This document was drafted in consultation with the leaders of the CPSU, and adopted by the CC in April 1951 and circulated illegally. A legal version was adopted by the Calcutta conference and published (see next item [i.e. Statement of Policy of the Communist Party of India – editor, Revolutionary Democracy]). The main heading has been supplied by the editor.
Not Peaceful But Revolutionary Path
1. The immediate main objectives set forth in the draft program of the Communist Party of India are the complete liquidation of feudalism, the distribution of all land held by feudal owners among the peasants and agricultural workers, and achievement of full national independence and freedom. These objectives cannot be realised in a peaceful, parliamentary way. These objectives can be realised only through a revolution, through the overthrow of the present Indian state and its replacement by a people's democratic state. For this the Communist Party shall strive to rouse the entire peasantry and the working class against the feudal exploiters, strengthen the alliance between the working class and the peasantry and build, under the leadership of the working class, a broad nationwide united front of all anti-imperialist classes (including the national bourgeoisie), sections, groups, parties and elements willing to fight for democracy and for the freedom and independence of India.
2. While resorting to all forms of struggle, including the most elementary forms, and while utilising all legal possibilities for mobilising the masses and taking them forward in the struggle for freedom and democracy, the Communist Party has always held that in the present colonial set-up in India and in view of the absence of genuine democratic liberties, legal and parliamentary possibilities are severely restricted and that therefore the replacement of the present state upholding the imperialist-feudal order by a people's democratic state is possible only through an armed revolution of the people. The concrete experience of the last three years in India, after the so-called transfer of power, has only confirmed this thesis.
Combination of Partisan War in the Countryside and Workers' Rising in Cities
3. Nevertheless, wrong and distorted ideas have prevailed in our party ranks about the exact character of this armed struggle and the exact form it will have to take in order to ensure victory. For a period after the second party congress, the dominant tendency inside the party leadership was to forget the colonial nature of India's economy, to refuse to draw lessons from the experience of the revolutionary movement in China and other colonial countries, to minimise the immense importance of peasant struggles and to put forward the thesis that the political general strike in the cities and in industrial areas is the main weapon of our revolution, that such a strike will itself unleash countrywide insurrection and lead to the overthrow of the present state.
Afterwards, on the basis of a wrong understanding of the experience of the Chinese revolution, the thesis was put forward that the Indian revolution would develop exactly in the same way as the revolution in China and that partisan war would be the main or almost the only weapon to ensure its victory.
While the former thesis minimised the importance of the peasant masses and their struggles, the latter thesis minimised the importance of the working class and its actions. Both tactical lines were the result of ignoring the specific situation in India and of the tendency to draw mechanical parallels with other countries.
In theory as well as in practice both tactical lines amounted to repudiation of the key task of building the alliance of the working class and the peasantry, repudiation, therefore, of the task of building the united national front of which this alliance alone could be the firm basis, repudiation of the leadership of the working class in the anti-feudal and anti-imperialist revolution.
4. In order to evolve a correct tactical line, it is necessary to discard both the erroneous theses given above and to take into account all the factors of the Indian situation. India is a vast country, with a backward and basically colonial economy and with 80 per cent of its people dependent on agriculture. In such a country, partisan warfare, as the experience of China has shown, is one of the most powerful weapons in the armoury of the revolutionary movement and this weapon will have to be wielded by the Communist Party in the fight for national liberation. At the same time it must be realised that there are other specific factors of the Indian situation which are such that this weapon alone cannot lead to victory. In China, the split in the united national front in 1927 simultaneously split the armed forces also and the Communist Party had an army of 30,000 to start with. Moreover, because of the sparse development of railways and other means of transport, the enemy found it difficult to rapidly concentrate his forces against the areas held by the communists. Despite these advantages enjoyed by the revolutionary forces, they were repeatedly encircled by the enemy. Time and again they had to break away from this encirclement and threat of annihilation and migrate to new areas to rebuild again. It was only when they made their way into Manchuria and found the firm rear of the Soviet Union that the threat of encirclement came to an end and they were able to launch that great offensive which finally led to the liberation of China. It was thus the support given by the existence of a mighty and firm Soviet rear that was of decisive importance in ensuring victory to the tactic of peasant partisan warfare in the countryside in China.
