The Stage of Revolution and the Journal Revolutionary Democracy
Introduction: There is a popular Bengali proverb – Dhan Vante Shiver Geet (Shiva’s song while husking paddy) meaning a quite unnecessary and irrelevant song on the occasion concerned. Our most learned critique Revolutionary Democracy sang, likewise, a quite unnecessary and irrelevant song of ‘real’ or ‘genuine’ industrialisation and programme of the 6th Congress of Communist International while speaking of the determination of the stage of revolution in India, in its rejoinder to Proletarian Path and its Editor in Revolutionary Democracy, Vol. III, No. 2, Sept. 1997 in ‘A Critique of the Contemporary Adherents of the Views of M.N. Roy, Evgeny Varga and Leon Trotsky on the Current Stage of Revolution in India’ on pages 40 to 60. Besides its irrelevant songs of ‘real’ or ‘genuine’ industrialisation and programme of the 6th Congress of Communist International it also tried its best to vitiate and turn a healthy Marxist polemic into an antagonistic warfare by using such filthy invectives which can only be used against the worst enemies of revolution and of the proletarian class. Proletarian Path will try its best to avoid the path of hatred, enmity and revenge and will strictly follow the norms of comradely criticism in continuing this polemic.
The Proletarian Path stands firmly on its arguments put forward in its inaugural issue (New Series Vol. I, No. I, Nov - Dec. 1992) and as such, this article it will only show and prove Revolutionary Democracy’s utter ignorance of the ABC of Marxism and the essence of the programme of the 6th Congress of Communist International.
The central point of the polemic between the Proletarian Path and the Revolutionary Democracy (henceforth PP and RD) are NOT on the fake or genuine industrialisation BUT on the political economy of India. All the Marxist-Leninists know that the proper subject matter of political economy is formed by human social relations that take shape during the production of the material things or the SOCIAL SYSTEM OF PRODUCTION. BUT our critic RD, unfortunately, bypassing the political economy or the social relations of India sang the song the productive forces or machine making machine – completely extricating it from the relations of production. It has made capitalism synonymous with the manufacture of machine making machine, completely ignoring the emergence of different types of capitalism since the period of imperialism when export of capital, instead of export of goods and the process of globalisation of capital and capitalism began. Though it referred to the programme of the 6th Congress of Communist International (hence forth only The Programme) in its defence, it totally disregarded the programme in its assessment of capitalism in India. Whereas the programme says:
‘The uneven development of capitalism, which becomes more accentuated in the period of imperialism, has given rise to a variety of types of capitalism.’
PP now will show and prove how childish and un-Marxist is the stand and interpretation of RD’s first and foremost important subject-matter under the sub-heading ‘Productive Forces, Production Relations and the Determination of the Stage of Revolution.’
Productive Forces and the Relations of Production
The Editor of PP said in determining the stage of revolution Revolutionary Democracy’s point of departure is machine making machines or heavy industry – not the relations of production in industry and agriculture. I consider this point of departure is quite un-Marxist in determining the stage of revolution (see Revolutionary Democracy, Vol. III, No. 2, Sept. 1997 issue, p. 34 in ‘Marxist Methodology and the Current Stage of Revolution’ by Moni Guha).
In reply to the above, RD, in its rejoinder, once again betrayed its ignorance about the ABC of Marxist conception of the indissoluble relations between the productive forces and relations of production and their character and role. RD, consciously or unconsciously violating the law of indissoluble unity and contradiction and analysis and synthesis of Marxism, extricated the productive forces from the relations of production and has made the productive forces all-in-all and thus has arrived at wrong and un-Marxist conclusion that without the manufacture of machine-making machine or heavy industry, there cannot be any capitalism and capitalist relations. With a view to prove this gem our critique has said:
‘Marx established that the level of development of the productive forces determines the economic system of society’, (Ibid., p.41, under the subheading under discussion, emphasis on ‘determines’ is ours).
PP most humbly, but quite resolutely challenges RD to show where and when Marx ‘established’ this arrant nonsense.
