Strange that Prasenjit Bose should feel that the programmatic debates of the 1960s and 70s are irrelevant in the context of imperialist and neoliberal assaults, and the character of the Indian state, ruling class, etc. As far as I recall, one crux of the debates was the characterisation of the Indian ruling class: whether it would be seen as progressive, anti-imperialist and anti-feudal or not. This was, in many ways, similar to the 'two tactics'debates which Lenin spoke of in context of the democratic revolution - whether the democratic revolution would be led by workers and peasants (i.e Communist party) or by the 'progressive bourgeoisie.' CPI felt the bourgeoisie was 'national' in character; CPIM differed and called for a 'people's democratic' 'revolution. CPI had illusions that Congress was anti imperialist because it was pro Soviet, and anti feudal because it spoke of land reforms.
Today, however, CPIM too seems to have the same type of illusions about Congress and other bourgeois formations. It amended its programme to claim that in times of globalisation, the contradictions between the Indian bourgeoisie and imperialist/global capital would 'intensify' - and that therefore the communist party/working class should wholeheartedly support these anti imperialist sections of the ruling class in their struggle with imperialism! Surely this explains, in a big way, why CPIM has recently displayed such illusions about Tata and about Pranab Mukherjee and the Congress/UPA! Prasenjit has rightly criticised CPIM's mistakes - but how can we, in Left terms, explain why these mistakes took place? Just corruption of leaders? Why, after all, do right deviations take place in a communist party? is there no room in CPIM's programme for loopholes of which the CPIM leadership is taking advantage?
The programmatic debates are more relevant than ever. To conduct this debate with CPIM or other Left groups without any programmatic perspective can go nowhere. If programmatic perspectives are outdated and irrelevanmt - why do we need a communist party at all! We can have any number of well-meaning groups fighting for secularism and against neoliberalism - without any communist programmatic understanding or perspective. Can these groups be any substitute for a communist party? Can we abandon the quest for a correct communist party in India? Would that not be a liquidationist position at the end of the day? There can be Left unity between communist parties with varying programmatic perspectives, no doubt - but that does not render the fundamental programmatic debates irrelevant in any way.
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