5. In these respects the situation in India is different. We have no army to start with, it has to be created. The transport system in India is far more developed than in China, enabling the government to swiftly concentrate big forces against partisan areas. And above all, the geographical position of India is such that we cannot expect to have a friendly neighbouring state which can serve as a firm and powerful rear. All these do not mean that partisan warfare has no place in India. On the contrary, because of the factors given earlier, partisan war must be one of the major weapons in our armoury as in the case of all colonial countries. But this weapon alone cannot ensure victory. It has to be combined with the other major weapons – that of strikes of the working class, general strike and uprisings in cities led by armed detachments of the working class. Therefore, in order to achieve victory of the popular democratic revolution, it is absolutely essential to combine two basic factors of the revolution – the partisan war of the peasants and workers' risings in the cities.
6. Partisan areas will inevitably arise in various part of the country as the crisis deepens and as the mass peasant movement rises to the level of revolutionary seizure of land and food grains, paralysing and wiping out of the local forces of the enemy. These areas and the revolutionary forces operating in them, however, will continuously face the danger of encirclement and annihilation at the hands of the enemy. Even the coming into existence of liberated territories with their own armed forces in several parts of the country will not eliminate this danger because these areas will themselves be surrounded by hostile forces from all sides. Therefore partisan war alone, no matter how widely extended, cannot insure victory over the enemy in the concrete situation prevailing in India. When the maturing crisis gives rise to partisan struggles on a wide scale when the partisan forces in several areas are battling against the enemy, the workers in the cities, in vital industries and especially in the transport system, will have to play a decisive role. The onslaught of the enemy against the partisan forces, against liberated areas, will have to be hampered and paralysed by mass strike actions of the working class. With hundreds of streams of partisan struggles merging with the general strike and uprising of workers in the cities; the enemy will find it impossible to concentrate his forces anywhere and defeat the revolutionary forces but will himself face defeat and annihilation. Even inside the armed forces of the government the crisis win grow and big sections will join the forces of revolution:
7. Such a perspective demands the closest alliance between the working class and the peasantry and the realisation of working class leadership in this alliance. This alliance will be built in action, by the bold championship by the working class of the demands of the peasantry, by the direct support given by the working class in the form of demonstrations and strikes to the struggles waged by the peasantry. Leadership of the working class will be realised not merely through the leadership of the Communist Party but above all through the direct mass actions of the working class itself in support of the demands and struggles of the peasantry. Of all classes the working class is looked upon by the peasants as their closest friend and ally. Many workers come from the rural areas and are connected with the peasant by a thousand and one ties. Actions by the working class help not merely the existing peasant struggles but also, as the history of our national movement shows, inspire the peasants in the neighbouring areas, radicalise them and help in developing new peasant struggles. In the present situation in India when all classes, all sections, except the exploiting few, are facing starvation and when hatred against the present government is growing, strike actions by the working class on such an issue as food ration cuts can be a most powerful weapon to inspire the entire people, to give concrete form to their discontent, to build their unity in action and to raise the popular movement to a higher level. By fighting not merely for its own demands but for the demands of all discontented classes and sections, especially the peasantry, by acting as the foremost champion of the interests of the general democratic movement the working class will come forward as the leader of the revolutionary people and build their revolutionary unity.
8. It is of the utmost importance therefore that the party creates a political consciousness in the working class, makes it conscious of its role of hegemony, overcomes the present disunity of the working class, wins over the majority of workers in the vital industries and builds a powerful working class movement with underground factory and workshop committees as its nucleus. The best and most advanced elements must be recruited into the party. All this demands intensive political agitation in the working class, patient day-to-day work, leadership of immediate struggles for the winning of the concrete demands and the building up of a strong trade union movement. Only a united working class and a working class conscious of its role of hegemony can build national unity.
