Nationalization Vs Privatization

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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At first look, it seems both are antagonistic; where the first one is for the people, for the “country”, while the second one is for the capitalist class. Hence, Congress, during the Nehru era was pursuing socialism, and after the neo-liberal policy, undertaken by Rahul Gandhi’s government, known as Manmohan Singh’s economic policy (He was the then Finance Minister), was pursuing capitalism. Neo-liberalism came with various masks, like globalization, perestroika, reform, cure of bureaucracy and ailments killing the public sectors, worker’s apathy towards the work, loss of profit and unnecessary expenditure on welfare and subsidies on the working people and retired personnel. The aim was to augment the falling profit rate of the capitalist class and maintain the latter’s hegemony. The result, of course, was the acceleration in concentration and accumulation of wealth in few hands, albeit in name of reviving the capitalist economy, which is in deep irreconcilable contradiction.

Let us analyze the past, immediately after Indian independence, in fact even before that.

The “smooth” handing over of power to Indians (and Pakistanis) was not to or for the working class, as envisaged by the HSRA, founded by Chandrasekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Ashfaqualla and others, and the Communist Party of India.

In fact, when the Indian Constitution was being made, there were four participating groups, one of them was represented by the Communist Party of India and who were forced to quit, when it was clear that the Constitution was to be in the service of the private property and was to safeguard the capitalist class (even the remaining feudal class) interest.

This was a tacit understanding between the British Raj and the bourgeois class and Congress Party, the Muslim League, the USA, and those others, who mattered, except the people of India.

Two examples must be studied to understand the characteristics of the Indian bourgeois class; first, how it dealt with the Telangana movement, which was against the British Raj as well as its accomplice Nizam and Feudal Lords and the Rajakars (Nizam’s Army), under the leadership of CPI, which fought very valiantly since 1945 to 1952 or 53, till the leadership abandoned its own cadre to favour Nehru/Patel’s government and signed the pact of peace treacherously, one-sided, favouring the Indian State. The UNO had raised the Human rights question, where more than 2000 local women were raped, tortured and 1000s of fighters and their sympathizers were killed in fake encounters as well as in jails by the Army of GOI and Nizam (Government of Nehru and Patel), but somehow was quashed. After the peace pact followed and the Telangana Movement finished, Nizam and his Army men were rehabilitated, in the most possible “honourable” fashion.

Similar was the Bombay Mutiny in 1946, which spread to Lahore, Bengal, and Madras and was supported by the workers, peasants, youths, and various Unions and organizations across the country.

However, Congress and Muslim League officially and openly opposed the mutiny, and advised their respective followers to remain away from the “law and order” problems, as they never wanted to share the power with the working class.

CPI seems to have chickened out or failed to analyze the situation and opportunity correctly.

The statements of JL Nehru, Jinnah, and Sardar Bhai Patel were in support of the British and opposed to the soldiers and the people’s revolt against the British.

The power would have gone to the revolutionary working class if the revolt would have succeeded, and naturally, was not supported by the existing political parties and organizations, like RSS, and VHP.

However, after the independence was secured, despite all the bloodbaths between the two newly emerged nations, India and Pakistan, India preferred to follow industrialization and modernization of all the industries, services, and superstructure and new industries, and factories.

The Indian bourgeois class was unable to take over these concerns, and enterprises, due lack of capital as well as technical know-how and other much-needed wherewithal.

“Bombay plan” may be referred to, which shows how the bourgeoisie was in favour of the growth of public sectors, with the active intervention of the government, where it itself was unable to move forward due to lack of wherewithal, like technology and capital, mostly in big industries and supporting services, like railways, airlines, shipping, power, steel, defence sector, insurance companies, Research & Development Concerns, etc.

Hence, the GOI had to intervene and build all the “Navratans”, superstructures and other parts of public concerns; Airlines and Airports, Shipping (Jahajrani, SCI), Power, ONGC, BSNL, Research works (DRDO, etc.), super speciality medical services, ISRO, ASI, Highways, Railways, and many others. 5 Year plan may sound like having borrowed from the USSR, but it was supported by Tata and other big capitalists.

USSR was happy in providing cheap technical know-how as well as big types of machinery, like a Thermal Plant in Patratu (Jharkhand), Defense equipment, with the help to build and repair facilities (BRD), etc., which was also in sync with its foreign policy, to keep the MNCs away, as much as possible, in the new rising nations.

Was socialism being constructed in India?

No, as the state power was in the hands of the bourgeois class and the working class, though much more united than today and militant, was in the back seat, “satisfied” with the “facilities and labour laws” in its favour, as its leadership wanted. The situation gave a brilliant ideological framework to the CPI to support the ruling party, Congress, in name of building socialism, which of course was strengthening industrial as well as financial capital. The bureaucracy (red tapeism), corruption and other ailments penetrated into the public concerns in a natural fashion and “Socialism” was blamed.

In the meantime, capitalist restoration in USSR gave “moral” support to the opportunist Communist Parties, the world over, to shun class struggle and followed Parliamentary Struggle, a path to build Socialism peacefully.

An open class collaboration followed and these parties happily accepted opportunism and revisionism, the leadership which opposed these political lines, had to break away from the old parties, but in most cases that lead to “revisionism vs revisionism”, like CPI(M) or Left Wing adventurism, like Maoists (the earlier version, the Naxalite movement did connect the question of state power to the struggle, more appropriately class struggle, but that was the end of its “break” from the past revisionism and we know, finally this movement was crushed by the Indian State.).

By the way, this above analysis is circulating among communist circles since the late 70s or early 80s (or even before that), but has remained in scholarly debates or in study circles and could not percolate down to practice.

