In Search of a
Right is not doing just fine. Nor does religious revivalism
pose a threat to traditional secular institutions anywhere
in the world. Even in Iran theocracy is in trouble as the
Ayatollahs find it difficult to impose divine sanctions on
the unwilling people. But that doesn’t mean political
left is on the offensive. The reverse is true. It is no longer
a force to reckon with even in the social-democratic citadels
of Europe. The fact that the left is out of touch with the
common people is as clear as anything else. Ordinary people
face stark crises that require fundamental structural reform.
And the left has no answer. Their obsession with ‘lying
low tactics’ is simply counter-productive. That diehard
conservatives even in America are no longer pathologically
averse to socialism, is quite remarkable. The problem is socialists
themselves no longer believe in the feasibility of any kind
of socialist project in the distant future. Their insistence
on turning away from the past is preventing them from building
If the left is in disarray in India today it is because it
solely depends on electoral successes for survival. Elections
are not perfect anywhere. And yet they think they have nothing
to do other than championing a dysfunctional democracy. The
decline of official left in India’s parliamentary milieu
seems irreversible despite occasional electoral gains here
and there. Being the part of the ruling establishment for
quite a long period various social-democratic tendencies represented
in the Indian context by dozens of communist and socialist
outfits and a number of ‘Janata’ formations with
caste-bias have lost whatever mass appeal they had even three
or four decades ago. Right now they derive comfort from the
fact that in Latin America social-democrats are making waves
by changing regimes through ballots.
But what is called 21st century socialism a la Venezuela is
still vague. Experiment by Hugo Chavez for a new Bolivarian
order has not yet produced a viable alternative model of social
revolution. In other words it deviates from the path of insurgency
which has been dominating Latin American revolutionary scenario
since the days of Che in the fifties. They now pin too much
hope on ballot which somehow gets passive acceptance in policy-making
chambers of America. No doubt ballot has brought in some change
in radical perception of common people in recent years but
whether it is enough to energise liberation struggle against
transnational corporations is open to question.
As for bullet, most ex-revolutionaries think armed insurrection
is a thing of the past. Protracted guerilla warfare is being
projected as a panacea for any revolutionary cause. But nowhere
in the world guerilla warfare is making headlines. Gone are
the days of Vietnam war-era optimism.
Too many ethnic wars are revolving around ideological wilderness.
A lot of sub-nationalism and regionalism. All this makes things
difficult to have a broad-based united front of toilers and
socially oppressed without which no revolutionary change is
possible. The solution to ethnic unrest doesn’t lie
in creating more unrest. The Kachen and Karen liberation movements
of Mayanmar otherwise ethnically inspired, have been stagnating
for long. And their ideologues do not know how to make a breakthrough.
Tamil tigers failed to generate harmless solidarity movement
even in India and their tragic end is not discussed even in
the right-wing media. Such blatant public apathy betrays deep
disillusionment with sub-nationalism propelled ethnic war.
Mass support coupled with motivation and wide appeal is the
real force to sustain any guerilla movement. Douglas Pike
who studied extensively Vietnamese guerilla warfare, possibly
on behalf of CIA, produced a highly informative volume—‘Vietcong’
for American soldiers fighting Vietnamese communist guerillas.
He observed that mere 20 percent solid mass support to a guerilla
movement could make a hopeless situation for regular troops.
Incidentally Vietnamese revolutionaries evolved their own
strategic and tactical lines without imitating the Chinese
In India the far left that thinks armed confrontation with
the state is the only option left to carry forward continuing
revolution has failed to form a broad-based mass platform.
Nor did they ever try to do factional work in different parliamentary
parties as a tactical manoeuvring. But the undivided communist
party of India once did it. Historically in accurate way of
looking at liberation movement has its own pitfalls. They
are backed by a few human rights bodies having only a limited
space to agitate. Both parliamentarian and non-parliamentarian
left forces hope to build people’s paradise of their
kind through their subjective thinking. They lack the massline
without which it is next to impossible to transform the existing
power equation, in favour of the ‘perpetual losers’.
For them masses are not yet a material force. Without a grassroots
uprising that challenges business as usual approach in state
and national capitals, people aren’t likely to get the
radical change they were promised by different parties, much
less the change they need.