On the basis of this arrant nonsense our critique RD, like that of Napoleon at Waterloo shouts:
‘Proletarian Path has liquidated Marxism in its methodology’ (Ibid., p.55, para. 2).
We shall see now who has liquidated Marxism in its methodology, PP or RD?
We are forced to begin from the beginning of Marxism and we appeal to the readers to excuse us.
What are the productive forces?
Productive forces are means of production and people who set the means of production in motion.
Describing the labour process, Marx noted that human labour and the means of production are interconnected and interdependent. Labour is inconceivable without means of production and the means of production is meaningless without labour. And human labour always has a definite social form. Lenin said:
‘The primary productive forces of human society as a whole is the workers, the working people’ (Lenin, C.W., Vol. 29, p. 304) [This is an incorrect reference, ed R.D.]
Elsewhere Lenin said:
‘...the development of human society IS CONDITIONED by the development of material forces, the productive forces’. (V.I. Lenin, ‘Collected Works’, Vol. 2, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972, p. 21, emphasis on ‘is conditioned’ by capital letters ours).
We would request our critic and readers to please note carefully Lenin’s ‘is conditioned’. Marx said that the productive forces are INDICATORS of man’s position with respect to technology and natural forces of human society. What do then Lenin’s ‘is conditioned’ and Marx’s ‘indicators’ really mean? It clearly means that the productive forces DO NOT DETERMINE the economic system of society. It can help us to guess the level of development of human society.
So, the un-Marxist and banal theory of our critic that the level of the development of productive forces determines the economic system of society holds no water. Marx could not and in fact did not ‘establish’ this nonsense.
What, then, determines the various economic systems of society? Marx, unambiguously and categorically said:
‘For production to go at all they (the labourers and the means of production) must unite. THE SPECIFIC MANNER IN WHICH THIS UNION IS ACCOMPLISHED distinguishes THE DIFFERENT ECONOMIC EPOCHS OF THE STRUCTURE OF SOCIETY" (Marx: Capital, vol. II, p. 34, Foreign Languages Press, Moscow, (sic) emphasis in capital letters ours).
Stalin, in his Dialectical and Historical Materialism explained Marx’s this ‘specific manner in most brilliant way. The three systems of class exploitation known to history differ from one another NOT ONLY in the ownership of the means of production, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY in the manner in which the labourers and the means of production are united. Stalin points out that the basis of the relations of production under the slave system was full ownership by the slaveowner of the means of production – the slaves; the basis of the relations of production under feudal system was full ownership by the feudal lords of the means of production and the partial ownership of the workers in production - the serfs; the basis of relations of production under the capitalist system was the ownership by the capitalist of the means of production but not the workers in production.
It is crystal clear from the above that Marx ‘established’ NOT the level of productive forces determines the economic system of society, BUT the specific manner of unity between the labourers and the means of production determines the specific economic system of society. The above also means that our critique’s assertion is nothing but arrant nonsense.
As the ownership of the means of production plays so important a part in forming the relations of production, that is why relations of production are also called ‘property relations’ – which is the ‘legal’ term of relation of production.
Indissolubility of Productive Forces and the Relations of Production:
Though the means of production and the labourers who set the means of production into action constitute the productive forces, yet to obtain vital material things, ‘for production to go at all’ IT IS NOT ENOUGH to have productive forces only - whatever may be the level, of their development. Men have to co-operate with one another TO ENTER INTO DEFINITE SOCIAL AND PRODUCTION RELATIONS. Hence the productive forces and the relations of production in their indissoluble dialectical unity form TWO ASPECTS OF SOCIAL PRODUCTION and one cannot think of one without the other.
But RD in its infantile over-enthusiasm towards the productive forces has, unfortunately, made it all-in-all, as things without any soul, surprisingly enough, exactly like those of bourgeois and vulgar economists. Marx, in refuting such interpretation of capital in terms of productive forces said:
‘...capital is not a thing (means of production ed. PP) but rather a definite social production relation, belonging to a definite historical formation of society, which is manifested in a thing and lends this thing a specific social character’. (Karl Marx, ‘Capital’, Vol. III, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1971, p. 814, emphasis ours).
