Thursday, 17 March 2016

The Assault in JNU and the Question of Indian Nationalism

- Rajesh Tyagi/ 17.3.2016

The attack by the saffron government and its cohorts, the right-wing nationalists, upon JNU, forthwith countered a radical surge all over the country. In the immediate aftermath of the suicide by a student Rohith Vemula, in Hyderabad, the attack on JNU, had brought the pot to boiling point. The abortive coup, engineered by saffron strategists to intimidate the youth, brought nothing but humiliation and disgrace to the government whose graph was already in sharp decline over last months.

The Stalinist leaders, were quick in attempting to exterminate the early sparks of a revolt in the making, through their followers sitting at the head of student organisations inside JNU. Unfurling the tricolor over their heads, they swiftly maneuvred to disorient the youth and students, through pledges in favour of the nation-state and nationalism, bourgeois democracy and its constitution. Within no time, the challenge to nationalism was warded off with a paradigm shift to debased discourse around the 'real' versus 'unreal' nationalism.

Kanhaiya, the leader of Stalinist CPI led student federation AISF and president of JNU students Union, echoing the politics of his leaders, said, “Brother, it’s not from India, but it’s in India that we are seeking azaadi. And there’s a difference between ‘from’ and ‘in’….. And that azaadi we will ensure through this very Constitution, Parliament and judiciary. This was Babasaheb’s (Ambedkar’s) dream, and this is Comrade Rohith’s (Vemula) dream. The Constitution calls for equality, brotherhood and harmony and it is not a video that can be doctored, it is a document written by the revolutionary men and women of this country”.

Baljinder, one of the associates of Kanhaiya is quoted to have claimed, "His idea of nationalism is fighting against obscurantist forces such as right wing hindutva forces which stop the spread of knowledge, oppress people, especially women and the downtrodden, try to control the thought and actions of everyone and twist the idea of India in all. Kanhaiya's idea of nationalism emerges from the idea of national liberation movement that includes Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar and P C Joshi first general secretary of the Communist Party of India that Kanhaiya holds in high respect”.

Obviously, bourgeois has no issues with such nice, assimilative idea of nationalism. Albeit, this is complete betrayal to the revolution!

Though, these young students had merely been echoing the politics of their Stalinist party bosses, yet they must realize that these capitulations to bourgeois politics are disservice to the cause of revolution.

In order to cover-up their criminal drive in defence of apparently discredited nationalism, the stalinists masked it under disguise of ‘alternative nationalism’ and ‘peoples nationalism’. Stalinists resorted to demagogy, ‘the country does not belong to capitalists and landlords, but to workers and toilers’.

The rhetoric is false to the core. The aim is to disarm the youth and students to prevent them from answering the right wing attack through a broad country wide offensive and from actually preparing for an overturn of the national state of capitalists and landlords.

Malicious rhetoric, translated in innumerable populist slogans, repeated thousand times before by false left of all hues from parliament to streets, has succeeded, once again, in preventing a serious discourse on the question of nationalism.

Long back in history, marxists have parted roads, finally and decisively, with social-democracy, that refused to break off from nationalism. The exit of Leninists, on the eve of WWI, from second international under Kautsky, is a watershed in the history of revolutionary marxism.

Nationalism is nothing but the ideological cover for brutal class dictatorship of capitalists and landlords. It is flip side of fascism and also its fertile soil. It is ideological expression of the decadent bourgeois national state in our times. It forges the chains that bind the workers, toilers and the youth to the national state of the rich and elites. As this state gets more and more in conflict with interests of the broad masses, it gets discredited in the eyes of the people. In this phase of crisis, the pseudo-left, left-wing of the bourgeoisie, jumps to defence of the national state, crowning its nationalism with a red flag. Stalinists are the foremost adherents to bourgeois nationalism.

The demagogy of Stalinists and all other false lefts, through which they claim to support different versions of nationalism- ‘peoples nationalism’ or ‘democratic nationalism’, is a calculated fraud upon the youth and workers to disorient them away from the struggle against the farce and illusions of nationalism through which capitalists bind them to their state. Working class must oppose not only bourgeois nationalism but all its caricatures being presented by the psuedo-lefts.

Needless to say that psuedo-lefts, above all the Stalinists, have a shameful past of close association with national state under the Indian bourgeoisie and consequent defence of its nationalism.

Stalinists and the false lefts have assisted the bourgeois to rule by lending tacit support to its nationalism, subordinating the workers, youth and toilers to it.

Stalinists say to bourgeois, “Messers bourgeois, we don’t support your elite nationalism. We support the peoples’ nationalism, i.e. true democratic nationalism. The nation belongs to workers and peasants and not to you”. Bourgeois smiles before answering to stalinists, “Gentlemen! Nationalism may have many definitions. But National interest has one. Have whatever interpretation of nationalism you want, but don’t compromise on national interest. Go and play now, its all yours, keep it safe.”