Partisan War of Peasants
9. In the rural areas the party has to rouse all sections of the peasants, including the rich peasants, against feudal exploitation and build their unity basing itself firmly on the agricultural workers and poor peasants who together from the overwhelming majority of the population. While the liquidation of feudalism and distribution of land to the peasants must remain the key slogans of agrarian revolution for the entire period, it is necessary to formulate immediate specific demands for each province and each area like reduction of rent, fair price for agricultural produce, abolition of feudal levies and forced labour, living wage for agricultural workers, etc. and lead actions for the realisation of these demands. The agrarian crisis is maturing rapidly and the peasant masses are seething with discontent against the present government which rose to power on the basis of their support and afterwards betrayed them. Despite however this widespread discontent and despite the numerous peasant actions that have taken place in many parts of the country, the peasant movement in the country as a whole remains weak and large sections of peasants have not yet been drawn into active struggle, because of the absence of organisation and firm leadership. It is our task to overcome this weakness by intensive popularisation of our agrarian program, by formulation of such concrete and easily understood demands as can become the basis for the broadest mass action, by patient day-to-day work and correct leadership of struggles to realise these demands, and by building up in the course of these struggles a network of peasant and agricultural workers’ organisations with underground units in the villages as their leading and guiding centres. Volunteer squads of the most militant and conscious sections of the peasants have to be formed to defend the peasant movement against the attacks of the enemy-squads that will form the nuclei of partisan squads as the movement develop and reach the stage of seizure of land and partisan warfare.
10. As the crisis matures, as the unity, consciousness and organisation of the masses grow, as the strength and influence of the party develops and as the enemy resorts to more and more ruthless measures to crush the agrarian movement, the question of when, where and how to resort to arms will be more and more forced on the agenda. As the question is one of immense practical importance, it is absolutely necessary that the party is able to give a clear and unambiguous answer to it.
It must be realised that because of the vast area of India, because of the uneven level of mass consciousness and mass movement in different parts of the country, uneven acuteness of the agrarian crisis and uneven strength and influence of the party itself, the peasant movement cannot develop at the same tempo everywhere. Premature uprisings and adventurist actions of every type must be undoubtedly eschewed. At the same time, it would be wrong to lay down that armed action in the form of partisan warfare should be resorted to in every specific area only when the movement in all parts of the country rises to the level of uprisings. On the contrary, in the course of the development of the movement, the situation will arise in several areas which would demand armed struggle in the form of partisan warfare. For example, in a big and topographically suitable area where the peasant movement has risen to the level of seizure of land, the question as to how to effect that seizure and how to defend the land so seized will become a burning live question. The party is of the opinion that partisan warfare in such a situation, undertaken on the basis of a genuine mass peasant movement and the firm unity under the leadership of the party of the peasant masses, especially the most oppressed and exploited strata, combined with other forms of struggle such as social boycott of landlords, mass no-rent struggle, agricultural workers’ strike, can, if correctly conducted and led, have a rousing and galvanising effect on the peasant masses in all areas and raise their own struggles to a higher level.
Wherever such partisan struggles develop they must also be combined with mass actions of the working class, especially in the neighbouring areas, in the form of strikes and demonstrations. Undertaken on the basis of the most careful preparation and assessment of all factors, the partisan struggles must be conducted with the utmost boldness and tenacity, defending the gains of the movement by every means at our disposal.
At the same time the party has to act with the utmost flexibility when overwhelming forces of the enemy are concentrated against the partisan areas and the partisan forces run into the danger of defeat and total annihilation.
Partisan Struggle and Individual Terrorism
11. In spite of the offensive nature of the partisan struggle, it is necessary to emphasise in our agitation and propaganda in the initial period the defensive nature of partisan struggle, saying that the objective of the partisan struggle is above all to defend the peasants from the attacks of the government and its punitive organs. In doing so special attention should be paid to the demands for which the peasants are fighting and to the atrocities of the government which force the peasants to take to arms. It is necessary, at the same time, to point out that it is the government that is responsible for violence and bloodshed.
