Letter to Comrade D.N. Aidit on the Question of the Survivals of Feudalism and the National Front

(February 16, 1953)

J.V. Stalin


This letter is a part of the lengthy exchanges between Stalin and D.N. Aidit in relation to the rewriting of the party programme of the Communist Party of Indonesia. (1) Stalin explained the retention of the colonial status of Indonesia after the departure of the Dutch in 1949 so that the country remained a colony of the Netherlands. In the letter below Stalin expatiated on the features of the feudal survivals in Indonesia. These observations have a value for the contemporary semi-colonial and dependent countries including India. Stalin emphasised the necessity of maintaining a distinction between asserting the existence of feudal survivals/semi-feudalism in a country and maintaining that feudalism still existed as a whole. This has an importance for the discussions in India. But it is also of importance to note that in India each modification of the survivals of feudalism (the Permanent Settlement of 1793, the defeat of Mughal landlordism in 1857, the land reforms of the 1950s) have been projected by the reformist left as the termination of the feudal survivals and the victory of capitalism in the rural sector. Stalin's references to the monopoly of land possession under semi-feudalism is also of particular value to India where the ‘land reforms’ of the 1950s preserved a situation where the top 15% of the landowners hold the same percentage of land as prior to the ‘reforms' even though the composition of this 15% has changed: thereby preserving the remnants of feudalism in the countryside. Similarly in the rural relations India experiences the widespread payment of rent in kind to the landlord through sharecropping; the payment to the landlord of labour rent in the form of begar; the peasant, moreover, is subjected to extensive debt slavery as outlined by Stalin. India additionally suffers from the extensive survivals of the pre-feudal caste system as well as the remnants of tribalism. The letter of Stalin confirms the actuality of the extensive survivals of feudalism in contemporary India.

Vijay Singh

Reference: 1. revolutionarydemocracy.org/archive/cpindonesia.htm

Click here to return to the September 2017 index.