Unfortunately, RD has forgotten that the productive forces always function in a certain economic form WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF RELATIONS OF PRODUCTION OF A SPECIFIC TYPE. No one can isolate and extricate the productive forces from the relations of production EVEN THEORETICALLY. Unquestionably the level of development of productive forces (means of production, technology, science, standard of knowledge and skill etc,...) of the past society predetermines the basis of relations of production corresponding to the given stage of history. In this sense, and only in this sense productive forces are primary and the relations of production are secondary. But THIS DOES NOT MEAN IN THE LEAST that the level of development of the productive forces determines the economic system of society. Our critique has gone too far in its wild imagination and thus made the role of the relation of production a passive bystander. But the fact is: having developed on the basis of the past society relations of production exercise an active and tremendous feedback influence on productive forces either promoting their rapid development or holding them back and inhibiting their growth. So, ignoring, isolating and extricating the active role of the relations of production and their exertion of feedback influence on the productive forces is not Marxism but a caricature of Marxism.
Endless caricature of Marxism has been performed by our critic. The Marxist understanding of political economy is so miserably betrayed. Thus our critique has made the ‘economic development’ synonymous with the productive forces. It has brought Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin to the witness box in defence of this queer theory of productive forces. It has said: ‘in opposition to the approach of Proletarian Path Lenin took the level of economic development of Russia as his point of departure in determining the stage of revolution’.
Then it quoted Lenin as below:
‘The degree of Russia’s ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (objective condition)... etc.’ RD further wrote:
‘The Leninist approach of taking the ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT of a country into account when determining the stage of revolution was the point of departure in drafting the programme of the Communist International which was adopted by the 6th Congress in 1928...’ (Ibid., p. 42, under the same subheading under discussion, emphasis ours).
It is really unfortunate that our critic does not know about the basic difference between the ‘level of development of the productive forces’ and the degree of economic development, in spite of Lenin’s ‘objective condition’ in parenthesis. Is ‘objective condition’ or ‘the degree of economic development’ of Lenin synonymous with our critic's ‘level of productive forces’? Even a novice knows that the productive forces and ‘objective condition’ or ‘economic development’ are NOT the same thing. The two denote completely different things. One cow and man does never mean two cows or two men. ‘Economic development’ or the ‘objective condition’ are the sum-total of the socio-economic condition of society and is the subject matter of political economy of which the PP spoke, whereas the productive forces are the subject matter of technology, science and skills of the workers. What then, is political economy? In his ‘Anti-Duhring’ Engels said that the political economy, in its broadest sense, is the science of laws governing the production and exchange of material values in human society. Obviously, the productive forces do not cover the production and exchange. To build up economy and to make economic development a certain mode of production is required. And what is mode of production? MODE OF PRODUCTION is constituted by the UNITY OF PRODUCTIVE FORCES AND THE CORRESPONDING RELATIONS OF PRODUCTION. Without taking all these into account and their laws one cannot have any understanding of economy or objective condition. Can productive forces alone, then, be synonymous with the ‘objective condition’?
It is clear now that the Leninist approach and the point of departure of Lenin and the programme in determining the stage of revolution were NOT ‘the level of development of productive forces’ or ‘machine-making machine’ BUT the economy as a whole i.e., the science of political economy. The approach and the point of departure of PP (see its inaugural issue) is also the economic development of objective condition of India as a whole i.e., the science of political economy of India.
So, it is not PP but the RD, who has made caricature of Marxism and believes that RD will very soon realise its Himalayan drawback in grasping Marxist science and acquire the quality of Bolshevik modesty.
How RD Reads and Understands the Programme of the 6th Congress of Communist International and Stalin?
The PP has challenged RD besides incontestably proving that RD has misread, misunderstood and thus misinterpreted the question of relation between the productive forces and the relations of production. In PP we will discuss and prove that our critic has once again misread, misunderstood and misinterpreted both Stalin and the programme of the 6th Congress of Communist International so far as the question of ‘genuine’ or ‘real industrialisation’ and development of world capitalism and world proletarian socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat are concerned.