Partisan struggle is frequently confused with individual terrorism, it is asserted that individual terrorism is a part of partisan struggle and not only a part, but even a basis of the partisan struggle. This is absolutely wrong. What is more, individual terrorism contradicts the spirit and objectives of partisan struggle. And it is absolutely incompatible with partisan struggle. In the first place, the objective of individual terrorism is to destroy particular individuals while not pursuing the aim of destroying the regime of feudal exploitation and subjugation of the people, whereas the objective of partisan struggle is not to destroy particular individuals, but to destroy the hated regime in a prolonged struggle of the popular masses. In the second place, individual terrorism is carried out by individuals terrorists – or by small squads of terrorists acting apart from the masses, and without any link with the struggle of the masses, whereas the partisan struggle is carried on by the popular masses and not by individuals, it is carried on in close contact with the struggle of the masses against the existing regime.
Since individual terrorism is directed against particular individuals and not against the regime it creates in the minds of the masses a harmful illusion as if it would be possible to destroy the regime by destroying individual representatives of the regime, that what matters is not the destruction of the regime but the destruction of the individual representatives of the regime, that the main evil is not the existence of the regime but the existence of particular worst representatives of the regime whom it is precisely necessary to destroy. It is clear that such a feeling created by individual terrorism can only weaken the onslaught of the masses against the regime and thus facilitate the struggle of the government against the people. Therein lies the first main harm done by individual terrorism to the people's partisan movement.
Since individual terrorism is carried out not by the masses but by individual terrorists acting apart from the masses, individual terrorism leads to an undue minimisation of the role of the mass movement and to equally undue exaggeration of the role of the terrorists, who are alleged to be capable of securing the liberation of the people by their own forces, independent of the growth of the mass partisan movement. It is clear that such a feeling created by individual terrorism can only cultivate passivity among the popular masses and thereby undermine the development of partisan struggle. Therein lies the second main harm done by individual terrorism to the revolutionary movement.
To sum up: Individual terrorism undermines the possibility of unleashing the partisan struggle of the masses and it should be rejected as harmful and dangerous.
It Is Necessary to Strengthen the Party
12. Despite the tremendous radicalisation that has taken place among the masses during the last three years and despite the many mass actions that have taken place and are taking place, it would be gross exaggeration to assert that India is already on the verge of an armed insurrection or a revolution, that a civil war is already raging in the country, that the government, its leaders and agents are already completely isolated and so on and so forth. Such an exaggeration inevitably leads to the ignoring of the concrete tasks facing the party, the organising and advocacy of adventurist actions, and the issuing of futile calls for action and pompous slogans which bear no relation either to the existing level of mass consciousness or to the actual maturity of the situation. In practice it results in the self isolation of the party, making it easy for the enemy to destroy it. It results in handing over of the masses to the socialists and other disruptors. Equally wrong are they who through their reformism see only the weakness and disunity of the popular movement, the offensive of the enemy and advocate a policy of retreat and 'lying low', a policy of regrouping of force, eschewing all militant action in the cities and in the countryside for the present. Tactics based on such an understanding of the situation would result in the worst type of reformism and make the party trail behind the masses instead of leading them.
13. The reality of the situation is that the crisis is maturing fast, under its impact the masses are getting fast radicalised and a period of big battles lies ahead. The government's failure to carry out a single pledge that it gave to the people, its failure to tackle a single problem – especially the problem of agrarian reform and food for the people – all these are fast shattering the illusions and already the majority of our people look upon the present government as a government of the exploiting classes, as a government of landlords and capitalists. Most of them still believe that this government can be changed and a real popular government take its place without resort to armed revolution and by means of the general elections, nevertheless in the struggle for their day-to-day demands – adequate wages, fair price for agricultural products, restoration of ration cuts, etc. – hundreds of thousands are coming out in action in all parts of the country. The growth of the popular movement still lags behind the growth of popular discontent, only a small fraction of the people have as yet been drawn into the actual struggle against the government. This lag is due not merely to the repressive measures adopted by the government but primarily and above all to the weakness of the party and the existing disunity of the progressive forces. It is therefore one of the key tasks of the party to forge the unity of the working class, to unite the popular forces on the basis of a concrete program, and to grow into a mass party so as to be able to supply the leadership which alone can unify and extend the mass movement and raise it to a higher level.