Well, the nationalization, end of the Privy system, etc. were accelerated during the Indira Gandhi regime, and the “Left” was euphoric, Garibi Hatao (Remove Poverty), the inclusion of the word “Socialism” in the Constitution and other rhetoric were nothing but part of capitalist society and capitalist politics, the political economy, that was being followed, was nothing but steadily empowering capital and the concentration of wealth in hands of few was accelerating. The nationalization of the 14 largest banks in India in 1969, when Indira Gandhi was PM (And even FM) did not work towards the upliftment of the poor. Compare with this:

“The ownership of the capital wielded by and concentrated in the banks is certified by printed and written certificates called shares, bonds, bills, receipts, etc. Not a single one of these certificates would be invalidated or altered if the banks were nationalized, i.e., if all the banks were amalgamated into a single state bank. Whoever owned fifteen rubles in a savings account would continue to be the owner of fifteen rubles after the nationalization of the banks; and whoever had fifteen million rubles would continue after the nationalization of the banks to have fifteen million rubles in the form of shares, bonds, bills, commercial certificates and so on.”

(Lenin in 1917 on Bank’s Nationalization)

The so-called “Socialism” through nationalization never attacked the production field, where the means of production was in the hands of the capitalist class, and where the surplus value was created by the workers and usurped by the capitalist class. A small part of the surplus value (or rather through more exploitation of the workers) was used in circulation through welfare measures and subsidies. This allowed a small section of the working class to enjoy the bourgeoisie’s big “heartedness” towards its social duty, at the cost of others. Today, the others, the workers in unorganized sectors are approximately 93%.

Do we have to remind our readers about CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility, which is to remind the people that “Business is for good”).

To jump a few decades forward, we see the “opening” of the economy, reforms, globalization, changes in labour laws, the introduction of laws for land acquisition, dilution of environment acts, etc. followed in the 1980s, accelerated in the 1990s, so far all by the “Socialist” Congress government, in between (RSS) BJP Government, under Vajpayee and now Modi government.

Modi government has much freedom to work due rise of fascism, a social movement, where a section of the mass is supporting most of its anti-people economic and political policies, in hope of crushing the minorities and Dalits and building Hindu Rashtra and India becoming a World Leader (Vishwa Guru).

The building up of Indian property in many compartments, but mainly in government and in private hands, was all for the capital and its various forms, and now, when the world economy in plunging into an economic crisis, even before Coronavirus Pandemic, and is almost in Economic Depression (Maybe at a lower scale than 1928-31 economic recession), the capitalist class, with no love for the working class and the oppressed people, has thrown the country under the yoke of fascism (like to call it accelerated neoliberalism, with state-sponsored as well as directly by the state violence?), and is ruthless “re-appropriating” the created public funds and concerns! See the rate of privatization of almost all the public concerns, whether they are in loss/profit or are inefficient/efficient, is no more a concern, all are to be privatized, as soon as possible!

There is a bridge between the earlier “Socialist” construction, better say it resembled a welfare state (providing social security to the “white coloured workers” or “Labor aristocratic”, trickling down to the middle level but, in reality, far from it) and now the capitalist “restoration” in India, but with a violent break, qualitative changes, from a masked “democracy” and constitutional government to open fascistic regime, where constitutional methods have been thrown into the dustbin. World imperialism, IMF, WB, etc. have full support to the Indian bourgeois class and their tirade against the proletarian class is openly visible, with a sizable pie in the plunder; like they support Israeli Zionism.

Nationalization in a capitalist society or country is for the capitalist class and not for the working class. Unemployment, poverty, and inequality continue rising in both the bourgeois state, namely anti-people state or “pro-people” (Welfare state) state, but during the crisis, either political, economic or any other kind, the bourgeois state comes down heavily on the working class legally, illegally, socially (A section of the mass supports it, for some perks or for some regressive and jingoistic ideology), through police, military, bureaucracy, etc. Remember, in all such cases, the unity of the working class must be at the lowest level, planned or unplanned, and the Communist Parties would have failed to counter or resist the bourgeoisie attack, due to its weakness, like revisionism or deviation from the revolutionary ideology and class struggle.

While we, the revolutionary forces, work with the proletarian class and its oppressed allies, we do join their struggle, protests, and rallies; it is our task to educate them on political economy, telling them how such concessions, which they may bargain due balance of power in their favour, is temporary. These concessions are taken away, when the enemy class becomes the dominant bargainer, especially during a crisis and when the unity of the working class is weakened. Nationalization in any bourgeois society or state is not confiscation of the means of production from the capitalist class, but taking over the management from the private hands by the state, after giving away the full compensation to the earlier owners. Yes, that does facilitate a few well-paid and even other employees for a comparatively peaceful life and save the wrath of their erstwhile capitalist masters. The capital is preserved with all its characteristics. Here nationalization, as we can see, blunts the class struggle.

Also remember, without failing for a moment, that in capitalism or in monopoly capitalism, the state is not neutral but biased against the proletarian class and favours the capitalist class; rather it is safer to say that the state, in capitalism, is controlled by the capitalist class. The present Indian state is a burning example. The birth and growth of the state are to facilitate the interest and safety of the ruling class against the ruled class.

The real emancipation of the exploited class is in its own state, by defeating the enemy class and smashing its old state apparatus, and by building a socialist society, where the private property is converted into social wealth. Nationalization of industries and land and other resources, in a country, where the state power is in the hands of the working class, through its revolutionary party, is a transitory method to control production, as long as the state exists (It is not state capitalism) and later make it part of social wealth. We call it socialization, and that is our aim. Here nationalization helps the proletariat party, in power, to build socialism.

The genius of Marx lies in his having been the first to deduce with the help of dialectical materialism, the lesson world history teaches and to apply that lesson consistently. The deduction he made is the doctrine of the class struggle.

Gp Capt Krishna Kant


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