Recently, I came across an article in The Indian Express by writer, teacher and social activist Apoorvanand. It was a rejoinder to some article. Initially, it appeared to me to suggest that there is no need to imitate Lenin’s model of revolution in India.
But when I went through the whole piece, I was astonished and highly disappointed. He not only denounced Lenin and the October revolution, but asserted that for the last 6 years, Indians are undergoing the same treatment which was meted out to Russian people by Lenin. Meaning thereby that Soviet government was as bad as Modi government.
Some liberals among us have a problem that they completely turn their eyes away from the class reality of state and the government.
How come, someone, in one’s senses, may compare the Soviet state with India’s bourgeoisie-landlord state?
On the one hand, the Soviet state represented workers, peasants, and the exploited and oppressed masses; while on the other hand, here is the Brahmanical government of rabid feudal, corporate capitalists.
We have studied the writings of many liberal thinkers and leaders, even Gandhiji, Lohia and JP but none has dismissed October revolution and Lenin in such a manner. After all, how can one even think of it!
The role of October Revolution in human history is immortal as it heralded a new era of world history and humanity; it gave birth to a new civilisation and culture. Writers and intellectuals have every right of debate and discussion in the realm of philosophy and concepts. But politics operates in the arena of realities and possibilities.
Capturing power in the land of the great French revolution of 1789 which gave the mantra of liberty, equality and fraternity to the humanity, autocratic emperor Napoleon demolished all the values of the revolution. The revolution of 1848 failed in Europe, Paris Commune was crushed.
The Russian experiment of democracy by Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks was not only of very low quality but also it was destined to fail. It was in this background that Lenin learning from the experience of failed European revolutions carved the path of a transformative politics in Russia, the October revolution which changed the course of world history.
It was the October revolution which showed a new light to the liberation struggles in many of the then dependent countries like India and helped them achieve their freedom. It was the legacy of Lenin’s politics which defeated Nazism and Fascism of Hitler and Mussolini and defended liberalism and humanity. If the Soviet Union had not shouldered this historic responsibility to defeat fascism at that time, it is difficult for me to imagine what would have been the fate of liberals like us today.
Agreed, Lenin, too, might have committed mistakes. But, one must ponder over those circumstances, too, where he was surrounded by forces inimical to humanity. Lenin indeed led the phase of War Communism from 1918 to1921, where some excesses were committed, but it was the same Lenin who experimented a New Economic Policy for the Soviet Union.
Lenin was the first successful political experimentalist of Marx’s great conception of a society where there will be no state, where man himself will be the subject/master of his destiny and where he will live a wholesome life.
Lenin’s experiment generates this confidence in humanity that the coming generations will definitely build a stateless society someday, where the dignity and sovereignty of man will be supreme.
Lenin was clear that without the annihilation of class, humanity and mankind can’t be saved. It was Lenin who laid the foundation of today’s civil society based on diversity and pluralism. It was Lenin who gave the clarion call for man-woman equality. That’s why, the women’s movements, the world over, regard Lenin as their guide, even today.
In India, Dr Ambedkar, too, felt that it is the castes here which represent classes and without the annihilation of castes, civil society can’t be built, the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity can’t be realised. It is in the classless society that annihilation of castes takes place and it is through the annihilation of castes that classless society is built. Struggle against class and caste is one single whole, these two can’t be pitted against each other.
For emancipation from Brahmanism and casteism, Buddha, too, emphasized the knowledge of this world and the individual and said “Be your own torchlight” This great philosophy too, was defeated by Brahmanism in India, but its role in the service of humanity is not exhausted.
So in this phase, when fascism in its heinous form, is busy engulfing Indian state, society and human life, there is a need to learn from Lenin and not dismiss him. Neo-liberalism is a rotten and cruel mode of production which is preparing fertile ground for fascism in our country. Liberal ideas and the capitalist system seem incapable of combating it. So, for building a new egalitarian economic, political and social order, one can learn a lot from Marx and Lenin, as we can learn from the experiments of Dr Ambedkar, Gandhi, Lohia, and JP.
Even Gandhiji committed many mistakes, but we can’t dismiss him today in the battle against fascism.
All India Peoples Front
Note – Vladimir Lenin, Former Premier of the Soviet Union.
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known by his alias Lenin, was a Russian revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. He served as head of government of Soviet Russia from 1917 to 1924 and of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924.