Manufacturing of machine-making machine is the sole criterion of ‘real industrialisation’ and the development of a society into capitalism from feudalism according to RD and asks us to wait up to that stage and meanwhile let the slogan of socialism be kept in the cold storage. Objectively and in last analysis it is a slogan betraying the cause of revolution and socialism. And the wonder of wonders is that RD referred to Stalin and the programme in its defence. But Lenin in 1921 thought of skipping over the painful developmental stage of backward countries directly to socialism during the 2nd Congress of Communist International. Besides, both Stalin and the Programme spoke NOT AT ALL of capitalist industrialisation. Both spoke about the socialist industrialisation and socialist construction, as they very well knew that since the complete division of the world amongst the imperialist power there can be no question of ‘real’ or ‘genuine’ industrialisation of the colonial, semi-colonial and dependent countries. But that did not mean the stopping of the process of development and globalisation of capitalism. The programme said:
‘The uneven development of capitalism which became more accentuated in the period of imperialism HAS GIVEN RISE TO A VARIETY OF TYPES OF CAPITALISM...’
Unfortunately, our critic hopelessly fails to understand these ‘variety of types of capitalism’ as it understands only one type of capitalism, the classical type. To it, other types of capitalism are no capitalism at all as they do not manufacture machine-making machines. A logic indeed!
Does the above quotation mean that the programme debated over the question of ‘real’ and ‘fake’ or genuine capitalist industrialisation?
Elsewhere, the Programme said:
‘Colonial and semi-colonial countries (India, China etc.) and dependent countries (Argentine, Brazil, etc.) having the rudiments and in some cases, a considerably developed industry, but in the majority of cases inadequate for INDEPENDENT socialist construction...’ (‘Programme of the Communist International’, People’s Publishing House, Bombay, 1948, pp. 44-5).
Does the above quotation mean that the Programme debated over the question of ‘real’ and ‘fake’ capitalist industrialisation? On the contrary, it recognised capitalism in backward countries as capitalism and even ‘considerably developed industry’ despite the spectacular absence of ‘machine-making machines’ in these countries. And lastly, it spoke of the ‘inadequacy’ of ‘ independent socialist construction’, NOT of capitalist construction.
PP likes to know why, then this childish, unnecessary and irrelevant babble of RD and its reference to the Programme?
Did Stalin speak and debate over the question of ‘real’ or ‘genuine’ capitalist industrialisation in his speech on The First Five-Year Plan? He spoke on socialist industrialisation and the importance and significance of Department I in this respect.
In this case also the reference of our critics is irrelevant and unnecessary.
Finally, did the programme direct the colonial, semi-colonial and dependent countries to effect a bourgeois democratic revolution WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF WORLD BOURGEOIS DEMOCRACY AS A PART OF WORLD CAPITALISM, AS A TRANSITIONAL STAGE, AS IT EXISTS TODAY?
Definitely not. The programme placed the perspective of world proletarian Socialist Revolution and AS A TRANSITIONAL STAGE TO THAT WORLD PROLETARIAN SOCIALIST REVOLUTION, the programme directed the Colonial, Semi-colonial and Dependent countries to effect a bourgeois democratic revolution WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF WORLD PROLETARIAN SOCIALIST REVOLUTION AS PART AND PARCEL OF WORLD PROLETARIAN DEMOCRACY AND WORLD PROLETARIAN REVOLUTION. Or we may call it SOCIALIST GLOBALISATION.
Here is what Stalin said about the Programme:
‘3) The draft takes its point of departure not some particular capitalism of some particular country or portion of the world, BUT THE ENTIRE SYSTEM OF CAPITALISM counterpoising to it THE WORLD SYSTEM OF SOCIALIST ECONOMY....
‘5) Instead of the slogan of United States of Europe, the draft puts forward the slogan of a FEDERATION OF SOVIET REPUBLICS WHICH CONSISTS OF ADVANCED COUNTRIES AND colonies THAT HAVE DROPPED, OR ARE DROPPING, OUT OF THE IMPERIALIST SYSTEM, AND WHICH IS OPPOSED IN ITS struggle for world socialism TO THE WORLD CAPITALIST SYSTEM...’ (J.V. Stalin, ‘Results of the July Plenum of the C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.)’, July 13, 1928, in ‘Works’, Vol. 11, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954, p. 212.
