Maoist left factions, who remained in the right-wing bloc under Janata Party alongside the Jan Sangh.

Both Stalinists and Maoists proved them to be ‘crisis-managers’ of the capitalist regime. They deliberately wasted the great opportunity knocking at the door of revolutionary opposition to unsettle the capitalist state and drown it in its own crisis. The Stalinists and Maoists continued their support to successive capitalist governments till the crisis subsided and the regime was stabilized and re-stabilized.

After forty years, the irony is that the right-wing authoritarian and rabidly communal party, BJP is posing a hoax of opposition to the emergency with loud mouth, while the Stalinist left front, a conglomeration of six major left parties- CPI, CPM, RSP, Forward Bloc, CPI ML Liberation and SUCI (C)- is all set to get back under the folds of a UPA-III led by the Congress, that had imposed emergency.

Stalinists have supported British Imperialists against the anti-colonial struggle and had remained clung to the tails of one or the other political formation of the Indian bourgeoisie after 1947. Their role lies in holding back the working class, youth and toilers in the times of crisis, binding it to the sections of the bourgeoisie.

Once again, when the political establishment of the Indian big-business is landing into spectacular crisis, the Stalinist and Maoist parties are gearing up to re-join the bandwagon of the bourgeois parties, chiefly Congress, to keep ‘communal forces at bay’ and to ‘defend democracy’. This is total fraud upon the working and toiling masses and betrayal of their cause. None of the Bourgeois parties in India is defender of democracy or secularism. Congress was the chief animator of anti-sikh pogroms of 1984, and is responsible for implementing the anti-poor and pro-investor regime for the longest period in the history of the country. All other bourgeois parties from SP to BSP have been partners in NDA coalitions led by the BJP and are ardent supporters of the neo-liberal policies that they have unhesitatingly implemented through the governments under them.

With imposition of emergency in 1975, the long celebrated institutions of bourgeois democracy like the law courts, came crumbling down to fall in line with the authoritarian regime without any resistance. This proved the farcical nature of these bourgeois institutions as defenders of democracy. Emergency showed that these are organs of class establishment of the ruling bourgeois that can be subdued anytime at simple will of the ruling elite.

The political crisis is resurfacing and the danger of authoritarian methods, more severe than ever before, being invoked anytime by the semi-fascist saffron government, is lurking with full force, once again.

The way forward for the working and toiling masses, lies, not in making united fronts with pro-capitalist parties on bogus premise of ‘defending democracy’ or ‘fighting communalism’, but in the independent mobilization of the working class and toiling millions behind it, in order to carry forward the struggle to overturn the regime of capitalists and establish a revolutionary workers’ government for reorganization of the whole economy and the state.

1 comment:

  1. Comrades.. Will you email me, please?
    Being an 18 year old Trotskyist in India, I severely need guidance. After reading this article and the post on Bhagat Singh on the old blog, I feel it would be best to seek guidance from you, comrades.

    My email is