The party has to give the slogan that the present government must go and be replaced by a popular government, representing the unity of the democratic forces, a government that will break with the British empire and carry out the program of agrarian reform and democracy. It has to utilise the coming general elections for the most extensive popularisation of its program, for mobilising and unifying the democratic forces, for exposing the policies and methods of the government. It has to lead the masses in their day-to-day struggles and take them forward step by step so that the people, through their own experience, come to realise the necessity and inevitability of armed revolution.
The party must not preach the inevitability of fascism but utilise the enormous volume of democratic opinion in the country to unite the people and halt the growing drive towards fascism on the part of the present government. Through patient and systematic day-to-day work, through bold championship of the demands of the people, through correct leadership of the concrete struggles of all sections of the people, the party will grow and be able to fulfil its role as organiser and leader of the people's democratic movement.
14. It is necessary therefore to put an end to the interminable discussion that has been going on in our party for one year on the question of the Chinese path, on the question as to how armed struggle is to be conducted. Such discussions disorganise the party, dissipate its strength and leave the masses leaderless precisely when they need the leadership of the party most urgently. Discussion of such matters, carried on almost openly as they have been till now, reveals all our plans to the enemy and makes it difficult to carry them out in practice.
The fact is that if the crisis bursts forth in the near future the party in its present disorganised and weak state will not be able to fully utilise it to lead the people to revolution. It is not yet prepared to shoulder the gigantic responsibilities that such a situation will place on it. It is necessary therefore that the present weaknesses are overcome with the utmost rapidity, the basis of the party and strengthen it. While recruiting the best elements from the working class and other fighting classes into the party and developing it into a mass party, it is necessary at the same time to exercise the utmost vigilance against the swamping of the party by elements that cannot yet be considered fully tested and trustworthy. The system of candidate membership must be introduced for this purpose. It is also necessary that while utilising all legal possibilities, the existing illegal apparatus of the party is strengthened enormously.
The Struggle for the Preservation of Peace
15. One of the most important tasks facing the party in our country is the task of mobilising the Indian people in the struggle for the defence of peace. Being one of the largest and most populous countries of the world and occupying a key position in Southeast Asia, India has a tremendous role to play in the battle against the Anglo-American warmongers and for the preservation of peace. It is the job of the Communist Party to ensure that India plays that role.
The forces of peace in our country are potentially very strong and are growing. Love and admiration for the Soviet Union are widespread among all sections, including the middle-class intelligentsia. The liberation of China and its emergence as a great power, the manner in which the people's government of China is successfully tackling the problems of food, famine, floods and diseases have profoundly influenced our people. So powerful is the sentiment against American aggression in Korea, so widespread the sympathy for the Korean people that even the most reactionary newspapers have had to criticise the Americans. This powerful mass sentiment as well as other factors have compelled even the Nehru government to take a stand against the most blatant acts of the American imperialists (the threat to use atom bomb, the branding of People's China as aggressors, etc.).
16. The party, however, has as yet not succeeded in transforming the widespread peace sentiment into a powerful peace movement because, as on other issues, our approach to the issue of peace also was an extremely sectarian one. The peace movement, in the main, remained a movement confined to the existing mass following of the party and the TUs and peasant organisations under our influence. The peace platform was utilised for abstract denunciation of the government on all conceivable issues and to popularise struggles that only the party waged. Inevitably the result was a restriction of the sweep of the peace movement and failure to win over as peace partisans all the genuine lovers of peace. It is only recently that these harmful methods are being abandoned.
Another manifestation of sectarianism was the failure to link the issue of peace with the live issues facing the people, the failure to show the connection between the drive towards war and the mounting war budget of the Nehru government with the rise in the prices of necessities of life, reduction of government expenditure on education, neglect of housing accommodation, growing attack on civil liberties, etc.
