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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 13, March 25, 2023

Selected Quotes from the Writings of M N Roy

Saturday 25 March 2023


Four Excerpts from Writings of M N Roy selected by ND Pancholi *

(1) Political religion of Nationalism

“They speak grandiloquently of national interest, national honour and national spirit; behind all these high-sounding phrases are hidden the selfish interests of the minority. Drugged by the political religion, called Nationalism, a people becomes the Nation which claims and obtains the effacement of individuals composing the people. Rising and capturing power on the authority of the people, the Nation becomes the enemy of popular freedom. The state being the political organization of society, it is equated with the nation. But it is a historical fact that political organization of society became necessary when homogeneous human communities were divided into possessing and dispossessed classes, and ever since that time the State has been the instrument in the hand of the former to maintain its position of privilege. So, by identifying itself with the State, the Nation becomes antagonistic to the interest and freedom of the people. It is a totalitarian concept. Therefore, nationalist politics cannot but be power-politics without any socially liberating principle.”

(2) Decentralization and a pluralist society

(i) One need not go to people only to catch their votes; to help them cast their votes intelligently would be an immensely more important work. The electorate should be asked to examine the programmes of all the parties, to see if the promises can be fulfilled or, if fulfilled, will really improve matters. As the electorate gradually become critical and discriminating, the time will come when the voters of a locality will tell candidates of all parties to leave them alone; amongst themselves they will find men in whom they can have confidence and who will remain responsible to them between two elections. Once that happens, the end of the party system will begin, and with the parties, the main cause for concentration of power, will disappear. In the process, we shall already have laid down the foundation of a decentralized State of local republics, which combine all functions of the State as they effect the local life…Being thus reared upon a broad foundation of direct democracies, the State will be really democratic. Thus, a pluralist modern society can be built up, at the same time doing away with centralization of power in politics and economics.

(ii) “ It is true that the common people are illiterate; they may not be able to govern the country. But at the same time, is it not a fact that left to themselves, even the most ignorant peasants can manage their affairs better than our present government? The distrust for the ability of the common people to think for themselves and take care of themselves is only a pretext for seizing power in their name and abusing that power to suppress their liberty.”

(3) Who is a revolutionary?

What is a revolution? And who is a revolutionary? A revolutionary is one who has got the idea that the world can be remade, made better than it is today; that is was not created by a supernatural power, and therefore could be remade by human efforts. A revolutionary further starts with the knowledge that the world has been remade time and again, and that the process of remaking the world takes place of necessity. Those Indians who have felt the necessity of remaking our country, and are convinced that the people of India have the power to do so, are revolutionaries. One cannot be a revolutionary, without possessing scientific knowledge. One must have the conviction that not only human beings can remake the world, can make and unmake gods, but ever since the birth of the race have been doing that. Human nature is to set up gods, topple them down, and set up new ones.

(4) Anti-fascism and a free society

We stand for a thorough reconstruction of national life. Our political objective is the establishment of democratic freedom which will mean effective political power for the people. We strive not only for national freedom, but also for the social emancipation of the toiling masses. Our task is to spread enlightenment which will dispel obscurantism in the political and the spiritual life of the country. We advocate modernism in every walk of life against revivalism. We want the disinherited to come to their own and enjoy the richness and fullness of life on this earth. We want man to be the master of the world and the maker of his destiny.

This is why we radicals favour India’s active participation in the war against Fascism. Fascism stands for the destruction of the political, social and cultural ideals of democracy… The war against Fascism can be won only by rousing in the people their urge for freer and fuller life. The supreme task of our movement is to develop that urge, and thus while defeating Fascism, to lay securely the foundations of a free society which is not only free of foreign rule, but also free of native tyranny, exploitation and injustice.

(The above statement was issued during the Second World War 1939-1945)

* N.D.Pancholi is Vice Chairman, Indian Renaissance Institute

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