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Mainstream, VOL L, No 9, February 18, 2012

Commendable Analysis of Present Crisis in World Capitalism

Sunday 19 February 2012

BOOK REVIEW

by BISHWAJIT SEN

Democratic Revolution for Economic Democracy by U.N. Mishra; New Generation Press, Delhi; Price: Rs 125.

This is a brief treatise attempting to explain the present crisis in world capitalism. With banks collapsing in the US and retrenched workers demonstrating in several European nations, the time has come for taking stock of the situation. Many issues are involved: How things came to such a pass, and which factors contributed to it? So, the work cannot but be called timely. Those who are trying to find answers to the questions thrown up by the situation, would find food for contemplation in the pages of this book.

Imperialism is “Moribund Capitalism”. This definition came from no other person than V.I. Lenin. In this book Foundations of Leninism, J.V. Stalin quoted Lenin’s definition and added: “Imperialism carries the contradictions of capitalism to their last bounds, to the extreme limit, after which the revolution begins.” Lenin was not wrong. The November Revolution traversed this path and later, many other revolutions, which combined to constitute the World Socialist System. It would be wise to keep the definition given by Lenin in mind. This very moribund capitalism, in the later days played at will with the fate of millions of Iraqi citizens, wrought havoc to the serene and picturesque Afghan landscape, and recently orchestrated the killing of Gaddafi, who had kept the imperialist sharks out of bounds of Libya. In India, we can find its hand clutching at our throats, when it becomes impossible to make the two ends meet economically and the sweet-tongued Prime Minister sings lullabies. His language is steeped in statistics, GDP, GNP and all that. “India is growing” as per his point of view.

Before taking imperialism headlong, we must study it. Is it similar to the imperialism of yesteryears?

Definitely not! Its fundamental predatory character remaining the same, it is now dressed up in a different armour, that is, the armour of STR and ICR. It is now much more efficient, and as such, its striking capacity is greater. Of course, STR and ICR sometimes work against it too, as was seen during ther upsurge in the Arab countries recently. But there again, the age-old darkness of human mind is there to lend it a helping hand. Though in the beginning the Communists were a force to reckon with in the Egyptian upheaval, but very soon their space was taken over by “Islamic Brotherhood”. Presently, the Egyptian revolution seems to be descending into a great chaos and confusion. We are not sure as to which path it would take in future.

It is here that the question of having a strong and well-organised Communist Party comes to the fore. The author blames the world communist movement for not recognising the victory of the “National Liberation Revolution”. (page 6) My conclusion is just the opposite. The world communist movement bent over backwards, in a most odd fashion, to keep the leaders of the “National Liberation Revolution” in good humour. It was a mute spectator to Nasser’s Communist-bashing, showering Nasser at the same time with aids, technologies etc. The scenario was no different when Saddam Hussein destroyed the Iraqi Communist Party step by step, or when Ayatollah Khomeini sent thousands of Tudeh Party activists to their death in the most brutal and sadistic way. As for “Tiny Vietnam”, its victory over the mighty USA, would not have been possible at all, had it (Vietnam) not been the recipient of the huge aid from the USSR, in armour and technology. We should remember the famous saying of Ho Chi Minh, in which he called the Soviet union, his “Second Fatherland”. The USSR is not in existence anymore, but the documents are. The Soviet contribution to the liberation of colonial peoples cannot be wished away like that.

However, these matters are extraneous in today’s context. We should, perhaps, concentrate more on the present. The present tells us clearly, and in a resounding voice, that the way out of the present morass cannot be found in wishful thinking. Very recently, the 34-year-old reign of a Left Government came to an ignominious end in West Bengal. We may please ourselves, by shifting the blame on “Imperialist Machinations”, but that would hardly be of any use. It is time we look up at ourselves in the mirror. In the “Democratic Revolution” proposed in the treatise, only the Communists can play a pivotal role. But have they readied themselves for that? Have they gotten rid of their old, structured ways of thinking, so that they may act as a magnet, drawing other democratic elements towards them? If not, then no democratic change would be possible. Alliances would come and go, but the system would remain just the same, with small patchworks here and there.
I have elaborated above my concerns as regards the future. Apart from these, the treatise is worthwhile and commendable. In layman’s language it tries to explain the recent happenings and the economic factors behind those. This is all the more important because Marxism demands that things be explained economically. The inflow of foreign capital into India and the outflow of Indian capital to foreign destinations, have been lucidly explained. (page 37) This assumes importance because Indian capitalism needs to be defined afresh. The old and moth-eaten concept of “Comprador Bourgeoisie” upheld by Maoists before our eyes, is no longer valid. The old concept of “National Bourgeoisie”, too, is not relevant anymore. Then what precisely is the “Indian Bourgeoisie” today? Is it a partner in the imperialist plunder of our country? Or, stll more, has it aquired imperialist characteristics of its own? We would have benefited if the author would have paid some attention to this question.

The book has been published on the eve of the 21st Congress of the CPI to be held at Patna. The author, U.N. Mishra, has been and still is the moving spirit behind the CPI periodical Janashakti, having devoted the best years of his life towards nurturing it. He remains undaunted by reversals and has summoned courage to come up with this book, so that it may initiate discussion amongst the Left rank-and-file. He has left the book open-ended. This underlines his humility and we cannot but be thankful to him for that.

The paper on which the book has been printed is not of great quality. But the quality of the contents compensates for that. I have no hesitation in recommending it to the readership.

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