My political views have almost always been left of centre. It has oscillated from being extremist to moderate over the years, but it was always left of centre.
So am I a Communist or a Socialist? Do I believe in leftist politics that’s considered not forward thinking by most? Do I sympathize with the Naxals, Maoists, and other revolutionary groups?
I have read considerable Communist and Socialist literature, listened to lectures from Marxist leaders and thinkers, had friends who were and are staunch Communists. Since most of these happened at a fairly impressionable age, I would consider myself to be a Communist and Socialist at heart.
However, I don’t want to identify myself with the leftist parties in India. Most of the popular political parties in the left front are no different from any other Indian political party– communal, corrupt and psuedo-secular. They are more loyal to the Chinese Communist party, which funds them, and fuels their ideologies than to the down-trodden masses which they are supposed to represent.
I completely sympathize with the “perceived reason” for which Naxals are fighting for, but I completely abhor their methods, and style of functioning. I don’t subscribe nor prescribe to any type of violence, especially when it’s violence which partly or fully, directly or indirectly is targeted at innocents. And innocents include poor constables who venture to take up a job to feed their families, who unwittingly become victims of violence by Maoists against the state.
Having read, listened, debated, and experienced I must confess that Communism and Socialism in its pure form, are very utopian. Communism at least is simply not pragmatic, and history has been witness to the way the Soviet bloc disintegrated.
Does it mean that it’s irrelevant?
No. The core philosophy is more relevant today than it has ever been. I am convinced more than ever that Socialism and Communism will return, and hopefully during my life time. They may be perhaps re-branded and reformed, but they will return like old wine in a new bottle.
If you consider the very basic principle of Communism or Socialism, it’s all about creating a level playing field for just about everyone in the society, by attempting to create a classless society.
Today in India or in the US, the society consists of different classes depending on their social and financial status, clout, and asset acquisition powers. In India, you also have complexities involving religion, caste and sub-castes, while skin colour and ethnicity are often used to demarcate classes in the US.
Transforming societies to a classless model, requires social engineering that’s never very practical, and both Communism and Socialism recommend different paths.
Communists would take the path of changing the state itself, with a new constitution, bringing the whole state under a single political party, abolishing every other political thought and voice, bringing dictatorship through a political leadership, taking away assets from the haves and distributing the same to the have-nots. History has shown that in most cases, such transformation has been mostly bloody, with gross atrocities committed against mankind. Millions died in both Russia and China, during the social experiments of Stalin and Mao, respectively.
Socialists do not recommend changing the state, and would prefer to implement or continue with democracy. They will introduce reforms within the democratic system by altering Governmental policies; introducing new laws, new ideas and nationalism as some of the core services.
However, both Communism and Socialism have failed across the world, except in China, because of three major facts.
- The people implementing the ideology were human beings, and are corrupt by nature, and especially when they are empowered. And power corrupts even the scrupulous.
- The other reason is a human tendency to resist change, without really understanding why someone wants change.
- Vested interests especially from the haves who will lose out as the transformation take place.
External forces have also played roles. The United States and its allies have always found the idea of socialism scary, and have used the CIA to fund anti-socialists and communist forces across the world to topple communist and left-leaning regimes.
In the next two decades we are going to see class divisions across the globe of gargantuan proportions. The digital divide is very real, and as a result we will see social-economic divisions that can be compared to Europe in the 18th century. The difference between haves and have-nots is very apparent. I see some new iteration or spin-off of Communism happening, very soon.
I live in an apartment complex consisting of 14 flats of different sizes in a Bangalore suburb. Majority of the flats have double income couples and I believe each family earns between Rs 50,000 and 2,50,000. I believe that together we employ around 20 support staff that include maids, cooks, drivers, security guards and ayahs, and their family income would be between Rs 6000 to 12,000. It ranges from 1:10 to 1:50.
We all reside in the same city, and perhaps in the same vicinity, but the income levels and acquisition powers are different. The standard of living and the quality of life is different. I have been told the ratio is larger in the posher places in the city, and even larger in some parts of Delhi and Mumbai.
As globalisation becomes real, the divide gets wider and bigger. There would be a day, where every commodity supply and price would be controlled by a corporation governed by the mindless and merciless dynamics of the stock market. Even a government like what we have can only protect the interests of what they classify as the Below Poverty Line (BPL). At Rs. 32 as a cut-off, many of the have-nots (people whom you personally know and engage with) don’t get protection with any of the government policies.
IT industry and globalisation have merely created a new class, that’s large in number, a class of haves, who are as vulnerable as the monarchy and the aristocracy were during French revolution. They earn great salaries, perks, and are able to chase their dreams easily. By the time they reach 30, they would have acquired more than what their parents did during an entire lifetime.
It’s time this class realised the realities of what is being created around them. As they scamper for the gold rush, they should sit back and realise the divide will do more harm than good in the future.
During the Nehruvian times, we actually had a very socialist thinking governance. It’s impossible to rollback the economic reforms for many quasi-economic reasons for us .
However, I believe the young urban middle class can actually take some simple steps to ensure that the damage of the social-economic divide is reduced.
Or they can prepare themselves for being at the wrong end of the revolution.