It is of the utmost importance to abandon all sectarianism in order to develop a real broad based peace movement. The growing and strengthening of the national liberation movement helps the cause of peace. The strengthening of the peace movement also facilitates the growth of the national-liberation movement. These two movements therefore must develop in close relation with each other, each strengthening the other. Nevertheless they are not identical. The platform of peace is a broader platform. It can and must include all supporters of peace, all elements who for various reasons are opposed to war and are prepared to take their stand against all measures calculated to extend and unleash war.
17. It is necessary for the peace movement to correctly appraise the foreign policy of the Nehru government in relation to peace and to adopt a correct attitude towards all specific manifestations of that policy.
While the peace movement must support all these specific acts of the government which hamper the plans of the warmongers, e.g. Nehru's declaration against the atom bomb and the vote against American proposal to denounce People’s China in the UNO, it must also simultaneously point out the half-hearted and vacillating nature of the government's policy and wage a determined battle to mobilise mass opinion in favour of consistent peace policy.
As a matter of fact the Nehru government's policy cannot be called a policy of peace. It is essentially a policy of manoeuvring between the main enemy of peace, the United States of America and its junior partner Britain on the one hand and peace loving countries on the other. Nehru fears the consequences of a world war and therefore advocates a policy of ‘moderation’, of not going ‘too far’. At the same time the Indian government continues to be an active member of the British commonwealth which is a partner of American imperialism in aggressive wars. The Indian government has not condemned the American war of aggression in Korea, nor repudiated its support to the illegal resolution of the UNO sanctioning that aggression. It has not condemned the British imperialists who are waging war in Malaya but on the contrary permitted them to recruit gurkha soldiers against the Malayan people. It has not denounced French aggression in Vietnam and continues to give facilities to the French imperialists for the transport of troops and war materials.
Therefore, in addition to mobilising the people against the threat of atom bomb, for support to the Stockholm and Warsaw appeals, one of the specific tasks of the peace movement in India is to rally the people against those policies of the present government which abet and aid the colonial wars waged by the American, British and French imperialists against the peoples of Southeast Asia. The peace movement is not a pacifist movement, not a movement merely for recording abstract support to peace. It is a fighting movement for concrete action in defence of peace and against the imperialist warmongers, including those waging colonial wars.
18. The peace movement must fight against all attempts to sow hostility against the Chinese People's Republic. It must explain to our people how the liberation of Tibet is not a threat to peace but a decisive blow against the instigators of war. It must uphold the heroic action of the Chinese volunteers who by smashing the plans of the American warmongers to enslave the Korean and Chinese peoples strengthened the cause of world peace.
19. We must also fight against all warmongering propaganda against Pakistan, pointing out how the growing tension between Pakistan and India is the result of imperialist manoeuvres and how it helps the enemies of the peoples of both states. We must demand a drastic reduction in the military budget and a policy of friendship and close alliance between India, Pakistan and Ceylon.
20. The peace movement must wage a determined battle against slanderers
of the Soviet Union, against all those who strive to depict the
consistent peace policy of the Soviet Union as a policy of war and
aggression. Basing ourselves on the lucid and clear-cut statement of
Comrade Stalin in reply to the Pravda correspondent, we must concretely
expose the real instigators of war and uphold the shining example of
the Soviet Union which is devoting its energies and resources to
further improve the condition of the people and leading the entire
progressive humanity in the struggle for the preservation of peace.
Firm friendship between the peace loving peoples of all countries must
save the world from the menace of war and the people of India have to
playa big role in establishing this friendship – this fact must be made
part of the consciousness of the entire people.
Question – Answer
Question: Is it correct to resort to partisan war in one particular area where the conditions are ripe for it, even though other rural areas are not ripe for it and the workers are not ready to support it with mass actions?
Answer: Yes, you can and should resort to it. To start or not does not depend on us. It depends on the organisational state of the masses and their mood. If the masses are ready, you must start it.
Question: Have we to take up partisan struggle only when the peasant struggle for partial demands reaches the stage of land distribution and establishing of village peasant committees? Or, can we take it up when the movement is still in the stage of struggle for partial demands, for example rent reduction?