It’s a gambit, a stratagem! The answer of the working class to this ploy of the bourgeoisie cannot be the invention of more subtle or truer versions of nationalism, but the tear down of the veneer of nationalism altogether and lay threadbare the real class interests of the bourgeois hidden behind it. To be sure, Nationalism, neither has nor can have two editions or versions.

Nationalism is the lifeline to capitalism. World capitalism is rooted in the bourgeois national states, to whom nationalism provides ideological-political shield. In backward countries like that in south Asian region, that are habited chiefly by rural peasants and toilers, call to nationalism finds an ardent appeal among the vast sections of the backward masses. In Nationalism, the bourgeois finds the essential link through which it binds the entire people, the workers, toilers and all poor behind its state, while placing itself at the head of the nation, as leader of the nation.

The Indian bourgeoisie has repeatedly used this blunt weapon of nationalism, to trample down all opposition to its power and the state, indicting all dissent as anti-national.

Incapable of organizing independent national states under themselves, the sections of bourgeoisie on Indian sub-continent had formed themselves into client states of imperialism in 1947, through an agreement with British colonialists. Devoid of any genuine national basis, these states were formed on most reactionary religious-communal basis. Founding of these states, through communal partition of the Indian sub-continent  in 1947 do not represent any victory or freedom for people, as is claimed by the bourgeoisie and its Stalinist lackeys. On the contrary, it represents complete defeat of the anti-colonial struggle. This defeat was the direct result of brutal suppression of the mass anti-colonial movement with active connivance of all sections of Indian bourgeoisie on the one hand and the betrayals of the Stalinists on the other. Unprecedented violence in the form of direct repression and massive communal riots was employed to carry out the counter-revolution in which Indian bourgeoisie took to power in 1947, in open agreement with colonialists. Without this agreement with foreign imperialists and local landlords, the Indian bourgeoisie could have never rode to power.

Still, no nation-based state could be carved out as none of the national section of the bourgeoisie was politically capable of carving out a national state under itself. Deformed client states of imperialism thus were formed with multi-national composition, an aberration to national state, where instead of achieving freedom, different nationalities were made captive. Once in power, the sub-continental Indian bourgeois, has thwarted the creation of any national states, through use of brutal military force. The national aspirations of all local bourgeois from Kashmir to Assam thus had remained in suspended animation since then, generating continuous desperate struggles, with no real prospects of success, against the big bourgeoisie heading the Indian state.

In fact, the multi-million toiling people on the Indian sub-continent had never fought to organize themselves into the bourgeois national-states, as they stand today. People had struggled against colonial oppression to liberate themselves from all oppression and not for putting their necks under the axe of national state of the local bourgeoisie. This sentiment, found its most finished expression in the words of Bhagat Singh, “People of this country would get nothing from exit of Lord Irwin and coming to power of Tej Bahadur Sapru or Purushottam Das Thakur”. This liberation could have come only through complete victory of the revolution on the sub-continent that would have organised all people and nationalities into a federation of socialist states in south asia. But the revolution was aborted by success of counter-revolution in 1947, out of which had emerged the deformed states of India, Pakistan and Ceylon.

Having no common culture or language and an economic life dominated by imperialist powers, the newly formed multi-national states of India, Pakistan and Ceylon, were marred in the cobweb of most reactionary trappings of religious, communal, and ethnic conflicts, apart from being home to unmentionable poverty, illiteracy and diseases.

Except brutal military power and false rhetoric of nationalism, there existed no binding force to unite these multi-national conglomerations. The more these states are engulfed into political crisis and are threatened by their own contradictions, the more they are forced to resort to this brute power coupled with rhetoric of nationalism.

Both Indian and Pakistani big bourgeoisie, and the states under them belong to no nationality. They only have reactionary communal colorations of Hindu and Muslim supremacy, that supports their divisive communal politics, which in turn is the chief instrument to keep their political power intact. These bourgeois states, constituted upon the foundations of the most reactionary elements, like communalism, racism, and casteism are the source of all kinds of backwardness, poverty, illiteracy, diseases, violence and bloodshed in the region.

Not to mention the innumerable national movements in the region that are doomed in history under weight of imperialism, any claim of the bourgeoisie to 'Indian' or 'Pakistani' nationalism, is a farce, a blatant lie, a counterfeit claim and a perjury to the core. No such nationalism exists, historically or politically, neither it can be.  After failing to create the national states and after suppressing or containing the national movements through military might, the south-asian bourgeoisie, at the head of client regimes in the region, is committing forgery in laying claim to nationalism, Indian or Pakistani. 

What to say of resolving the moot question of nationalism, the deeply reactionary bourgeoisie in south-asia, cannot even pose it correctly and seriously. 

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