Where, then, is the relevance of our critic in referring to the Programme? Is there any relevance of the said Programme in today’s context? We do not expect that our critic friend RD becomes pedantic and academic. Why then our critic advises us to effect a bourgeois democratic revolution within the framework of world bourgeois democracy and capitalist globalisation and then objectively erects a Chinese wall between the democratic revolution and socialist revolution? Why then our critic advocates ‘revolutionary democracy’ in words?
By the way, may the PP ask RD why it abandoned People’s Democratic Revolution of CPI (M) and others and why it embraced Revolutionary Democracy?
Some Straight Questions to Revolutionary Democracy:
RD first speaks that ‘Nothing has changed since the transfer of power in 1947’ and then speaks of the necessity of an agrarian revolution as the axis of its bourgeois democratic revolution, of course, under the leadership of the working class. PP likes to know, if ‘nothing has changed since the transfer of power in 1947’, how RD explains the spectacular onward march of the productive forces in agricultural sector in post-independence India which remained stagnant in the first half of this century? (Figures of spectacular onward march of the productive forces in agriculture will be readily supplied if and when demanded.)
This spectacular onward march of the productive forces in agriculture is due to the change of relations of production in agriculture. How does RD explain this change of relations of production and at the same time defend ‘nothing has changed since the transfer of power in 1947? What is bourgeois democratic revolution? Emancipation of the peasant serfs from the stranglehold of feudal bondage so that the free peasants may freely sell their labour-power in the market in both industrial and agriculture sector in order to develop capitalism and capitalist relations of production in both the sectors. Due to the bourgeois democratic revolution made under the leadership of the Indian bourgeoisie (though incomplete and unfinished) the peasant serfs have become the free labourers. Do you agree that the relations of production in agriculture have changed? If so, how do you defend your ‘nothing has changed since the transfer of power in 1947’ What is the basis of feudal relations of production, feudal bondage? The basis of feudal relations of production, according to Stalin is ‘full ownership by the feudal lords of the means of production, the partial ownership of the workers in production – the serf’ (Stalin: Dialectical and Historical Materialism). Peasants of India are no longer serfs. Is it not a change of fundamental nature in post-independence India?
Question 2: Why, in spite of the emancipation of the serfs from feudal bondage and in spite of the spectacular rise in agriculture production Indian agriculture is facing a severe crisis of over-production and at the same time agrarian population lives a life of utter poverty and misery and remains backward? Is it because of the peculiar character of Indian capitalism? Who inhibits and hinder India’s productive forces to go forward – Feudalism or Capitalism?
Question 3: What is the over-all economy of India – Feudalist or Capitalist? Is the industrial sector an integral part of the feudal economy and politics? Does feudalism lead capitalism or capitalism lead feudalism?
PP is of the firm opinion that it is not feudalism but Indian capitalism which is holding back the productive forces of India.
Yes, the capitalist relations of production in India have turned into fetters – not the feudal relations of production and our task is to smash these fetters to march ahead. The incomplete and half-finished bourgeois democratic revolution can only be completed as a by-product of socialist revolution.
PP is quite aware of the tremendous influence of feudal ideas and practices IN THE SUPERSTRUCTURE, BUT THIS IS NOT IN THE REALM OF ECONOMIC BASE, IN THE RELATIONS OF PRODUCTION. Determination of strategic goal is one thing, which is related to the relations of production, to the economic base, whereas the determination of tactical line is another thing, which is related to the superstructure, to men’s mind. Our critic RD, seeing and feeling the tremendous influence of feudal ideas and practice, forgets to distinguish between the base and superstructure and between the strategy and tactics.
PP is quite aware also of the vastness and unequal development of Indian economics and politics. Concrete local conditions should be kept in mind while concretising the slogan and immediate tasks but they should always be based on over-all condition of Indian economics and politics.
‘Proletarian Path’, January-March 2001, pp. 36-45
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