Answer: The partisan struggle also has stages. It starts with smaller demands – let us say, reduction of rent. It is not yet a partisan struggle. If the enemy refuses to grant the demands and the peasant is eager to win it by force, then partisan struggles can start. True, it is not the struggle for seizure of land but only for reduction of rent; still it will be a partisan struggle.
The partisan struggle is a struggle for enforcing demands by force. It starts whenever peasants start open struggle for their demands. This is the first stage of the struggle. Whenever it takes up the main demand, that means the higher stage. Whenever it takes to arms to crush the law this is the highest stage. Just like the workers' struggles.
Hence it does not depend on us. If the masses are ready and eager, we should assist them.
Question: Can partisan warfare even of the most elementary type be developed in areas where communications are well developed?
Answer: Yes, when encirclement occurs, transfer the best forces to another area. Lead out the armed forces so as to join it with the armed forces in another area, so as to create a liberation army of your own.
Question: Aim of the partisan struggle that must be the liquidation of the enemy's armed forces with the active assistance of the masses of peasants. To kill individual oppressors with a view to terrorise all the other oppressors and make them renounce their oppression is terrorism. But I cannot understand the complete banning of any individual action against any oppressor-landlord, notorious official or a spy as a matter principle, under the name 'terrorism'. In my opinion, at times, it becomes necessary, in the earlier phase of the partisan struggle, to organise individual actions against some notorious oppressors, not in order to terrorise other oppressors into renouncing their oppression but to guard the safety of the partisan squads. I am unable to understand how such actions make the people passive. As I understand international literature, such individual actions were conducted by partisans against German and Japanese fascists in the occupied countries during the anti-fascist war, and they are being done even now in Asian countries where partisan warfare is going on – Malaya, Burma, Indochina etc. If I remember rightly, such actions were not only not banned by Lenin in his article on partisan warfare but, on the other hand, he severely criticised the Mensheviks who condemned them as anarchism. I seek clarification on this point.
Answer: Comrade says he cannot understand why individual terrorism should slow down the action of the masses. Individual terrorism is called so not merely because it is directed against individual oppressors but also because it is carried out by individuals or groups irrespective of the masses. Individual terrorism creates the illusion that the main evil is not the regime but individuals, that only if a few more are destroyed, the regime will be finished off. What conclusions will the masses draw? That with the help of terrorism of this type, it is possible to destroy the regime after a long struggle. And if such conclusions are drawn by the peasants, they will say "No use developing the struggle against the regime. Our glorious terrorists will do the job." Such sentiments weaken the onslaught of the masses against the regime, it is harmful and dangerous. Individual terrorism creates the belief that the main force lies in the heroic terrorists and not in the masses. The role of the masses becomes to watch and applaud. That means to cultivate passivity. Marx and Engels taught that the liberation of the masses has to be won by the masses themselves. This is what you ought to tell them. Different results follow from individual terrorism. Masses look upon the terrorists as heroes and liberators. Comrade's reference to Lenin is without foundation. We can give him articles by Lenin directed against individual terrorism. You must know how hard he hit Mensheviks when the revolution was at an ebb and they took to terror.
The theory of individual terrorism comes to the front when the revolution recedes. It is a reflection of the weakness of the movement. Whenever the revolutionary movement is rising and the masses themselves rise their theory of individual terrorism disappears from the horizon. Comrade must bear that in mind.
On landlords and capitalist landlords: In general landlord means feudal landlord. In the case of capitalist landlords as described by comrade, there should be a limit to the total land to be allowed to them.
This program lays down the broad outline. You will have to prepare a special agrarian program of your own. You have cultured provinces, backward provinces. In some capitalist farming has made big strides. Every area has its own specific feature. All this has to be taken into account.
Questions and Answers
Deleted from the program the abolition of all indirect taxations. Our experience shows it is not possible at this stage. Only later, when revolution gains, it will be possible to reduce prices, reduce and then annul indirect taxes. Russian Marxists at first put this in their minimum program but it proved wrong.
Also we are opposed to the abolition of regular army. Experience shows that the revolution cannot be defended without a standing army, with well-qualified and trainer men, tankmen, airmen, pilots, etc. Modern army cannot exist without well-trained cadres. If India bases itself only on rifles and machine-guns, Pakistan can easily subjugate it. Must have army of its own. Present army of Nehru however is a mercenary army. Popular national armies not mercenaries. It is linked with the people. Perhaps they will not digest general principle of conscription in India. Effect of British tradition which considers conscription a misfortune. Will say that Nehru not enforcing conscription but Bolsheviks want it. Better not to say anything.
On competition of foreign goods in India: Theoretically, we know that America in a crisis dumps its goods. This happened in China under Chiang. Flooded China with American goods and ruined national industries. That's why the Chinese bourgeoisie accused Chiang of not defending the national industries and opposed him. Do not know if America is doing the same in India.
Question: Can we say that the Indian big bourgeoisie has finally gone over to imperialism? If so, what is the objective basis of winning over or mobilising any section in the struggle against imperialism?
Answer: A certain part of the big national bourgeoisie has finally joined hands with imperialism but not the whole of it. Many among the bourgeoisie stand for industrialisation and would be opposed to foreign capital in the inner market.
Question: Can in India the big bourgeoisie or any section of it still be called oppositional in its relation to imperialism?
Answer: Yes. It can unquestionably. If only because the government plunders the peasants and restricts the home market. It may not shout from the house-tops about it, but it is opposed to this all the same.
Question: Is it the entire big bourgeoisie or only sections that are collaborating with imperialism? If sections, then which sections?
Answer: First part of the question already answered. As regards the second part, it is wrong to put such a question. You want to weigh them in a balance? Cannot do that. National bourgeoisie should be taken as a whole, its majority. Growth of movement will show who stands where. There are scoundrels among the national bourgeoisie but they are not typical of the class as a whole. The same is true of the working class. Not all sections and all elements are revolutionary. So, if you look at the problem in a Marxist way, the national bourgeoisie is oppositional. Partly undoubtedly reactionary but not the whole. Not only small but many of the bourgeoisie feel that the inner market is too narrow and will not prevent land being handed over to the peasants.
Question: What is the class character of the present Nehru government? We think this big bourgeois-landlord government collaborating with imperialism.
Answer: Not quite. Nehru bases himself not only on these classes but also on the kulaks. When the government cry 'buy land', it addresses itself to the kulaks and the kulaks appreciate. So the basis is not as narrow as you think. Therefore it is not a puppet government. In order to overthrow it, one has to work hard. Don't think if you blew, it will fall.
Weakness of the Nehru government is that it does not base itself on the majority of the peasantry, workers and toiling intelligentsia. It is from this direction that you should launch your attacks.
Question: If this is so, why would kulak join us? How can we win him over?
Answer: We have to ally with him in the anti-feudal struggle. The kulak sympathises with the Nehru government. But if the peasantry rises against the feudals, the kulak thinks that the part of the feudal land will fall to him, but will either support the peasants or proclaim neutrality.
Question: Are we right when we say that the united front we have to build is a united front of all classes including the national bourgeoisie?
Answer: Yes, you are right.
Question: Can we characterise the foreign policy of the Nehru government as a manoeuvre between British and American imperialism? Does this apply to the foreign policy in so far as it relates to the specific policy of peace?
Answer: Yes, subject to one correction. Nehru also plays between the peace loving countries and the war bloc.
Question: What should be our attitude to such specific manifestation of the government's foreign policy, as for instance the stand on the use of the atom bomb or on the American proposal to brand People's China as an aggressor? Should we merely expose them as a manoeuvre or should we support them while simultaneously exposing them as half-hearted and inadequate in nature?
Answer: The latter is right. Support and expose the half-hearted nature.
Question: Is there any contradiction between the certain specific acts of the government and our general opposition to it?
Answer: No contradiction.
Our party possesses a very fine perspective. A very good regime can be organised in your country and a great society. For this, you should renounce personal differences. Differences will arise but they must be overcome. The minority must submit to the majority. Discuss and convince each other. Even Lenin found himself in the minority several times. He submitted to the majority. Without that there can be no discipline or no party.Click here to return to the index of archival material.